I watch her spin and turn like a beautiful, diminutive jewellery box dancer, her hair drawn up tightly in the plaited bun that I had so quickly fashioned before we left early on a bright Saturday morning. I try to capture her on the screen I hold up to the glass (for the benefit of Husband who is doing rink duty at another venue later on this day), and finding that inadequate for my venture, reach up further in between the netting to manoeuvre an angle. In trying to find the perfect vantage point, I am disappointed to see that I have missed her sit-spin. Boo. My arm is cranked at a weird angle, but this is a mother’s work: to film her baby. And to do so ‘at.all.costs’ (to her physical comfort). I train my eyes so as to not miss another thing. Daughter is my sole focus of attention. I am all eyes for her.
Later, we await results. She informs me that she has done better this year, saying it with a confident grin- a lilt in her voice. She is so eager to get her ribbon that she bounces. I watch her chat and kid with the other skaters, not a care in the world.
Then the moment arrives. Her name is called and she is the first in her group to come forward. I continue to monitor her face for any sign of disappointment. For now, all appears well. But she has not yet had time to process and compare- to find her standing. Somehow, things change when we measure ourselves up alongside others. At least that has been my experience.
She soon takes her seat. Hands the paper over to me. And I continue to watch and wait. In time, when all the results are in, I will know better what to expect.
And then it happens.
In finding out that she has not exceeded her own highly set expectations for herself, as well as not matched those of her cohort of fellow skaters, all comes quickly crashing to the ground. I watch her fight to hold back tears as she receives the full impact of her report. Watch intently as she compares results with the others. I feel it in me- that disappointment and loss. For loss, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant it might be in the scheme of life, is still loss.
It is still a small blow to the ego.
Later, we talk over lunch. She and I, pondering life from across a coffee shop table. I order her a blueberry muffin for dessert, hoping it will cheer her up, and all the while, I try to find the right words to tell her that she is still amazing in my books. Try to find words that will affirm how well she has done. Try to help her see. I want so badly for her to be proud of herself- not just when she is a gold, but when she is also a bronze or a merit as well. And above all, I want her to never give up no matter what the results. Want her to stay the course. Want her to never measure her worth against a piece of paper.
I listen to my heart and let it do the talking, while the mama voice inside of me insists that it still wants to make everything that feels wrong- somehow become right. Even though everything inside me just wants to gather her up in my arms and shout out to the world just how golden she is in my eyes. Just how precious she is to me. Just how much I believe in her potential. In the messy process, I somehow find the words to say. Find the right words. And I choose those words carefully- making the most of this opportunity so that she can truly see that there is always something to be proud of, always something to learn, and always something to strive for just ahead- out of reach, just out of immediate grasp. It’s there.
Even when life hands you a paper that shouts out ‘average‘.
I want her to know: an average performance or routine, while always good enough for this Mama, is no statement about who she is. Besides, average can be enough period, if we let it. In fact, it’s better than enough. Every experience can be memorable for the right reasons- if we purpose it to be so. For in remembering both the times we’ve failed, as well as the times we’ve succeeded, we learn something new about ourselves, about our life. And the beauty of remembering is that there is always something to take-away from the memories of both experiences, no matter how humbling the former can be. There is always something to use for our benefit, no matter how much that experience might bruise the pride or wound the ego.
There is always something good to be had if we are willing to reach for it.
As I watch my daughter’s face, I know in my heart that we all can’t be winners. Can’t all take away the prize each and every time. Someone has to be first- and someone always has to be last as well. It’s the way things go- it’s the fact of the matter. That’s life. And when finding our place on the losing end, it is tempting to believe that losing is bad, tempting somehow to convince ourselves that losing is shameful and disappointing. It is tempting to fall privy to the belief that ‘not winning’ too is blameworthy somehow, so easy to fall into that line of thinking that asserts: we who have lost are somehow no longer adequate because of our rank and file. Because of our place value and status.
But of course, there is no failing in trying. No loss in second, third or even last place when one has given their best. No shame in being average, for after all, average is quite beautiful, quite normal and quite honestly what most of us are characterized by on any given day- days that are stormy as well as days when the sun is shining and life is beautiful.
Average is enough.
We can celebrate each moment and make it into something bigger and brighter and more beautiful than it was meant to be, or we can believe that failure is a sign of inadequacy. I choose to hope against hope that there is always tomorrow, there is always another opportunity. There is always another chance to say ‘yes’ again and give life another go.
And if that is what average looks like on a good day, I’ll take it.
I watch her throughout the day- mama bear protective. And when second and third results come up later on in the afternoon, I wonder how she will feel. And then to see the accepting, content look on her face when she places middle of the pack is priceless. In fact, it’s golden.
For this mama, that’s the moment her star shone the brightest today.