Monday, August 6, 2012

Best Job In The World: On Sherpas, Chauffeurs and Cheerleaders

It gets me every time. 
You don't have to be an Olympic parent - specifically an Olympic mom - to know this feeling. But for me, this is personal, so I'll share with you why a commercial makes me cry, and my answer may surprise you.

I raised two athletes - one X Game competitor and one Olympian. I had the early mornings, the late nights, the endless hours driving and flying to and from practices and competitions. I experienced the emotional roller coaster rides that go along with growing up - and growing older. I could not be more proud of both my kids for following their dreams. I wouldn't change a thing.

Well, maybe I would change one or two...

Proctor & Gamble's "Thanks Mom" campaign is absolutely brilliant. It presents time capsules of our lives as athletic parents. I don't think there's one of us who can look at the commercials without feeling like they've lived in our homes in some small way. 

But the positive messaging is missing a piece. It's one critical moment that no parent - particularly no mom - ever wants to experience, even though we all do. Some of us live it privately; some of us end up doing it with the whole world watching, and with the weight of the world is resting on our child's shoulders. The expectations of a nation are riding on a performance. The media is laser focused - and then something happens.

I saw it in the anxious eyes of Jordyn Wieber's mom..
and in her daughter's tear-stained cheeks. 

I saw it in the face of John Orozco..

as well as the private moment his mother had to share with the world.

I saw it when my son caught my eye and mouthed "I'm sorry" while heading to the Kiss & Cry in Vancouver after the short program. I've lived quietly with that moment over and over ever since.

As moms, we support our children's dreams early on. We commit ourselves. We commit our lives, our money, and in many instances we even defer our own lives and dreams for one overriding goal. It doesn't matter. We consciously and deliberately made a choice. NONE of us would change it for anything. Truly. 

But I cannot tell you how tough it is to see your kid be disappointed - no, devastated - when what they expected of themselves falls short of their dreams and goals. It's a "boo boo" that Mom can't kiss away, no matter how much we want to try. It's a hug that won't fix the pain they are experiencing at that moment. 

Will that memory fade for them? Never. But how they choose to deal with it and fight through it makes them the champions they are, not only in sports but in life. How WE choose to deal with it defines us, too.

As moms, we have the best job in the world; that's true. But no job comes without growing pains. No triumph comes without trial. No win comes without understanding loss. No future comes without a past. It's all about what we learn from our experiences. Like the old saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." What we learn from what kills us inside makes us better able to cope the next time around, if we're lucky enough to get another chance.

So, thanks P&G for recognizing all athletes' moms (and families) around the world. We may be the unsung heroines and heroes, but it's not about us. We're the Sherpas. We're the chauffeurs.We're the bankers. We're the cheerleaders. We're the chief cooks and bottle washers. We're the ones who believe "Anything is Possible." Our kids are the ones who prove it over and over again...even when that inevitable " something" happens. Life is a continual series of "somethings." 

Support Team USA and all the athletes who represent their sports in the Olympic and Paralympic games, as well as the kids on the ice, in the gyms and on the fields of your hometowns. Support your kids, and all the ones who represent their families and themselves with Olympic-like spirit. Teach them that it's not always about winning a gold medal, it's about displaying a golden heart, and sharing it with others. 

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."  ~ Baron  Pierre de Coubertin

(Of course, it doesn't hurt if you've "conquered" along the way ~ even if it's  conquering your fears.)


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    1. I agree with the above article. Being a mom, grand mom, great grand mom of children in sports, there is laughter, joy, and sometimes tears from not wining or the stress of wining, but it all boils down to the love of what ever sport you are in and building character. Pass it on to others in life!