This last week my oldest daughter, Timyra, qualified as an individual for the Illinois Middle School Cross Country Meet. On Friday morning the day before the meet and the day they would leave for the meet the school did a send off. I went to the school to watch. They had the kids run the halls and the classrooms came out to cheer them on and wish them luck. After the run through the halls I went to my car and I could not stop crying. I was wondering why this of all the previous things I’ve watch my kids do, why did this get me so chocked up?
Then it hit me, I know that feeling. I know what it feels like to work so hard for something and watch it come true. At one point Timyra came to me and said, “Mom it just doesn’t feel real.” She was having a hard time understanding her achievement. And I think I was getting so emotional because I know. I know the sense of aww in yourself when you can’t even wrap your head around what is going on. I felt deeply connected to her and was experiencing strong empathy for what she was experiencing.
Fast forward to the next day at the state cross country meet. She didn’t have her best run time wise or place wise, but she learned more that day than she had in any other race she’s ever run. This was the first time she’s run in a race with more than 100 people, there were 316 runners. The state meet is inherently the fastest runners in the state, just because you’re the fastest runner in your sectional only means you’re running with all the fastest runners from all the sectionals. She was certainly intimidated and her nerves got the best of her. But what she learned from this race at such a young age is what it’s like to run with lots of fast girls all trying to be the best. What she learned at that meet was more than she learned the entire season. She told me after the race that next year she wants to be in the top 50 and this year she placed 202 of 316 and she beat all the girls who didn’t even make it.
I spoke to some others and they said she had a bad day or stop making excuses for her performance. What I think was missed is I’m not making excuses, I’m acknowledging that there is more to a race than your time and place. There is so much more to these experiences than the tangible. We have to remember as parents that we must support them be there for them to help them navigate the wins that don’t come across as obvious wins. Timyra needed to understand that this was the race she needed that day to help her grow and mature as a runner. Know I am your biggest fan and I always will be.
I was chatting with a grandmother near the start line while we were waiting for the race to start. She was so excited for her granddaughter and was saying she got up at 6:00am to drive 2 hours to watch her run. She mentioned her granddaughter didn’t want her to come because she was going to come in last. The Grandmother told me I would not miss this for the world. My granddaughter is the first girl to ever qualify for state from her school and even if she comes in last I will be here cheering her on. So I guess this doesn’t stop after being a parent it continues into grandparenthood. My parent’s made the trip as well to cheer her on!
I also want my kids to understand that I know. I know what it’s like to come in first in a race and I know what it’s like to not show up at the starting line. I know what it’s like to get my heartbroken and I know what it’s like to be loved. I know what it’s like to do really hard things and sometimes win and sometimes lose. I know what it’s like to do things that are scary. I know what it’s like to get an F in a college course and then retake the class and pass with a D. I know what it’s like to do a job I hate so much I quiet without another job having 2 kids and a husband relying on me. I know what it’s like to feel like a fool and feel like the smartest person in the room. I know what it’s like to not fit in and I know what’s like to know you’re in the right place. What I also know is that I’m here for you and I know. If I don’t know what you’re going through I’m here to listen and we’ll get through this. Nothing is off limits, EVER!!! And no matter what I’m always your biggest fan and I’ll be there always to ride this crazy road called life!!