To Potential and Beyond
I wanted to be strong for them, because that's what Moms do. I wanted to seem as though I could face my own fear and laugh in it's face. I wanted to seem indomitable and determined and really, really badass.
But I wasn't feeling very badass. I was feeling like I wanted my Mommy. I wanted her to tell me that she knew I could do it and be really awesome, but it was okay if I decided not to; that she would still love me and be proud of me.
So that's what I told my sons. You can DO this. And no matter the outcome, I love you, and I'm proud of you.
Pubescent One took his driver's test. He was terrified. Not of driving; of failing.
Diminutive One participated in his first sparring tournament. He was terrified. Not of sparring; of losing.
They have, despite all my efforts to prevent it, inherited my tendencies towards perfectionism and fear of failure. Because of that I knew that I absolutely positively could not NOT face my own fear. No matter how badly I wanted to call off my class and say something like..."The timing just isn't right" or, "I need more practice" or, "I've realized this isn't really my thing"...I HAD to do it. Not only for myself, but for them.
It wasn't success I wanted them to witness, but trying. Trying, even though I knew full well I was going to make mistakes.
If I had a magic Mom wand that I could blythely wave and grant my children anything...I would grant them freedom from the fear of making mistakes. Unless you have such a fear, you can't really imagine what a handicap it can be in life.
Do you know how many times I heard "failing to live up to her potential" when I was a child and a teenager? I never understood that. But I understand it now that I'm able to examine myself with a grown up eyes and a grown up mentality and be realistic about what I see. I never lived up to my potential because I never tried anything unless I was absolutely certain I could do it, do it flawlessly and be the absolute best at it. That seriously lowers one's odds of success.
I find that somewhat tragic, to be honest. What could I have done and been and accomplished if only I hadn't been so afraid? I really, really hate it when people say they have no regrets because every choice they made has led them to where they are and made them who they are....blah, blah, blah...horseshit. Everybody has regrets. Not regretting doesn't make you a self actualized and wise person. I think you build a lot more character by acknowledging your regrets and then using them to kick yourself in the ass really hard.
So, determined not to stand in my own way yet again, I did it. I held my first class. And you know what? It was a NIGHTMARE.
I had a great turnout; friends, family, weight watchers acquaintances, fellow Zumba instructors. They all came out to support me. And I was determined to give them a good show. And most likely, if it had been entirely in my hands, I would have. But sometimes, life wrests control away from you and gives you a choice only in how you deal with the ensuing disaster.
The surround sound system in the studio malfunctioned, but unfortunately, I didn't realize it until well into my warm-up. I had never turned it on to practice you see; only using the two front speakers, since it was just me alone in the studio. So we never realized the back speakers were disfunctional until, as I said, my class was well underway. Suddenly, the music just dropped away and entire stanzas became nothing more than muffled murmurs. I couldn't hear my cues and at certain points, I was basically just guessing, improvising, and totally winging it. I wanted to cry. But I couldn't. I was screwing up big time, but I had to prove to myself that I could go on.
So I finished the hour long class. And believe me when I tell you it was one of the longest hours of my entire life.
One delicious man, who is the husband of an instructor friend who came to support me, actually sang the lyrics to me at one point, to help me keep pace. His off key warbling lent some comic relief to the situation, which was badly needed. I could have kissed him for his kindness. Afterward, people told me they enjoyed it and I believe that they there sincere.
And then I felt as if I could breathe again. I did it. I didn't worm my way out of it and I didn't quit when things were going wrong. For once in my life, I did not stand in my own way.
I was really proud, but I was prouder still two days later when my Pubescent One handed me a Mother's Day card in which he had written how proud he was of what I had done, and how I had stuck to my plan and accomplished the goal that I set for myself. See...that's the nice thing about having older kids; when they get it, they can tell you so. It made me cry, that knowledge.
And I was proud again this past weekend, when Diminutive One, lacking an opponent in his weight class, was given the opportunity to get a medal without fighting. His other option was to fight a kid much bigger and of a higher rank than he (he is a senior brown, his would-be opponent was red). Diminutive One stated that he had come to compete and he wasn't going to take a medal without a fight.
He knew he was going to get his ass handed to him. He had been warned by his Master that he would, this being his first sparring tournament. So he was expecting that part. But even though he had watched his opponent's previous fight, during which another kid forfeited the match after one blow, he didn't really expect to get kicked so hard in the head that he went to the floor.
The medic checked his pupils, asked him what year it was, along with a couple other questions, and then asked him if he wanted to go back in. Diminutive One didn't hesitate. He got back in the ring and he finished the fight. He lost. But he never gave up. He kept fighting.
I like to think I had a little something to do with that.
Pubescent One passed his driving test with a 93. Diminutive One took second place.
And we all learned that by God...we can DO it. If only we don't stand in our own way.
I hope they've also learned that making a mistake isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person. I hope they will be less afraid to reach for things that I wouldn't and couldn't. I hope they never fear losing as much as they fear not trying.
And screw potential. I don't want them to live up to their potential. No sir. I want them to soar past it; to be more and better and stronger than they ever thought they could be or would be.
Maybe now they can.
And maybe in this one small way, as a Mother and a role model...I finally lived up to my potential.