Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why I'm OK that My Kid is a Benchwarmer

To my son who is (apparently) not the star on the team. 

So dude - you started strong and now, with the finish line in sight, you have fallen behind the pack. The pack being the starters. 

You're no longer first on the line up card. No one with a microphone is announcing your name. The crowds don't scream out and your jersey stays clean. 

And I can tell it bothers you. And what bothers you bothers me. But I have a few things to say about that:

1. You are not a better person when you are more known. Whether 6 people (the number of fans you have right here in your family) know how great you are or the whole town thinks you're great - you're great. Greatness isn't multiplied by increased knowledge. You're worthy and awesome because you are worthy and awesome. More people don't have to acknowledge that in order for it to be true. 

2. These probably aren't your best days. I know this game or this field or this team feels like the best moments of your life but son, it's only because you don't know what's ahead. Since I'm 45 let me tell you; there is a lot to live for and better days are promised in the years and months to come. You're not maxing out now. You're just not. 

3. And yet this is special. It's a quandary I know. These days are not the best you'll EVER have and yet they carry potential for being awesome. So relish it. Be in the moment. Capture photographs in your mind (or Instagram). Make memories. Because someday you'll look back on these photos and marvel at your trim waist or the seed spitting contest from the dugout and its those things that will make you happy. Not just the W's. 

3. W's are not as important as you, your coach or the fans think they are. Of course we play for a record and of course we love the taste of victory and trophies are shiny. But it's actually not about winning. Playing strengthens your body, stretches you mentally and being on a team fosters comradery. And if there is any skill you need in life it's learning how to get along with others. Please do your best. Practice hard. Develop grit. But in the end be a good person. 

5. By the way, that's MY name on your shirt. When you hit the floor (or field or pool or court) remember it may be you the public sees while I sit out on the bleachers but it's OUR name on your jersey. In other words you're not doing anything just for you, you're representing us - your family - aka your biggest fans. Be genuine, be you - but know what you do, how you play and your attitude creates connotation to the family name. Make us proud. 

6. And finally, while you're wishing you were a star I'm hoping your learning a valuable lesson. Losing, and the pain of dashed dreams, are the stuff grit is made of. When you don't get what you want in life it will either break you or create you. And in this house we're creators! Don't let yourself down because of game stats.  Use the pain and disappointment to propel you on to the next goal or dream or moment. If you want to be better - be better. If you want to try something else, do that. But in the end don't quit; not on yourself and not on your team. 

Sonshine, there is so much ahead for you. I can see the potential in your chest as surely as your heart beats. These days and these moments aren't the disappointments you think they are- they are the launchpad for what's to come. You might think being on top now is what you need and sure the attention is affirming but listen to me; your ball skills  and who recognizes your talent are not what you are made of. 

In the meantime, go check and see if your uniform is clean and water bottles ready. We have a game to get to. But look for me in the stands. That thumbs up I give you - the one you always ignore means, "I see you! And I'm on your team!"

Love, Mom

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