Not like me is okay, too.

3 Oct

I am competitive. Not the kind of competitive that leads to murder plots or anything but make no mistake: I like to win – or at least be better than the next guy in certain things. These things most certainly include Scrabble and Words with Friends, which I play like steel-cage death matches and pretty much anything I do with my hubby.

When you’re a mother, you also have the option of being competitive on behalf of your children. Three years ago, I watched a parent get asked to leave an AYSO soccer game because he was screaming at the referee. What made it particularly memorable was that the players were all 9 and 10 years old. The memory stands out in my mind because while this guy was completely out of control, I could see how he got there. I understand what it’s like to want your kid to want to win – to want to be the best they can. I completely understand how frustrating it can be when they just don’t give a crap. It can make you a little crazy.

Today I went for a run with Kitty, my 12-year-old. She’s running modified cross-country this year, her first in middle school. This has special significance for me because I am a runner, and have been since my high school years, so I’m especially proud to see her follow in my footsteps.

Which of course, sucks for her.

As we headed up the steepest incline of our run I was focused on wanting her to do her best. Same as we all wish for our children. More than that though, I want her to want it – I want her to have the same passion for the sport that I do. If I’m being totally honest, I probably pushed a little too hard – no harder than I push myself, but too hard for a 12-year-old.

Halfway through our run, on the flat stretch at the top of the hill, I realized that running – not unlike most sports or hobbies – is like a love affair that develops over time. Sometimes it lasts, and sometimes it doesn’t. My relationship with running has been sustained and sustaining. Maybe hers will be different. Maybe not.

Then, into the final mile, we slowed down and forgot about the pace or time. As we ran along, from shadow to sun on a beautiful fall afternoon. We talked and laughed. I understood that I need to let her relationship with the sport I love develop on its own and believe, that if it’s meant to, it will. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.

I struggle to give my kids the room to find their own way – to acknowledge the ways we differ – particularly when it comes to my competitive streak. If there were such a thing as a parent report card, this is the area where I’d receive a “Needs Improvement”.

I can do better.

I take it as a challenge.


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