You asked me tonight how I would feel if you quit gymnastics.
It felt like someone punched me in the gut, but without missing a beat I responded, “Good!”
“But not until after state.”
“And just so you know, you won’t be sitting around snuggling with dogs all day. You’ll have to pick another sport.”
You think maybe volleyball (you’ve mentioned it more than once) and of course you have basketball season coming up …. “And maybe you could learn to play tennis!”
I never wanted you to go to the Olympics. Unless you wanted to of course. I don’t want you to be broken and hurting like you’ve been. Something is not right with your body and the continual pounding is just not ideal.
Tonight driving you home from gymnastics I mentioned how much time I spend in the car driving you kids to and from your sports. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”, you asked.
“Well, I can think of more fun things to do, but as long as you’re happy I guess.”
Truth is, I’d love more family dinners. I’d love for you to get to bed on time and actually sleep.
You were in the tub when you asked me this question. Your newest ritual after practice- epsom salt bath before your shower. Ever since you’ve been doing this you leave your leotard on the floor and the empty epsom salt bags near the tub that you often forget to drain. I pointed to your rice bowl and glass and asked you to clean all this up before you go to bed. You answered as you often do. “I will.”
I wonder if your brain will work better without this schedule. 9 hours a week is really 10 by the time we add the drive time, and 12 by the time you do all the PT….. when you actually DO the PT. And that’s not including meets. The $328.50 we pay a month is no match for the PT and future doctor bills from the abuse your body has already endured.
So why am I so sick to my stomach?
I’ve reminded myself over the last 2 years, 1000 times, “This is not about me.”
But the truth is, I have so loved watching you shine. I’ve enjoyed watching you struggle less, but I always knew it was GOOD for you. The lessons you have learned from this sport are immeasurably important. And you’ve learned more from the struggles than the victories.
You have learned to perform under pressure. You put yourself out there repeatedly to be judged.
You’ve risen to the occasion.
You’ve been crushed, defeated, and distraught, all while on a stage, to be judged, with an audience.
You’ve mastered skills and pushed your body to its limit.
You’ve fallen hard, ripped your hands, and split the beam.
You’ve repeated the same moves over and over and over again to perfect every detail of it.
You’ve worked so hard. Often while tired. Sometimes while exhausted.
You’ve made friends and giggled and cheered on your teammates.
You’ve had fun.
You’ve had a LOT of fun.
You’ve cried real tears, many times.
You’ve squealed with delight at the astonishment of learning a new skill.
You’ve been ashamed and proud and amazed, sometimes in the same 3 hour practice.
You’ve gotten back up so many times. Often, it was more a bounce back up off the ground.
You’ve been so mad at yourself, your coaches, at that beam…. and you’ve loved each as well.
You’ve endured chiropractic adjustments, Rolfing, needling, MAT, Blood Restriction Training, taping, PT and many levels of pain.
I remember the day you were crying in my arms at practice, “Mom, I can’t continue to hurt like this. I don’t remember the last time I vaulted and it didn’t hurt.”
And yet, you wanted to be out there. You’ve tried for a year and it’s just not working.
This is not quitting. This is making a good decision.
I’m going to miss watching you fly. I feel like we will need to grieve the loss of something that was so much a part of who we were for quite some time.
You were a gymnast.
I was (and will always be) your biggest fan.
You were a gymnast. I was too. We will always have that in common.
I hope you never forget all this sport has taught you. You are a much stronger version of who you would have been without it. This I know.
Thank you for letting me be a part of something special. Thank you for loving it as long as you did. Thank you for working so hard and making us so proud. I know you will continue to do so, in whatever you decide to do next.
I love you baby girl. 💖