It’s About Who’s Waiting For Us in the End.

Come with me back to a high school track meet. It happened two weeks ago. I sat in the stands watching my teenage daughter and hundreds of other high-schoolers, all vying for their own personal records, hoping to beat out all the other competitors. Unlike the athletes, I, however, had a completely opposing mantra for myself. “Let it go, Alice.” “Let it go.” The Sunday before, my track-star daughter, my husband, and I had a heart-to-heart. Come to find out, I have always put undue pressure on the poor girl in all areas of her life, but especially when it comes to sports and grades. Yeah, I’m not proud. What can I say? She’s my firstborn? That doesn’t really cut it. You’ll be relieved to know that I am working on it. I have specific goals, one of which is not being result-obsessed.

So, my daughter had just run her 100m. Unlike her past track experiences, she’s not typically in the Top 3 this year. She’s running at the middle of the pack. Thus the mantra. “Let it go, Alice.” I was pep-talking myself, “This is about your daughter, not about you. Abigail is having fun. Abigail is getting exercise. Just because you want her to be in first place, it doesn’t mean that is where she needs to be. Be happy. Love your girl. Let it go.”

Then an amazing thing happened.

the end

It was the boy’s mile. The mile takes forever. As my thoughts were repeating in circles, I haphazardly watched the male athletes going round and around. I watched while I wrestled with my only baby boy and started imagining his future. I wondered to myself if I could master being a better mother by the time he takes to the track. I hoped I would never put too much pressure on him, too. I questioned whether or not he will even be an athlete and silently wished I will be able to embrace whatever it is he decides to love, even if he only loves it with mediocrity.

The race was over….or so I thought. My mind moved on. Then, right in front of me, I saw some super energetic young man rally his whole school to their feet. He hooted, hollered, jumped, cajoled, begged, and demanded full participation. I silently hoped, “Oh, I don’t wish that for Max. Please let him be an athlete, instead of a cheerleader.” Stay with me. My mind was abruptly changed.

It so happened that there was one runner left. He was way behind the pack. He belonged to this crazy make-shift athlete turned cheerleader’s school. This runner was a runt. He was slow. He was in last place. Yet. Yet, as he slowly made his way to the finish line in front of the crowd, his school was cheering for him like he was an Olympic gold medalist. All because of the efforts of his crazy encouraging teammate (that he hadn’t even seen rally the crowd) his stride quickened. His chin lifted up in pride. There was a wide smile on his face. The finish of this race is one he will never forget. Neither will I.

I hid my face in shame for being such a proud person. And because I was bawling my eyes out. I whispered to Max, “You don’t have to be an athlete, but please be a make-shift cheerleader wherever you go.”

Then I ran over to tell Abigail that she did awesome in that 100m.

The following Sunday, while I was driving to church, this song came on the radio. It took me hours to find it but it was worth every search effort.

Enjoy.

It’s not about how fast we get there, it’s about who’s waiting for us in the end.

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6 comments

  1. Dear, dear, Alice. You’ve done it again. You made me cry. I have been guilty as well of living my life through my children. I will never forget how I hurt my daughter, Jessica one day while watching her play 1st base in a softball game. Alice, she was 6! She was 6 and I yelled at her for missing an easy play at her base. I made a absolute fool of myself. Then she started to cry. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide because I had made this precious little girl cry. I learned at that moment that I was placing expectations on her that was impossible for her to live up to. When they came in to bat I was waiting for her at the dugout. I grabbed her IP in my arms and told her how sorry I was and promised that I would never yell at her again. And I never did. She went on to play softball all through her youth and in high school. I saw her have good games and I saw her make mistakes. But I always cheered her on. I never wanted to make her cry like that again. For that few minutes I destroyed her spirit. She has long since forgiven me but I have never forgotten what I did to my little girl on that day. Keep posting! You have a gift.

    1. Rick, I am so glad you chimed in. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in my struggles and that others have found success with change. I think your experience also enriches this post for my readers. Thanks so much for sharing. Team Jessica all the way.

  2. What a beautiful post, Alice. I’m over here sobbing. The kicked up a whirlwind of emotions in me: from being a good/mediocre/average/lame/awesome person in all different areas of my life, to being the parent, or being the kids to being the one who needs to know and remember who is there for her in the end. Thank you for helping me evaluate where I’m at with my children and my hopes and dreams for them. Thank you for reminding me to always be there to cheer others on. Thank you for reminding me to be a better friend and family member Thank you for reminding me that it IS all worth it in the end. ❤

  3. What a beautiful post, Alice. I’m over here sobbing. The kicked up a whirlwind of emotions in me: from being a good/mediocre/average/lame/awesome person in all different areas of my life, to being the parent, or being the kids to being the one who needs to know and remember who is there for her in the end. Thank you for helping me evaluate where I’m at with my children and my hopes and dreams for them. Thank you for reminding me to always be there to cheer others on. Thank you for reminding me to be a better friend and family member Thank you for reminding me that it IS all worth it in the end. ❤

    1. Lyndi, I know. This incident had so many applications, like you mentioned. I think that is why I was such a bawl-baby, even in public. Thank you so much for your insights. I can’t really explain it, but whenever someone actually reads my blog it makes me feel so grateful. I know not very many people read it, and over the years I have decided that I write for me and me alone, but of someone else reads it and gets something from it, it makes my heart sing. So, thanks for being a great cheerleader today and for taking the time to comment. Love right back at you. You are an amazing (so not mediocre) person to me.

      1. I think I know what you mean; while I haven’t blogged in a LONG time (even though sometime I think I should/want to) I feel that way when someone takes the time to comment on something in Facebook or Instagram. I usually talk myself out of commenting because I feel like there’s always something to say, even if it’s just a “thanks for sharing” but I worry that it would be annoying to have a comment from me on EVERY post! 😉 I love interacting with people and especially when I read a post or blog that hits me, I feel more like I’m in a conversation than just sitting at home reading to myself. Thank you for taking the time to respond to me and say such nice things.

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