When I played basketball, I was annoyingly scrappy. A hustler. I wore floor burns with pride. I occasionally stole the ball from an opponent resulting in a break away lay-up. This meant that I had an opportunity to score two points practically without defense. I choked sometimes. A lot of times, actually. As in, I bricked the lay-up so hard off of the backboard that either the pissed-off opponent would get the rebound or sometimes one of my teammates would save the day following close behind for the put-back. Thank, goodness. I always enjoyed the steals, rebounds, assists, tips, blocked shots etc. a lot more than scoring.
I think about basketball a lot as a parent. It’s practically second nature to me. I often talk to myself like I used to on the basketball court. “Don’t lose your cool. Don’t show too many emotions. Don’t turnover the ball or lose the moment with your child,” I think. But parenting is a crud-ton harder than even playing collegiate basketball. It’s really harder than anything I’ve ever done. Even managing multiple chronic diseases can seem like a breeze when compared to the unpredictable, life stealing moments that mothering my sons can produce.
Don’t get me wrong. The last thing I want to sound like is a whining, complaining, ungrateful mother. I love the hell out of my kids. When they’re not wearing me out and oftentimes at the same time, they’re totally filling me up. I’m that crazy shaken up can of pop. I’m literally overflowing. They make me laugh and smile a million different smiles and they ignite this overwhelming and unexplainable sense of love, joy, hope and beauty that I otherwise may not have ever seen in this world. If not for their eyes, their hearts, and their ever growing inquisitive minds, I may be lacking something that I never knew existed.
For example. The other day, my husband trimmed the bushes. He found an empty bird nest. I saw it lying on the grass. It was beautiful but it made me a little sad. I wanted to take a picture. I knew I would be able to write about it later. I wanted to show a friend The empty nest. She unexpectedly had dropped by. We walked outside and it was gone. Disappeared. Later, I asked my boys if they had seen it. One of them replied, “Yeah. we put it back in the bushes.” I could have on-the-spot cried. For so many heart-exploding reasons. Of course, I thought and probably overthought their kindness. It was a simple gesture born out of an enormous love for tiny creatures and their importance. Their hard work. Not just an empty nest. They wanted birds to come back. They wanted to help. They did this thing without me ever prompting them. All by themselves, they did something so meaningful.
I love my boys.
Yet, I digress.
You can love the heck out of your kids and still have these moments of raw, ugly, and unexplainable defeat. I’m trying to tell myself. Like I used to do on the basketball court. It’s okay. You messed up. You’re not perfect. Neither are they. Mothering is not always going to be filled with these beautiful and proud moments. You’re going to need time-outs. You’re going to need to get back on defense. You’re going to feel like you’re outnumbered and failing at this zone defense. You’re going to lose some days. Some moments. Some arguments. But you will learn. You will grow. You will be stretched and pulled and strained in ways that you never could imagine. But, you can never give up. You must always recover. Get back. Keep your head up. Stack it up with your teammates. Those who know the caliber of mother you are. Who you strive to be. They know your potential. They’ve seen your best days and they have heard about your worst days too.
Accidents happen. Ugly moments happen. You can have both the gut-wrenching, mountain viewing beautiful moments and the dried up, hot-as-hell, dying of thirst valley moments. It’s okay. Your heart, your passion and your motivation to do better, grow stronger and learn from even the toughest moments will drive you to love in the most incredible ways.
Keep up the good yet hard work, teammates. Parenting friends. We are in this thing together. If I could stack it up with all of you in the center circle and smack all of your butts, I would.
Go! Fight! Win!
“I didn’t leave her there for long. When a player makes a mistake, you always want to put them back in quickly—you don’t just berate them and sit them down with no chance for redemption.” -Pat Summitt