I love the Olympics. I watch the personal stories and I am riveted. The excitement of competition never gets old. I feel proud of our athletes and country. I even cried today at this commercial.
I've been thinking about the reasons that we as mothers do what we feel compelled to do for our children. We start them in school at 18 months. Make sure they have swimming lessons. And gymnastics. And soccer. And tennis. Even if they don't feel like going. We agonize about our decisions and then wonder and worry about the effects of our choices. Is it just a form of torture?
Why do we (or maybe just me) feel the need to push them? Is it so they can start early in the competition of life? Is it to build confidence and social skills? Is it so we can live vicariously through them and give them every privledge which we didn't have? Is it to make sure that they don't feel "left behind"?
Do you ever dream (okay, secretely) that your child excels in a sport and will be an olympian? [PS my daughter was placed in ADVANCED 3 year old gymnastics and I imagined this.] Is that the goal? Is anything short of that failure?
I don't necessarily have many (or any) answers to the above questions. I just ask them. To myself. Constantly.
I did recently enroll my 3 year old in tennis. I thought for a minute that it was quite a bit early to start, but I was taking a league at the same time, and I thought she would enjoy playing near Mommy. Needless to say I was beaming with pride as she followed the teachers directions, ran around the court and even picked up balls without me. What a big girl. And then my mind went wild. What if she was good, no, great at tennis like I always wanted to be. What if she serves like my husband, but has a great baseline game like I do. She could go far. She could win tournaments. Travel around with a coach. Win medals and feel proud.
Or, she could just be good and have fun doing it. Wouldn't that be enough?
Then I turn back to myself and focused on my game. I had recently joined the gym. I am playing in a league with other men and women of my skill level. The game is competative and fun. I think of my parents and am thankful that they pushed me to play. I am glad that I had the experience of competative play without the pressure. I am glad that I can pick up a racquet and rally with someone I don't know and make small talk.
And I realize that this is what I want for my children.