I have experienced a letdown recently and well I felt the need to share it with a friend...one that "gets" me. So, Emma is in this gymnastics class. What many don't realize is this is THE gymnastics class that determines whether a child goes to the competitive team or the recreational team. To help you understand the difference between the two I will need to better explain them both.
My Cousin works as a coach for a different gym and when you mention Emma's gym; her first question is "is your daughter going competitive"? I of course asked why. To her reply "they have one of the best competitive teams in the state and in the five state area". Great. Thanks for sharing. Think back to high school...competitive team is equivalent to the popular cheerleaders/dancers of the school and the rec team...well they are the pocket protecting nerds. Literally, if you look at the parents in the gym you see a group of the competitive team parents with their ipads, caribou coffees, real Louis Vittons purses, their hair looked like it was done by a professional, of course nails were perfectly manicured, some had nanny's with them for their other children, etc. Okay so I may be exaggerating slightly, but it is a lot like this. Then you look over to the group of rec team parents...some look like they were trying to get out of bed that day, but they severely missed. I guess they get an A for effort though. Okay back to my story. The point is you can definitely see a division between the competitive parents and the rec parents. The groups do not mingle with one another. Well unless you get an unsuspecting father who has zero clue about these two social groups...like Joe. You can talk with the people within your group, but heaven forbid you speak with a competitive parent?
Okay, so the class that Emma is in. This is the deciding class. This is also the only class in which the competitive parents will give you a little taste of what it's like to be a part of their group because the goal of everyone there is to go competitive. So, I had my little taste and boy did I get hungry for more! I found myself dressing nicer to the gym. Hell, I dressed up after work...that should have been my first clue. I started "coaching" Emma on the side. Yep, went back to my gymnastics days, which actually was a lot of fun so that wasn't all that bad. I even started bringing in caribou coffee at 5pm...wtf. Apparently, I couldn't figure out to get the non-caffeine and so I would be up until 1am, which gave me more time to think about my "game plan" to get into this competitive world. Emma was doing amazingly well in gymnastics. I was definite that she was going competitive. She was doing backwalkovers when few kids were, one handed cartwheels, cartwheels on beam, etc. Then it came time for her testing day. Let me just say what testing day was like. First of all, Joe did not ensure Emma was well rested, he did not provide healthy meals while I was at work, he did not have her practice her skills, so you can imagine how testing day went. Though they take into consideration the entire quarter of class, they really look at testing day to show what these kids know. As you can imagine, testing did not go so well. Feeling that my competitive team was slipping through my fingers I did what any reasonable parent would do and I talked to the coach and asked what Emma's chances were for the competitive team. Then I heard those little words that punched me so violently in the face, I thought I was having a heart attack...
"We think Emma will be a great addition to our Rec team"
I don't remember walking out of the building that day. I most definitely don't remember what I said to the coach after that. I do remember looking back and feeling like I was looking at my high school self seeing that group of popular cheerleaders/dancers laughing and pointing at me while the group of nerds are welcoming me to their group. Maybe at that point I ran out of the building. I'm not entirely certain.
So, I go home and I am attempting to explain my woes to Joe (okay clearly you are laughing right now at the thought of this). I get it and you are right. Trying to explain something like this to Joe is like him explaining hunting to me...snooze fest, but I am devastated and needed to talk to someone. It turns out that he was exactly who I needed to talk to because he was able to provide a lot of perspective since he really didn't "get" my social anguish. The first thing he said was "what was the problem with rec team?" To my reply well nothing, but I want her to be in competition. He asked me to say what I just said. I did and of course little lightbulb went off. He said it sounds like you are losing sight of what really matters. He was right. So, I asked Emma if she was upset that she was going to be on the rec team and not the competitive team and she looked at me and said "what are you talking about?" I think it was that moment that was the point of clarity...the real lightbulb! She was never going to gymnastics to try and make it on a certain team, she just loved gymnastics. The incessant need for her to be on the competitive team was from my need to have her be the best at something because she is a reflection of me and I always wanted to be the best at something...clearly being the best parent wasn't working out (lol). So I decided to do a bit of reframing of this whole situation and in turn a few other things too...with the help from Joe (who knew he was so enlighten? hmmmm).
1. I no longer have to try and be someone that I am not or don't want to be. That is where you come in and why I am writing this letter. I want to surround myself with people who understand me, who knows my kids fight like cats and dogs and I do whatever I can to get them to stop, but nothing seems to work, but love me anyway. I don't want to feel like I have to impress this competitive team with all that they have. That's not really the person I am anyway, God really knows what he is doing!
2. I won't have to spend every day at the gym at practice and certainly tons of money per month in hopes that Emma would compete in the Jr. Olympics.
3. More free time equals more time spent with friends or family or with my girls.
4. Emma is still in gymnastics and still loves it. Nothing has changed on her end. She sees no difference. Wonder how long she will have her innocence? I guess I just need to bottle it up somehow because one day that innocence will be gone.
5. My perception of the rec parents is way off. While there is a definite division of rec parents and competitive parents, I just don't have time in my life nor do I want to take the time to allow for people to steal my energy by me having to be someone that I am not. If I am not liked, that's okay. That was an extremely hard realization for me to come to because I struggle with desperately wanting to be liked by others. I have always struggled with this.
Joe may have put it a little more simplistic: "so let me get this straight, if Emma were on the competition team, we would have to pay more per month, she would practice almost daily at 5 years old, and we would have to travel all over and take her out of school for competitions???" Okay, when he says it like that and as I am writing it; it makes me smile and thank god that she is not going competitive!
I guess my point of writing to you was to tell you how important you, Jas, and your kids are to me. Like I stated earlier in the letter, I need to surround myself with individuals who understand me, who I don't have to impress (all the time) because frankly I am tired. I am tired of trying to present as perfect...perfect house, perfect kids, perfect husband. As I sit here at 5am on a Saturday morning and bawl while typing this, I feel many different emotions. I am upset at myself for being consumed by something that was so superficial and potentially ruining valuable relationships while focused on this one goal. I am happy that I can move on from my goal of wanting Emma to be the best gymnast to just letting her have fun. Things aren't perfect here. This house is in shambles with different projects going on, the kids fight constantly (I try cleaning and well that's like brushing your teeth with Oreo's) and Joe and my communication is probably the worst of any husband/wife. Through it all though, I would still say I am blessed. Thanks for being a true friend!