I’m sitting in the lobby right now, while Number 3 and 4 are in the pool warming up for the second night of finals at a four day swim meet.
Last year I was at this same meet, losing my mind.
COMPLETELY LOSING MY MIND.
Last year I had little (to no) perspective.
I was stressed out and losing sleep and forgetting that my kids were only 11 and 12 years old.
They were not at the Olympics.
They were not swimming to save their (or anyone else’s) lives.
There wasn’t a full scholarship riding on this one swim.
Their futures didn’t depend on how they did in the meet.
But their futures did kind of depend on me.
They still do.
And what I learned last year when I was at the same meet, was that I was trying to protect my kids from failure and disappointment, I had very little perspective, and I was getting WAY too stressed about something that was supposed to be FUN.
This year, I approached the meet with a different attitude.
While I wanted the kids to swim well, and while I wanted them to achieve their goals, I knew that whatever happened, this would be a weekend full of life lessons.
And win or lose, succeed or fail, that is a good thing.
I also remembered there was nothing I could really do to influence the outcome of the weekend.
It wasn’t up to last minute reminders or pep talks.
It was up to one thing and one thing only.
They had either put in the work or they hadn’t.
They would either swim well or they wouldn’t.
Either way, everything would be okay, and good things would come from it.
If I chose to stress out about their whole meet that would only really accomplish one thing.
Projecting stress onto them.
And that certainly isn’t what I wanted to do.
Aside from last year, there was something else that helped me change my perspective this year.
This year was the first time Number 5 qualified for this meet also.
Number 5 swims for different reasons than Number 3 and 4.
She did have the goal to qualify for this meet, mostly because she’s seen her older brother and sister swim in it for years, but also because Number 3 basically told her there was no way she would qualify this year.
What a nice older brother.
And she was like, OH YEAH???
And she did.
Mostly just so she could rub it in her brother’s face.
Number 5 isn’t especially driven by goals and times in particular events. She doesn’t have dreams of going to the Olympics one day. Although she very well may be, she doesn’t expect to be on a Top 16 list or on a record board.
She has a little competitive fire in her, but mostly she swims because she likes to be with her friends on the team.
For her it’s much more of a social thing.
It was a completely relaxed experience watching her swim at this meet for the first time.
She wasn’t obsessed with fast times. In fact, she swam the one event she qualified in and she swam it three seconds slower than she did a couple weeks ago.
She climbed out of the pool happy as a clam.
No tears because she didn’t get a certain place or time.
And when we left the pool that day she said to me, “MOMMY! Age groups is so much fun!!!”
AND THAT IS EXACTLY HOW SHE SHOULD FEEL.
So this weekend, I approached every swim like that.
There was one swim of Number 4’s that I was REALLY nervous about. Because it meant a lot to her.
And I might have cheered slightly like a crazy person when she was swimming.
But that was it.
I was pretty tame the rest of the time and focused on just enjoying my kids.
And you know what?
Last year I felt like I had been run over by a freight train when the meet was over. I expended so much emotional energy I literally felt like I’d gone through a war.
But this year, while I was still exhausted by Sunday night, I didn’t feel like I was going (or wanted) to die.
Number 3 and 4 had a GREAT meet.
It wasn’t flawless. They didn’t swim the way they were hoping to in every event.
They killed it in some events. They were disappointed in others. Number 3, especially was disappointed with some of his races.
Number 4 false started in one race and was disqualified.
But this year I was really happy for my kids’ successes AND THEIR FAILURES.
They learned so much about themselves and about other people this weekend.
And for that, I am so grateful.
We could all take a page out of Number 5’s book and remember to just HAVE FUN.
Sometimes it’s the littlest ones who teach us the most.
Through swimming my kids continue to grow and learn so much about life.
so do I.