Monday, November 12, 2012

The Flip-Side

  I grew up a gymnast.  Not to be confused with, "When I grew up, I did gymnastics."  Because that might falsely lead someone to believe that there was more to my identity than flipping and sticking.
     Yes, I dabbled with other sports.  And I was actually quite good.  I was the lead-off hitter for my summer softball team, and even executed a triple play in the field on one occasion.  I was also the starting setter for my high school volleyball team that was one game away from State Championships my senior year.
     But all that was peripheral.  Even though I loved it, I couldn't play softball for my high school because it conflicted with competitive gymnastics season.  And volleyball only worked because it was an off-season sport, and I was willing to play it in addition to gymnastics.  By the end of each volleyball season, my back was a mess from overuse.  So much so that I squatted at the knees to pick up the ball before I served, because it was too painful to bend over.
     Friends didn't invite me to their homes after school during the week, because they knew I'd be at the gym.  While everyone else slept in, I woke to an alarm at weekend sleepovers to make it to practice on time.  The only acceptable excuse for missing practice was if I was puking.  Because broken bones could be taped up.
     There was no quitting.  Believe me, I tried when I was 13.  I wanted to be done.  I was over it.  My mom wouldn't take no for an answer.  My coach wouldn't take no for an answer.  My community wouldn't take no for an answer.  Why?  Because I was a gymnast.
     I trained on a beam that was four inches wide, yet there was no balance in my life.  This irony made me angry after my body finally broke down to end my career in college.  I dwelled on what I missed because of the sport.  I was resentful of all that time wasted in the gym.  I felt as though I had nothing to show for it.
     Eventually, though, I realized I was wrong.  I traded in my bitterness for gratitude because I was able to see the flip-side (no pun intended.)  As a result of my unbalanced past, I now make balance a priority in our home.
     We say no to invitations when we're in need of quiet family time.  We keep our schedule flexible so that we have time for spontaneous fun.  We expect the kids to live up to their academic potential, but don't insist on perfection.  To honor their hard work, we allow them free time that is just that: free.  The kids help determine their sporting schedules, and I factor in ease and convenience when deciding on locations.  When a previous coach of Gabe’s “motivated” his players by screaming negative insults, we yanked him from the team.  Because it doesn't have to be all or nothing, and I wanted my son to learn early that it is healthy to walk away from behavior like that.
     We often refer to ourselves as Team Myers.  Because we all live together, and we all matter.  There has to be give and take, compromise and sacrifice.  Gabe is currently troubled because he has to start choosing between all the sports that he loves.  Because it's not fair to the rest of us when his overabundant athletic schedule dictates our lives.  Sydney and Taylor opted out of soccer this year, which burst their daddy's bubble as he was all set to coach them.  They tried volleyball instead and fell in love.  Now when the weather is nice, we all go outside and play family volleyball.  The kids are thrilled with their father's over exaggerated lack of skills, giggling together and coaching him the whole time.  Craig admits that he's enjoying this time with the girls even more than if they'd played soccer.
     As for me?  I grew up a gymnast terrified to fall off the beam.  As a result, I parent with balance and flexibility.  And I've got a happy family to show for it.    

1 comment:

ZFam said...

Great perspective, Kristin...