Whatever It Takes

Picture a day of quality time in the happiest place on Earth.  You see smiling faces and a little bit of magic awaits you around every corner.

As grateful and happy as I was to spend time in this land of happiness, I could not escape a hint of sadness as my seven year old could not take it.  Sensory sensitivity is becoming apparent in various ways and there was certainly a great deal of that happening at every turn.

The standing, the walking, and the lines were just too much for her to take.

Though she looked the part in every way, her body told her it was on overload.  We found many magical things to do while waiting for her brother to ride and explore with sheer delight.  We took a much slower pace and took many breaks.  While we waited, Make a Wish kids and others who were also facing a challenge passed by us.  For those children and my own daughter, I struggled at times to face a cold, hard fact.  My child could not experience this trip like many other children her age do.

Her legs could not handle the walking and the weight of her on my back more times than expected was just a realization that careful considerations and thought must go into every thing for Kelsey; happy times included.

In the end, she found  a heroine in Star Wars’ Rey and there was one souvenir she just had to have.  Holding her father’s hand at a point when she felt strong and confident, she strolled with pride.

In this moment, I was happy.  She is a warrior and for her, I will do:

“Whatever it takes
You take me to the top, I’m ready for
Whatever it takes,” Imagine Dragons, Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes. For you.  Always.

My Heart is on the Mat

I once saw a shirt that stated My Heart is on the Mat.

To any mother who has watched three periods of sweat, endurance, and passion in their wrestler’s eyes, you know exactly what that shirt means.

Win or lose, the young men and women shake hands, give it their all, and often times leave the mat with raw emotion on their faces.  It is a mental battle and a sport that creates mental toughness.  

Mental toughness can be difficult to achieve.  Few activities create or work on mental toughness in 2018.  Wrestling, however, is all about the heart and soul of small failures leading to great victories and tough losses that challenge the competitor to work harder.  Stamina, sportsmanship, and pride are developed and fostered with every passing week.

Though my typically weekly thoughts express my worry and serve as attempt to gain clarity, share hope, educate, and raise awareness, today my gratitude is for a sport that helps my family focus and my son escape.  It is the sport that gives my son an outlet for all that I know he cannot understand in this world and all that he questions about what he sees. 

On the mat, it is him against the world.  He stands there strong and tall, ready for battle.  

It is a time for him to shine, focus, and I watch as he places his heart on the mat, minute after minute, period after period.  Win or lose, there is always something gained.

To all the mothers who watch their sons on the mat, I support you, and I understand you.

My son does not always win, though I kiss him and tell him how proud of him I am each time he gets out there.  I am so proud of his progress, his intensity, and his effort.  The truth is that no matter what the score at the end of the match, he has gained a new skill, level of confidence, or insight on a skill or position to work on in the future.  Each match helps him to grow and better himself as a person and as an athlete.

Bright Beginner

Yesterday, like many mothers sending her child off to Kindergarten, I shed a tear as I watched my five-year-old stroll joyfully onto the bus.  I tossed and turned the night before wondering how her day would go.  I was both ecstatic and anxious as she was set to embark on an incredible milestone.  My tiny tears were those of happiness, hope, and excitement.

Three weeks ago, this was not the same carefree kid that realized her educational journey was beginning.  Instead, fear seemed to hit her out of the blue on a Thursday evening.  I heard sobbing coming from her bedroom.  I knew that these were not tears of pain, and I wondered what could possibly be the source of the tears.

“Mommy, what if no one likes me in Kindergarten?” she inquired when I snuggled in closely.

While my first reaction was to laugh at my social butterfly fearing friendship, I realized how serious her worry was at that moment.  Apprehension quickly escalated the more she began to think about Kindergarten and all of its components.  Her concerns included eating lunch in a cafeteria, riding on the bus, and meeting a new teacher.  Of all of the worries I have had this summer and fears that I have attempted to face, these were hers and quite valid they were.

Her brother experienced these same troubles and overheard our conversation.  He happily asked to join our conversation and assured Kelsey that everything would be just fine.  He also shared some tips.  My favorite piece of advice from the seven-year-old sage came when Kelsey noted that each new child would actually be a stranger on that first day.  My son replied, “that is true Kels.  If you are not sure about the kids on the first day, just say, ‘Hi!   My name is Kelsey, maybe we can play tomorrow?’  Then watch them during the first day and decide if you’d like to play with them the next day.”  Then my wise son shook his head and said, “On second thought, maybe you can just say, ‘would you like to be my friend?’  These will be the kids in your class all year long so you might as well just make friends the second you meet them.”  

The two young scholars continued the discussion for almost thirty minutes with advice, worries, and tips to master the art of Kindergarten.  

Kelsey’s trepidation followed by complete comfort in her brother’s words forced me to marvel at the thought of childhood and its innocence.  The fears she had were quite legitimate, and the only ones I wish she ever had.

When the bus halted, I watched her linger and carefully observe the bigger kids.  She was not entirely sure what to do at first.  Then, she looked back, gave a wee wave and bounced on the bus full of hope and excitement.  The educational journey of my daughter had officially begun.  

Later on that evening, Kelsey wanted her big brother to know that she took his advice.  “Today, I saw a girl with her head down.  Maybe she was sad or scared.  I didn’t even know her name but I said, ‘Hi, I’m Kelsey.  Do you want to be my friend?  Guess what, she did!”  Beaming with excitement over friendship and her brother’s wisdom, I could not help but smile and get a little bit teary eyed.  

The tiny tears that made it difficult to finish cooking dinner represented joy, pride, and part of the notion that I must be doing something right.  I guess tonight was a milestone for me as a mother, too.

To my Kindergarten girl and second grade star, I hope that you always remember:

“You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!