Several years ago I had a major mom fail. I admit it.
Kinsley did not make the all-star team her first year playing softball. Her little best friend made it. Most of her team made it. She didn’t. She was devastated. It was her first year playing. She wasn’t an all-star and to me-that was okay. I didn’t let her be discouraged. Being me I said,”it was your first year. Other girls have been playing longer. They’ve worked harder. You have to work hard to get better. I you want to be an all-star than next year work harder. Practice. Get better.” She was 7 or 8. My coaching didn’t mean much.
The all-star tournament rolled around. I decided that I could turn this into a character building moment. I gave her THE SPEECH again and told her that a good sport, a good teammate would be there to cheer on her team. She wouldn’t pout that she wasn’t on the team. I then loaded her up in the car and off we went. I thought I was earning a gold mom star. I thought I was making her stronger and was instilling a desire to work harder to achieve the things you want.
I talked all the way there. She was quiet. We arrived at the fields paid out fee and meandered around. There was a different energy at this all-star tournament. I noticed. So did she.
“Kkkkkiiiiiinnnnnnsssssllllleeeeee,” we heard squeals. I looked for the source. An entire team of red and blue ran to the fence. My heart sank. The were adorable. Red, white and blue adorable. Polka dot socks. Bows. Red, white and blue manicures. They looked like all stars. They had obviously bonded during the summer because they were just TOGETHER for lack if a better word. And they were together on one side of the fence looking great-looking proud and happy and special. And my girl was seeing this from the other side of the fence. She turned to look at me and I knew-I knew. This was not a life lesson. This wasn’t building character. This was a mistake.
To her credit she was a really good sport. She chatted and giggled and talked to the girls until their coach called them away to practice. She had kept her trembling, quivering chin still while they erred there but the second they turned her little face fell. It crumpled. She crumpled. And I wanted to cry. I hugged her tight and said, “I am sorry.” Still trying to be a good sport she shrugged. I hugged her a little tighter.
We stayed for the start of the game but left soon after.
That face haunts me even now. I meant well but it was a mommy fail. When she made the swim all star team that next summer I made a big deal. I made her star button shirts and shorts. I did everything I could to erase the memory of her being on the other side of the fence but it wasn’t the same.
My girl has worked hard. She tries. She has an athletes heart. And it’s paid off. Tomorrow she takes the field as an Oconee county all-star softball player. And she is taking the field in red, white and blue. Her red jersey is different than any she’s ever worn and is emblazoned with the OC symbol. Her electric blue pants with red trim fit like a glove. Someone went to a lot if trouble to give them the uniform of their dreams and it worked. She looks great. She looks special and happy. She’s bonded with these girls and is part of the group. She’s part of the team. And this year-she’s on the right side of the fence.
I got up at 3:30am and made red, white and blue bows. I bought her red, white and blue nail polish. I can’t take back my mistake but I can try and make that memory fade my making this memory bigger and better. And that’s what I intend to do.
Red and white but no longer blue.