As many of you know, Number 4 is a pretty good swimmer.
She’s got lots of natural talent, plus a body that was made for the sport.
That’s part of the reason she’s a good swimmer. But the bigger part is that she also loves it.
Last night as we were driving home from practice, she said to me, “Mom, I go to school because I have to. But I go to swim practice because I want to. I live for swimming.”
For a year, Number 4 has had the goal of qualifying for a really big swim meet called the Eastern Zones Championship, or Zones as it’s called in the swimming community.
It’s a meet for the best of the best on the East Coast, and there are some amazing swimmers there.
To give you and idea of the caliber of swimmers who swim in this meet, Michael Phelps swam in it when he was ten. And he still holds a bunch of meet records.
Number 4 isn’t on the same level that Michael Phelps was when he was ten, but she’s one of the best in the state.
Plus it’s a pretty big honor to make it, and it’s a great opportunity.
As many of you also know, I coach swimming.
And I’m Number 4’s coach.
When she first told me last April that her goal was to make it to Zones, as her coach I told her what she’d need to do.
I told her she’d need to work harder than everyone else. I told her she’d really need to focus when she was in the pool. I told her she’d need to attend more than four practices a week which is the minimum number of practices the kids in her group are supposed to attend. And I told her she’d need to do extra work outside the pool.
As her mom, I put no pressure on her. I didn’t push her to do anything above and beyond the minimum requirements.
Sure, I want her to succeed and I want her to achieve the goals she’s set for herself.
And as her coach I do everything I can to help her when she’s in the pool.
But as her mom, I’m trying really hard to maintain perspective, to be supportive and not to push her.
I’m not gonna lie.
It’s hard. It’s a fine line to walk. It’s hard to transition from mom to coach and back to mom on a daily basis.
So we are at the end of the season. Number 4 has her last big meet this weekend called Age Groups. It’s a four day meet that runs from Thursday through Sunday, and it’s her last chance to qualify for Zones. She’s swimming 6 events, and she has a shot at qualifying in just about all of them.
As her coach and her mom, I’m so proud of her.
She has worked her ass off since September.
She’s gone to six practices a week. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday she came to the pool early with me, and while I coached another group, she ran on the track, and did circuits of strength training on her own.
I gave her ideas of what she could do and helped her come up with a plan, but I never forced her or guilted her into anything. She did it all on her own, always pushing herself, and always with her eye on the prize: Qualifying for Zones.
I don’t think there is really anything more she could have done.
So now we just have to wait and see.
She is so excited to swim this weekend she is nearly bursting out of her own skin.
She’s nervous. But she’s also confident.
She says to me, Mom, I just keep envisioning myself going to Zones. I’m not doubting myself. I just know I’m going to do it.
I’m totally freaking out.
As her mom, I want to see her succeed so badly, because nobody has worked harder than she has. And because of course no parent wants to see their kid work so hard to achieve something and ultimately fail.
As her coach, I feel the same way. Nobody has worked harder than her in or out of the pool, and it was all internally motivated.
I’m so inspired by her.
But as her coach, I am also so nervous.
Because although I know I’ve done everything I can to help her, if she doesn’t qualify for this meet, I will have failed her.
And then I will have failed her as a mom, too.
I haven’t really failed her.
And I know I shouldn’t even be thinking this way.
But I am.
One of the perks of parenthood.
I waiver from being completely confident that I’ve done exactly what she needs in order to achieve her goals to being scared shitless that I’ve fucked something up.
And I know that’s silly. I know I shouldn’t even put those crazy nervous thoughts out there into the universe.
But they are for sure running through my head pretty much 24/7. I am in complete freak out mode.
Any other parent in this position, although I would hope they wouldn’t, could point the finger at the coach if their kid fails.
But I have to point it at myself.
There isn’t a whole lot to be done now.
The piper has been paid. The money is in the bank. It’s up to her now.
As her mom I really want to see her happy. But I’m trying to keep my wits about me and keep things in perspective.
She’s only ten. It’s not like it’s Olympic Trials or anything.
But it’s a really big deal for Number 4. It’s the first big dream she’s really had.
And as her coach?
Well, no coach wants their athletes to fail.
And as her coach, I really, really, REALLY want to be the one to help her make her dreams come true.