This time last year, Youngest was gearing up for the dream of a lifetime… going to the Junior Olympics National Championships for Tumbling and Trampoline. After going and placing 6th in the nation in Tumbling and 12th in the nation in Double Mini Trampoline, she decided to retire. Why? She’d been doing this all her life, she achieved her dream of going to the Olympics, and now wanted to try something new. Something that she’d always wanted to try. Cheerleading. It was a long arduous, heart-wrenching decision on her part. But she made it and stuck to it by taking classes and trying out.
Alas, she didn’t make the cut – she didn’t smile enough and her voice wasn’t loud enough (truly surprising since I feel he need for earplugs at home). Down and dejected, she picked herself up and continued the classes throughout the school year. More and more, she sought out other venues that could appease her need for activity. We signed her up at a rec center and she ran, worked out, took Yoga. One evening, dinner time a couple of weeks ago, out of nowhere, she begins a conversation with me. It went like this:
Y: Mom? (she seems tentative)
Y: I want to go back to Team. (bites lip, face reddens, eyes water, she swipes the tears away)
Me: You do? Wow! Talk to me. What’s going on? I can see you’re very emotional about this.
Y: I miss the motivation, the competition. I miss having something to look forward to everyday and a goal to challenge myself with.
Holy hopping snot, Batman! My heart ached for her and what she’d been living with all year by leaving what she’d loved and done most of her life. And how hard it must have been to come to terms with it all! Floating on a cloud from her success of the summer to rejection at the beginning of fall. Sometimes, it takes being away from what you love to be able to appreciate it relevance in your life.Of course, I said yes. But as any mom would do, I reminded her of the things that bothered her before, because absence makes us wax nostalgic, and I wanted her to be sure of her decision. I came to find out she’d been thinking about returning for a while and had thought through these issues. She was ready to accept it all.
This past Wednesday, she returned to the team, the excitement of her peers, and the welcoming arms of her coach, who, when asked, readily said he’d take her back in a heartbeat. I hadn’t seen her smile so broadly since Nationals! She’s where she needs to be. She’s where she fits. She’s home.