Two weeks ago I was sitting with my daughter Paris at the Barnes & Noble coffee shop. We were looking through books and casually talking over a bowl of chili. Killing some time before going to gymnastics, Paris looked up at me and said, “I wish I didn’t have to go to gym today.”
How many times has Paris said this to me over the past two years?
How often have I listened?
This time, I heard her and replied, “How about we don’t go back?”
I thought Paris was going to pass out. She looked at me and said, “Really mommy?” While I felt pangs in the pit of my stomach, something told me this was the right thing to do. The truth is Paris had not enjoyed gymnastics for a long time. I’ll go so far as to say it stole a little bit of her girl- piece- by- piece. It had started to chip away at her confidence, joy and happiness and I stood idly by. Year after year she stayed on the team and when prompted as to why she stayed, Paris responded, “I’m not a quitter.”
Interesting…It wasn’t because she loved it but due to the pressure of “Not being a quitter.” Reflecting on her time as a gymnast, I did see a drastic change. What started as something fun to do in her spare time turned into a part time job- friends became competitors, giggles during practice turned to silence and joy turned to a daily grind. It was no longer about developing skills and taking on new challenges; it was about winning. So this time I followed my gut and with six simple words, “How about we don’t go back?” freed my daughter.
Did I do The Right Thing?
I’m not going to say I didn’t feel sick to my stomach and sad for a week or so because I did. This was our life. Paris was at the gym three hours a day, four days a week; after a long day at school. Then she had to do hours of homework, sometimes not getting to bed until 10 pm.
As time passed and I began to process our decision, I felt elated. By allowing Paris the freedom to make her own choice I realized she would be able to explore new things and tap into her true gifts and talents. She became excited about trying a dance class, tumbling clinic, an art class, French tutoring and girl scouts with her friends. Paris started riding the bus home after school instead of heading straight to the gym and we were able to spend quality time with her, as a family. She became more excited about school projects and even homework!
As I watched Paris I felt “freedom” ooze out of her. I can’t even explain the emotion. It was like a new beginning, with opportunities everywhere. For the first time in years, she was free. So here’s what I will confess- I loved watching Paris do gymnastics…something about seeing her run across the floor doing a back hand spring- back tuck reminded me of…well, me. I was a cheerleader who learned to tumble in high school and credit cheerleading with saving my life- literally (that’s another blog!). Could it be that I was somehow living through her?
Never a competitive mom, I always encouraged Paris to have fun and do her best. Yet I wonder, had she been doing gymnastics for me? Was she afraid I would think she was a quitter if she left? Was she spending her free time in a sport we chose for her because she didn’t want to let me down? Rarely complaining, going through the motions day after day, year after year, Paris continued on…until I opened the door to her cage and released her.
This experience has taught me a lot. It’s so important to stop and evaluate life and to have the courage to change direction when the current one stops working. Failure to do so will slowly steal your girl- the one who is inspired, happy and joyful.
What do you need to change in your own life? What about the lives of your children? While change is never easy, the truth is- you can’t grow by remaining what you are. Rather than be afraid of what you might lose, get inspired by what you just might gain.
Written by Traci Bild- Author, Speaker & Entrepreneur. Get a FREE Get Your Girl Back Dream Journal and spend some time off-line filling the pages with the images of what you hope to do in your relationship or marriage in the next year or decade! Go to www.GYGB.com for an instant download.
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