For me, the most difficult parenting moments require letting them go to be who they are becoming while simutaneously attempting to protect them from the hairpin curves in the path they are careening down.
This week was filled with the (almost) teen angst of trying out for a middle school sports team. The eighth grade soccer team. The first possibility of being cut from a team.
It was a three day process in a four day school week. The first day was a team meeting, the following two days were the actual tryouts. The entire week was an anxiety driven shit storm of emotion.
Harper came home from the first day meeting feeling encouraged. She liked the coach and she felt of the girls trying out she had a pretty good shot at making the team.
The second day she burst into tears the moment she got into the house, convinced she'd screwed up every drill, certain she'd looked like she had never played the sport a day in her life. There was no consoling her. She was certain not only that she couldn't possibly make the team, but also that we, her parents, had no idea how important making the team was to her, that we don't care about what is important to her, and we have probably never loved her anyway.
The third day she made the team. The sun began to shine, unicorns sang, and everything was sparkly once again.
Because Harper loves soccer. She has played since she was six and she is a decent player, but she, by no means, stands out. She understands the game and anticipates where she needs to be as well as what she needs to do next, but sometimes it appears that her head and her feet are not attached to the same body, sometimes she is a split second behind herself. And, she is simply not as aggressive as is often necessary in order to truly excel in the sport of soccer. More than one of her coaches over the years have told me how coachable Harper is, how much they enjoy having her on their teams, but that you just can't teach aggressive. Aggressive is the one "natural" ability so crucial to soccer that Harper lacks. With 23 girls trying out, there was no guarentee she would get a spot on the team.
So, I hadn't slept more an hour that second night, and my stomach was knotted the entire three days because I wasn't sure if she would make the team and I was frightened for her. As much as I was cheering her on, I was caught in that parenting limbo of wanting something so badly for my child and being terrified she wouldn't get it, while having absolutely zero control over the situation. Watching her, supporting her as much as she would allow, secretly more than she would allow, while realizing that if the crash came I was tragically illequipt to help her heal.
And, we are only two weeks into this school year. I fear this is going to be a bumpy ride.