I am so proud of you.
I know it probably sounds like blah-blah-blah, but I am so proud of you.
Parents are supposed to tell their kids that they are proud of them, build their self-esteem, make certain they feel great about who they are in life.
There were times when my pride was only natural: When you walked your first steps, peed on the potty, made new friends in preschool, went to big-boy kindergarten, joined your brother at sleep-over camp, played Katy Perry for me on the drums….
This weekend, I was so proud of you for something else all together. For showing me you are strong, resilient (isn’t that the in buzzword?), able to rise above obstacles. You showed such courage and confidence, I am not sure that even I could do the same.
…It was mid-August, and it was time for flag football to reconvene. You laced up your cleats, grabbed your mouth guard, and headed to practice as you have done since you were 6 years old. A known entity to the program, the first few weeks were fun for you despite having to run laps around the field.
Then, team assignments came. You did not get your first or second choice for a coach. In fact, you were placed with a coach who intimidated you a bit. Not in the physical sense, but in a way that made you unsure you could meet his standards.
You did not get drafted on a team with any of your friends. Your buddies, the twins, were on the green team and the blue team was stacked with kids you knew from the clubhouse.
You were on red with a bunch of kids who did not want you on their team. They were a clique’ and you were not part of it. Painful for you, and even though I tried not to show it, much more painful for me.
As a parent there is nothing that hurts more. I assure you.
Your brother was too old to play. Yet, you looked like you would give your arm to be back on his team, despite the fact that you had been waiting a long year to break out of his shadow.
Now, you had to prove yourself to a skeptical coach and apparently, to even more skeptical fellow teammates (without even your bro in the shotgun to throw you the ball).
I admit now—-I agree with you. It sucked.
Dad and I did not think the season was going to end as it did. The first two games, when you wanted to leave at half-time and we did not let you, quite simply, left us at a loss. You were not a quitter—we would not let you be one.
We knew deep down in our bones that you had something to contribute to the team and you would rise up, survive.
You did not get to play the position you wanted to play. Not once.
You DID start each game with confidence, holding your head up high while assuming the position and task you were given.
Your team lost repeatedly. Your team made mistakes as a whole and as individuals.
You didn’t ask to leave at half-time anymore.
As the season was winding down, you had a chance to miss the playoffs. We were invited to a family gathering. You chose football.
Your team won the playoffs. Sadly, I missed this game, but your Dad and Uncle Eddie told me you played great. Once again, head high, doing what was asked of you with pride.
This past weekend, YOU went to the FINALS with your red team. The underdogs against the stacked blue team.
Your teammates greeted you with smiles and “Hey B!” That was a win, in and of itself.
You played your role. Your team was winning. The favored team was getting frustrated. You were handed the ball and ran. Ran and ran only to meet with an illegal play. With the wind-knocked out of you, ball still in hand, ME biting my finger on the sideline, your coach and fellow players checking on you, I could not help but to see a victory. You played ball, made friends, impressed the coach—ALL on your own.
Your team did in fact win the game, but you won so much more. You won respect. You are to be admired because you did something that many adults even struggle with—conquering our fears head on.
YOU did that, B. You are strong and tough, and I do not mean in the physical sense. You are courageous, and I admire that a million times over….I never want you to forget this season.
The trophy you won means so much more than just a victory in the flag football finals. It is a championship in the game of life.
I love you, MOM