The season of competitive volleyball has officially ended. Only sports camps, vacation, and leisurely landscaping dot my calendar, and summer is here. Cue the celebration music. Time to tone down the expensive hotel stays, long road trips across Indiana farmland, early morning cranky teens, and the one tired mother Uber fueled by caffeine. It has ended, and my arms are open for hugs, and my ears are inclined to hear a “thank you, mom-you are the best.” But this is not what I hear. What I hear is a “mom, I need a break from you.” What?! A break from who?! “Yes, mom, I need a break from you.” No prelude to this bold statement. No follow-up of encouraging words that provide context.
Now my first reaction was probably not my best reaction. But is it ever? I’ve missed days from work, transported, encouraged, cheered, and even cried alongside my baby. But yet she needs a break from me? “Oh honey, you have no idea (I boldly declare)-this mama needs a break from YOU!”. Okay, so maybe it should not have come out that way. And maybe this was just a glimpse of what we had both been feeling for quite some time. Was I really that overbearing during the season? Possibly I guess. See, here’s the thing. When you are raised with minimal resources and your adult life seems to yield much more fruit, as a mother, you may feel obligated to invest generously into your child’s here and now as well as their future. And with sports, there is this overarching belief that the investment is a here and now as well as a forever and ever amen. But it sure does hurt to hear your child needs a break after a $3000 investment into her here and now as well as what you think could be an invaluable puzzle piece to their future. I want a thank you. I want a “mom, you are the best.” What I do not want is for you to tell me that you need a break from me.
Although, when I stop to listen to my heart, I realize that said child has voiced exactly what I am thinking. I need a break from you!
I can finally step out of overdrive and acknowledge that we need a break from each other. Our identity has been defined by tournaments, team huddles, long drives, and coaching woes. Each emotional rollercoaster has been one we’ve ridden together. Months of unpredictable referee calls and team snack bags that may not contain one single item said child feels is worth consumption. So now we need a break. We need a break to redefine who we are as individual people. We need time to jump back into that girlfriend time. Our friends have been placed on “waitlist” status. We’ve brought home gold but desperately need the pieces to our souls fulfilled by other avenues outside of each other and volleyball. I get that. I, too, need that. She needs to redefine who she is outside of volleyball. And I need to define my self-worth outside of my children. Toward the end of the season, I couldn’t deny the inner whispers of the “what ifs” when looking into the next season. What if she didn’t make the elite team? What if she gets injured? With this attitude, will she live up to her greatest potential? What can I do differently as a mother to seal this potential scholarship? And these thoughts are utterly exhausting. This bold statement from my daughter reaffirms my need to work against living through them and work toward letting them create their own personal statement that defines all they are and not all that I am not as a mother. Though the statement from my daughter was abrasive. It definitely held no falsification. We needed a break.
Summer has arrived. She is living her best life testing her chef skills, laughing with old friends, and celebrating all that has been missed. I like to “one-up” even when it comes to my children. The competitive gene trait is shared throughout the family. I am enjoying my solo “break” viewing the Pacific Ocean and basking in the memories of a great season that I was able to officially conclude with a well-deserved “break” to San Diego. I am enjoying a break I did not realize I needed. I am thankful for this baby girl of mine that boldly declared that she (we) needed a break. Cheers to you my mama friends from the Bayside in California. Encouraging you to grab some wine this summer and take a break.