To My Kids: Remember How To Play
You told me it would be a day you would remember forever. One of the top moments of your life. I hope you do darling. I hope you do. I know I will. It had all the makings of a fantastical sports movie laid out before you and your team. Tied. With less than five minutes to play in the game. A win would guarantee a trip to the Semi-finals. A loss would mean packing our bags and going home.
Your team lines up next to the soccer net preparing for a goal kick. Your teammate launches the ball, perfectly spinning toward your team. Suddenly, there is a connection. A head taps the ball into the goal. Your head! A score! THE GAME WINNING GOAL! Your team erupts in victory, advancing to the semi-finals. It was magic to watch. The entire scene was over in less than four seconds. Thank God a mother better than I has the entire thing on video.
But while everyone is screaming your name and I’m crying tears of joy, as the frenzy settles over the field, I can’t help but remember another day, another game. Your tears as they spilled down your face, defeated because of a final number posted on a scoreboard. There was talk of a mistake you made, a score you “allowed” to happen. A loss that some might have said was your fault. In that moment there was no joy, no happiness only sadness and pain. It was so hard to be your mother in that moment. There was no remedy I could give you to remove your pain.
My child, when you win and when you lose there are things to be learned. Often times more is learned for a loss than from the thrill of victory. It is also the hardest to live with.
The world seeks winners out, it is more fun to be surrounded by confetti and trophies than by grief and tears. But remember Heroes, true heroes, are not found on stadium fields. They are found in homes and churches and community centers where a video camera is likely never to go. They receive no trophies and there is hardly ever confetti.
When the world cheers for your victories, your goals scored, your achievements made, don’t forget the struggles that hurt before the accolades came.
If you suddenly find yourself surrounded by new friends, don’t forget the old ones.
When that voice inside your head screams “You are invincible”, remind yourself it was your strength who fought against the voice that says “you are nothing”.
The sting of defeat is always stronger than the thrill of victory. It’s what we choose to highlight that we remember most.
My darling child, it was so amazing being your mom in that winning moment. But no more than it is every day you bring home good grades, showoff your gracious heart or the tenacity you display when you need the strength to tackle something hard. It isn’t the game that makes you a winner, it’s how you choose to play it. It’s the same gig for the game of soccer and of life. Remember how to play. Why and how of loving the game, whatever the game.
While the world on that soccer field only saw victory, your dad and I get to the biggest blessing of all. We’ve seen you defeated and you’ve looked failure in the eye and decided to keep going. Some may say it is just a game, but you’re mastering how to play and that is what makes all the difference. Thanks for giving me the reminder.