September 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
I wish I could press my finger against a moment and keep time from pushing us so quickly into the next distraction; I would sit a little longer on the sidelines of your last game. Over the past three weeks you have grown from lost to found. The doubts that kept you so firmly rooted in place were missing yesterday from your form. Watching you chase after the game and track the ball, moving between plays, there was a lightness of self and fullness of presence.
Post-game you had the infectious energy of someone too soon extracted from an experience. Tired and proud you didn’t linger boastfully over the win, but rather shuffled funny insights from the field. You rattled off nicknames and playbacks, injuries and inside jokes while stripping off shoes and shin guards. The uniform remained.
This alone, your team colors, best represents the evolution of your experience.
After your first game you quickly shed and scattered your uniform into the forgotten discards that litter your room. You washed the experience from the day and cloaked yourself in emotions that fought for freedom from an uncomfortable commitment.
One week later your uniform became a badge of honor, evidence that you were part of something. Uncertain in your position but certain in your placement among your teammates. It was the first time you wouldn’t remove your team colors.
This past week your jersey traveled to school and became a new marker for self, a symbol of belonging, and a hallmark around our home. Late Friday night I was washing it in anticipation of yesterday’s game.
Belonging doesn’t happen independently of challenges or uniquely by way of happiness. You have created a place for yourself with effort and accountability, determination and persistence. It has been complicated and uncomfortable, confusing and even overwhelming. Without natural talent or experience, you have had to create trust by showing up to each practice ready to work and willing to learn.
Similarly, success is often a collective endeavor measured by individual growth. Your coach could have allowed you to hide on the sidelines as easily as we, your parents, could have offered you escape. Instead we stand on either side of the same field, looking for strength without ignoring error.
We are only halfway through this new endeavor and I anticipate there will be more challenges as you grow more fully into this experience. Remember, win or lose, it is enough to watch you play the game.
September 12, 2014 § 6 Comments
These past few weeks I have found myself happily entangled in accidental good fortune, bound to individuals whose place in my life informs a wealth of possibility. I see the boldness of this fiber connecting chance and destiny to gift me wisdom and patience, strength and community; the richness of each invitation so subtle I might have overlooked the fullness of fate’s offering had my attention been otherwise guided. Today I am pausing to give thanks for the intricate path of life that presents us with moments of choreographed chaos and uncluttered clarity.
September 7, 2014 § 6 Comments
I’ve been writing your sister more often of late, but my mind holds a space for you despite the deceptive inequality of letters. I see you struggling a bit to find your way, the determined quiet that speaks to your ever evolving independence. I collect your stories and note your choices, suffer your worries and applaud your conviction, temper my counsel with familiar boundaries.
I am standing a little further in your shadow, still ever mindful of your experiences. The truth is, some days the best I can do is offer you less. There are mistakes and accomplishments more fully measured without my presence tugging the scale in one direction or another. Pieces of your story that must be written in your hand.
I’m still here.
September 6, 2014 § 8 Comments
This morning was your first soccer game. Until today your frame of reference for the sport was limited to Kindergarten drills and gym class scrimmages. Your enthusiasm for this new experience was based more in an excuse to spend time with a friend than a newly recognized passion for the game. Still, I was proud of your willingness to be uncomfortable and unknowledgeable, to risk failing in an attempt to succeed, to be a part of something larger than yourself.
I anticipated you might play poorly and I secretly wished you a natural inclination that could compensate for the absence of experience. What I didn’t expect was to find my shortcomings centerfield from the sidelines. You were lost and still, overwhelmed and hiding in plain sight. Each gesture of confusion was both genuine and dismissive, I could feel you attempting to shed the experience even as it unfolded around you.
Your teammates were struggling against other children, but you were struggling against yourself.
You may never play soccer again after this season, but you will undoubtably find yourself in new experiences confronted with familiar fears. I understand the temptation to hide behind excuses, to avoid discomfort; these are my ghosts.
No one is perfect. Each of us possess unique strengths and inopportune insecurities that inform our choices. My greatest regrets rest in moments of paralysis when I allowed my path to be shaped by the actions of those around me, bending to my doubts. Even my most colorful, public errors of assertion are rights of passage; proof that I have not forfeited my right to grow and learn in the face of uncertainty. It is a far greater loss to fail at trying; a hollow victory to succeed without effort.
Win or lose, you have to play the game.
September 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
Last night over homework we pushed and pulled against one another’s expectations with false assumptions that undermined good intentions. I clung tightly to a desire to be purposeful and present in your learning while you built walls of righteous independence with admirable expressions of stubborn determination to hide hurt feelings.
Like an argument never spoken, we were responding to private fears and insecurities more than one another’s beliefs. I almost dismissed disrespectful undertones as a premature posturing of pre-teen arguments to come. Then, with a deep breath, I turned to leave and caught the sigh in your shoulders; recognizing a tenderness and vulnerability that mirrored my own.
It was an opportunity I might have missed had I blinked or looked in the wrong direction. Instead, by chance, I found the path to a conversation I was unwittingly silencing. First, though, I had to hear a few hard truths.
My messages of support were clouded in subliminal statements of judgement. Somewhere along the way you came to hear a criticism of can’t.
At this I wanted to bristle, I could feel the dander of prickly injustice. My head spun against the false contradiction to my genuine intentions, but my speech only cluttered yours. So I listened.
Every struggle shared with your brother, each statement of can and must; assertions of ability and questions of effort, however irrelevant to your personality or needs, had been carefully itemized and internalized as measurements for my expectations. Within these messages was the beginning of a new awareness of how my words translate your assumptions.
Today is cluttered with commitments, but I needed to carve out a moment to preserve yesterday least I forget this lesson between us: I had to first hear how I sounded to your ears before you were willing to listen. I had to accept responsibility for unintentional harm before you would invite my help.
I’m still listening.
September 2, 2014 § 4 Comments
Today I watched one minute fold into the next, counting down the time between waiting for and recognizing the sound of your hand on the doorknob. I was impatient as I spent the seconds clumsily busying myself with empty tasks to keep still.
Between the false distractions I wondered if you look for me the way I look for you in familiar fragments of our days. I praised my patience even as I chastised my weakness, abandoning my perch to bridge the space between us. With each step I wondered if my love is too much, if the space you fill is too large for your needs.
As I rounded the corner of our street, pledging silently to go no further, I spied your easy gait as you stretched your arm high into the air, waving dramatically. On a whim I elongated my arms into wings and marveled as you mirrored my lines. When finally you were close enough to see the twinkle in your smile you slipped into a run and I lowered my arms as you leapt, holding you tightly against the memory of so many similar exchanges.
Thank you, sweet girl, for quietly answering questions I was struggling to form; for filling the space that is yours alone.
August 31, 2014 § 6 Comments
There are uncomfortable experiences of self that are centered in perfectionism; pages torn whose rough remnants are stubbornly stapled among those unmarred. I sometimes feel the knowing tug of sharp expectations as they pull at my thoughts and ruffle contentment. They are self-imposed standards that speak to a perceived ineptness scaled against impossible expectations.
Failure is first painful for the uncomfortable perceptions of self that glare unkindly, taunting old wounds. Slowly, persistently, the mind smooths over crumbled insecurities, stretching emotions to accommodate a gentler logic; one that forgives sharp creases for the fullness of their texture.
It is a personal poetry, the faults and fears illogical once voiced, but too cumbersome to be kept in silence. Instead I speak the difficult truths onto clean pages, gathering fragments of self from torn pages.