Wednesday, July 6, 2011

L Is for Lily

Diving, continued. To read the first post on Lily’s summer diving experience, click here.
I may have learned more this summer about parenting than I have in the last few years.
Lily continues to amaze me. After conquering her inward dive, she moved on to the reverse (a gainer). Somehow, her body just won’t conform to the laws of physics needed to complete this dive. She has practiced and practiced—hours in our pool and hours at diving, fighting with it. Her biggest issue? She couldn’t compete in the last meet if she didn’t have a reverse dive on her list of dives. And she wanted to compete.
I spent hours with her in our pool, offering encouragement and very little substance, to no avail. When she went to practice the morning of meet day, she had her game face on. Neglecting the other three dives she’d be competing, she repeatedly threw herself up into the air, attempting to rotate and enter the water hands first.
She never did. I was heartbroken for her, in a way mothers can only be for their children. What was she going to do that night? I watched her coach take her aside and talk with her. He wisely counseled her that sometimes you just have to step back after you’ve given something your best effort, and stop for a while. He told her she shouldn’t be embarrassed. I told her maybe next summer.
My admiration for her tenacity went up markedly as we tearfully discussed her options on the way home from practice. Most of the other girls on her team weren’t even attending the meet that night because of this cursed dive. Lily spat the words, “That’s so chicken, just to quit because something’s hard.” Her solution to the dilemma was to still go to the meet, attempt the dive, knowing she couldn’t complete it, take zero points for an incomplete dive, looking that demon straight in the eye and telling him, “You may have won this time, but I won’t quit. No matter what.”
Her resolve was unwavering. We got to the pool, and she warmed up, never even trying the reverse even though it was first on her list. I sat there, holding my breath as she approached the board, and without hesitation jumped, threw herself in the air, and promptly landed on her back, just as she had every attempt before. She swam to the side of the pool with her head held high, no shame in her failure, just resigned at her attempt. At least the demon had been faced and squarely told to go to hell.


Two good dives and one great inward off the high board later, we were waiting as they read the final standings. “In ninth place . . .” “In fifth place . . .” “In fourth place . . .” With the absence of her name each time, her excitement grew. Was this even possible?

“In second place, Lily Denton.”

I will never ever ever forget the look on her face as she was handed that ribbon, her squeals of excitement, the smell of genuine triumph in the air. Her best had been good enough.

Lily’s coach asked me before the meet how Lily was doing, and I honestly told him that she was struggling, but she was determined to try, even if she failed. I could see the admiration in his face when he said, “That stubborn, that tenacity, that fight to be the best? That can’t be taught. And she has it.” I can’t wait to see where that fight will take her in life.

I so often fall into the trap that I’m the mom and I need to teach my kids this or show them that. That since I'm the mom, Mom knows best. Little do they know--often we know less than they. I wish I still had that fight, that tenacity to look something in the eye and win or lose, give it my all. As a spectator of this epic battle—the battle we each fight to beat that lurking demon telling us to quit—I know I will never parent the same. And maybe, just maybe, I will tell him to go to hell myself someday very soon.

Linking up to L at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.

Jenny Matlock

30 comments:

  1. Jen, This was a wonderful post. What a trooper you have there. Coach is right, that kind of resolve is hard to teach. She is a great example for all of us.
    Thanks Lily,
    As sometimes even as adults we quit before we've tried. I will think of you and your dive the next time I decide it just isn't worth it to try.
    Dana

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  2. Save this post for your Lily. I have a Lily too - the same name, the same sort of tenacity. I am often awed by it.

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  3. Lily is amazing! She exemplifies they saying "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

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  4. I love it when my kids teach me things. . .I think like you said, they could teach me more if I stepped back and let them. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. That is freaking fantastic! I'm so proud of her. And you're right, that tenacity can NOT be taught. Wish I had even a FRACTION of that fight.

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  6. What a great reminder that our best, although not perfect, can be good enough. I may include this in a lesson, sometime if that's ok :)

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  7. Children are humbling in their battles. What a fabulous example to us all. Awesome job Lily.

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  8. I think your use of epic in this post was appropriate. Ha. Great work, Lily!

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  9. I wish I were more like that. Good for her! And good for you!

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  10. I really enjoyed reading this, it was beautifully expressed.

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  11. I'm so proud of Lily! The coach is right - you can't teach that, You either have it or you don't. And why do you think you don't? You have it in spades.

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  12. Way to go Lily! Goon on ya for not giving up and for taking second place. You're awesome a great example to us all.
    Jen: It's times like these when you see the fruits of your labor grow into mature, strong and courageous kids and you know you're doing something right. Good on ya.

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  13. This made me cry.

    Tell Lily I think she rocks.

    =)

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  14. Jen, your daughter is officially my hero ... I am in total awe of her. And I'm so happy that her story had a happy ending, but it's incredible that she was willing to tackle it head on even thinking there might not be.

    AMAZING!

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  15. She is just like her MOM! And she rules the world.

    Love that girl!

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  16. Thank you, Lily! Truly inspirational!

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  17. Wow. Tell Lily how incredible I think she is. Seriously, how many of us actually have the courage to try, knowing you were going to fail in front of everyone anyway? And she ended up not failing with a 2nd place! Definitely something I need to work on in my life. Trying the hard things I'll probably fail at, but trying them anyway.

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  18. she's not only courageous, she's smart! Congrats. Lily! {:-D

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  19. Aw...Way to go Lily! We have a Lily too! I hope she has the same grit as your lovely Lily!~Ames

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  20. What an amazing story! Lily, you are a rock star! There is a great lesson here for all of us.

    Mom, you rock, too! Lily knew you had her back!

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  21. Go Jane! I love that girl.

    And Mom is right, one day, she really is going to rule the world. She's already pretty close.

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  22. Great job Lily!!!!!

    Jen - this is a great post. I couldn't have said it better.

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  23. Great photos -- and CONGRATS to Lily! :)

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  24. Wow, I am thoroughly impressed by Lily and her incredible courage to face her own demons. She is an amazing girl and you should be very proud that you raised such a courageous girl! She's not my daughter but I feel proud that she gave it her all and stuck by her decision until the very end.

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  25. she is doing great.
    wow. way to go, lily.

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  26. Jen, this post gave me goosebumps. What a neat kid! I admire her courage!

    This was such a lovely and uplifting post.

    Bless you for sharing it this week.

    A=

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