You know the feeling. Your breath catches. Something takes it away. Something surprises you. The unexpected. The unknown. It’s not often our children who do that to us, but yet. Could it be?
Sometimes our kids make us proud in unexpected places. We naturally swoon at their accomplishments and abilities. But once in a while they do things that are so grown-up. So mature. Sometimes they do things that you can’t imagining your own self EVER doing. And sometimes those “things” appear so suddenly they take your breath away. I had two of those moments back to back in the same evening this weekend.
Every family has their “gish” going on behind the scenes. Our last year has been “intense”… to say the least. It was hard on me, but it was equally hard on them. We trudged on. They watched a struggle through job loss, money issues, and eventually a huge move. The latter affected them directly. I knew it would. I knew it would be hard. But I also knew how necessary it was.
I think I tried to help them through their struggles, but within my own selfishness I missed many of their inner turmoils. Yes…my heart ached and my gut wrenched that first DAY of a new school those first WEEKS of a new school. I too was struggling. Trying to settle in a new studio…work from a new environment…find a new pattern…make a new routine. We were all in full blown survival mode.
We have lived in a rental home since September. A home that has provided us a warm place to live and to sleep and to be. We are grateful. Yet…it has none of our own…things…stuff. We miss our plates and our glasses and our own beds and our own kitchen table. It’s not so much the “stuff”. But somehow the “known” is comforting. We have no known. It’s hard. And often incredibly frustrating. Especially for my small people.
But…one thing I learned last summer when I did the Warrior Dash. You think you’re strong. You think you’ve worked out and you totally prepared for what’s ahead. But then you actually get on the course and have to trudge through the mud and you realize how hard it is. Every step is a battle. Every effort to remain on your feet a struggle. And muscles you didn’t even know you had ache so badly in the days after. Yet. Yet…the sense of accomplishment of actually making it through that course, getting through the mud and finishing…well, THAT is amazing.
The two girls still living at home, Isabel and Tahlia, are incredible human beings. I knew it. And believed it. I’ve told them that. I’ve been so proud. Their strength. Their grades. Their friends. Their involvement. But I saw something new this weekend.
I saw Strength and Perseverance and Strong Character more so than I ever knew existed. I saw girls becoming women. I saw girls becoming models for others. I saw girls who have trudged through the mud and are stronger than I ever knew possible.
It took my breath away.
It started at Tahlia’s play. Grease. Community theatre. She is one of only a handful of “youth”. It’s mostly adults. The rehearsals have been grueling for a 13 year old. Four nights a week, 7-10. Dancing. Singing. She’s been tired and overwhelmed. There have been many evenings full of tears. Yet. She persevered. She maintained her grades. She showed up on time every night. She gave it her all. And there she was. Opening night. On stage. Dancing. Singing. And SHINING. How does one so young have so much strength? My heart is full. I’m so…proud. Not for her accomplishment ON STAGE…but what she trudged through to get there. Strength of character. Breath gone.
I left that performance at intermission to rush to the high school. Isabel. Junior. A synchronized swimming performance called Catalina. Yes, she’s an amazing swimmer but she’s never done anything like this before. Swimming and dancing at the same time? First of all, I’d fall…then drown. But she confidently signed up. Saturday and 5:30 in the morning rehearsals. She’s never missed. I didn’t know what to expect. I was already intimidated just waiting in line to get in. Teenagers. Parents. So many people. I didn’t know any of them. I sat on that bench in that steamy room feeling overwhelmed. The magnitude of that place. So many students. How did she ever walk into that school the first day. How. How did she find people. Friends. How did she survive. Could I do that? No. I know I could not. And then she walked out with her group. I spotted her immediately. I saw her smile and her sass from across the room. I saw her dance and swim and BEAM and….me? Breath gone.
These girls. These teenage girls have trudged through thicker mud than I even realized. They had not only walked through it…but emerged with a strength I could not have hoped for.
Your children. My children. Do we give them the credit we should? I know I don’t. Not often enough. I’m too concerned about time staring at screens. Laundry undone. Beds unmade. You know. The stuff we, as parents, are supposed to worry about. But inside those rebellious-eye-rolling-I-know-more-than-you-minds are human beings that can amaze us if we take the time to look.
Me. I’m still working at getting my breath back. And I think. I think I want to be my girls when “I grow up”.