Some may wonder why I linger here. Linger at the bus stop, until the taillights fade. Linger at doors even after my children have passed through. Although I know they probably won’t look back, they haven’t looked back for months or even years, I remember a time when little noses pressed hard against bus windows and little hands waved from 2nd story classrooms. I remember the times there were tears because they didn’t want to see me go, clinging to my leg and gripping my finger tight. I know they probably won’t look back, but I linger just in case. Just in case today is the day they feel a bit insecure, Just in case today is the day they need that nod of encouragement, Just in case today is the day they need an extra smile of reassurance, Just in case today is the day they need to know that I am there. So I linger, just in case today is the day they look back.
If today is the day they look back, I will be there. I will give them a nod of encouragement and a smile of reassurance. And sometimes I linger, not for them, but for me. I linger, because as I watch them, big and bold, I want to remember them little. I want to remember little noses pressed to bus windows. I want to remember little hands that once gripped my finger tight and waved from second story classrooms. And sometimes, as I linger here and watch them go, I have to wipe away the tears, because as much as I love seeing them grow, it’s still hard on mommas letting go.
My son tried out for a competitive 9u baseball team this summer. He had just completed the 8u season with the same team, but this time, he didn’t make the team. I went to every game and (almost) every practice, so trust me, I know his strengths and his weaknesses. Knowing his strengths and his weaknesses, as well as knowing there were over twice as many hopefuls as number of spots on the team, I also knew the odds were not in his favor. Needless to say, I was not surprised by the phone call that came on Monday morning from the coach, breaking the bad news – “He didn’t make the team.” Don’t get me wrong, my heart broke a little that day. I loved that team. Those boys, those coaches, those moms (and dads, but mostly the moms), had become dear to me over the course of the season. And when I told my boy the news, my heart broke wide open. He was crushed. He loved that team. Those boys and those coaches had become dear to him over the course of the season. And truth be told, my heart aches for him just a bit (well, maybe more than a bit), every time I hear him share this disappointment with others, but I’m glad he didn’t make the team. Why? Because if I am being honest (which I try to be, even when it’s hard), he wasn’t good enough.
In the aftermath of the disappointing news, I wiped his tears and hugged him hard. I told him that I was sorry he didn’t make it and that I knew how disappointed he was, but I didn’t tell him that he should have made the team or that it was unfair. Because if I am being honest, (which I try to be, even when it’s hard), it was fair. He wasn’t good enough. I know him, as a player, I know him. I play catch with him, I pitch to him, I coach him. I watch all of his games and (almost) all of this practices, and I watched the tryout. I know his strengths and I know his weaknesses.
In this culture of participation trophies and “everyone’s a winner” (all of which I believe in and support in youth sports), I’m glad he didn’t make the team. This won’t be the last time he isn’t chosen for a team, a job, an award. It is just the first time. At age 9, some might argue that it is too soon, or too young to “be cut” from a sports team, but I disagree. My son has fallen in love with baseball and not making the team has proven to be an opportunity. An opportunity to set goals that are attainable, but require hard work, dedication and a realistic assessment of progress. When he first got the news that day, he initially told me that he no longer wanted to play baseball, but like I said, he has fallen in love with baseball. So instead of quitting or giving up, he has continued to practice, working on every aspect of his game – hitting, fielding, throwing. And all that hard work – it’s making him better – a better baseball player. But the growth is beyond baseball – it’s in focus and confidence.
His goal is to make the 10u team next year. He might make it, he might not, but, make it or not, he will know that he worked hard, he didn’t quit, he didn’t give up. He knows that he has become a better baseball player because of that hard work. It’s an experience and a lesson I hope he will carry with him through life. Goals are worth working for and dreams are worth chasing. So, as much as I loved that team – those boys, those coaches, those moms (and dads, but mostly the moms) – I’m glad he didn’t make the team.
I recently began my annual read of Six Hours One Friday, by Max Lucado. For the last few years, it has served as a reminder for me, a reminder of the sacrifice made by Christ, a reminder of those hours spent on the cross, one Friday, on a hill in Calvary. This year, this Palm Sunday, I am reflecting on the week before the crucifixion. Jesus entered Jerusalem as a KING! “Hosanna to the Son of David!” the crowds shouted, laying down their cloaks to provide a Red Carpet welcome to the KING! But, Jesus knew what was coming and He knew it was coming soon. I can’t help but wonder how He felt at that moment, knowing those same voices that were shouting “Hosanna” today, would be shouting, “Crucify,” tomorrow?
May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
Strength, dear daughters, comes in many forms. As you grow, I hope you will appreciate your strength. Never be ashamed of your physical strength – the strength that develops in your legs from the miles that you run or the hours that you dance. Embrace that strength and try not to take if for granted, but remember that strength is so much more than the physical. Strength is showing kindness even when it isn’t the popular thing to do. Strength is speaking up when necessary, but also knowing when speaking your mind is more hurtful than helpful. Strength is standing up for what you believe is right, but also admitting when you are wrong. Strength is recognizing that you need help sometimes and not being afraid to ask for it. Strength is trying. Strength is failing. Strength is trying again, even after you fail. Strength is getting back up after you fall. Strength is starting. Strength is finishing. Strength can be loud, but it can also be quiet. Strength is believing in yourself, even when others doubt. Strength is believing in others, even when they don’t believe in themselves.