For the past several days, I’ve experienced some strange symptoms. Heart thumping erratically. Shallow breathing. Feeling anxious. Yesterday, the symptoms grew more severe as the morning progressed. I couldn’t concentrate on my writing. My stomach was upset, my knees were weak, and if somebody looked closely, they could probably tell that my hands were shaking.
My symptoms peaked, then almost instantly dissipated at 10:36 a.m., as I watched my son and his buddy walking slowly from the high school soccer practice fields. I squinted my eyes, trying to make out the features of his face. He was talking to his friend in his usual animated way, and smiling. I immediately felt the knot in my stomach begin to loosen. As he approached my waiting van, he caught my eye and his grin grew wider. He swung open the door and said, “I made the team!”
FINALLY! I could breathe again.
My son is about to enter his freshman year of high school, and we just experienced high school soccer tryouts. I say “we” even though I’m certain my son had no idea that every single day of those tryouts I was out there on the field with him. I’m always on the field with him.
I’m sure many parents can relate to what I’m saying here, right? We’re on the field, or the court, or the stage with them—our kids.
My daughter has run with the high school cross country team for the past three years. When she (& the other runners) would pass me by at meets, I would clap loudly and shout encouraging words. As I watched their faces reflecting the extreme difficulty of the course, I’d literally have to suppress a ridiculous, almost overwhelming, urge to cry over how hard they were struggling, pushing themselves to run faster. Run harder.
I suspect (hope?!) I’m not alone in this strange phenomenon of “empathy parenting.” It’s not that we’re living vicariously through our children. It’s just that we…care so much. I know that whatever happens, whether they make the team or not, whether they come in first place or last, whether they screw up their lines or not, it’s what’s meant to be. They will have positive and negative experiences throughout their lives. And when bad stuff happens, they’ll eventually get over it. Learn from it. Move on. But when I’m in the moment… Heck, what can I say?
As much as my logical mind knows it’s ridiculous to become so caught up in their stuff, I can’t seem to stop it. All I know is, when they’re out there, I’m out there. But I guess if a parent can’t be their child’s biggest cheerleader, who can, right?