Truth be told, I probably hugged him a few seconds too long. I squeezed harder than I needed to. I almost didn't let go. Truth be told, I've known this day was coming for 18 years, and despite all that, I had a few moments this week where I had to catch my breath and fight back a lump in my throat.
And do you want to know the most ridiculous part? My son got on a plane this morning for a ten day trip. YEP, that's it. Ten whopping days. It isn't that he's graduated from high school and is moving on. In fact, he's heading into his senior year this Fall. So, why all the unnecessary emotion, you may ask? That is an excellent question, which I have been pondering quite a bit myself this week.
He took off to the East Coast for a few days with his best friend to go chase down his dream. That same dream he's been visualizing since age six when he first laid his hands on a basketball and his dad took the time to teach him how to shoot it properly.
"Fingertips. Wrinkle wrist. Cookie jar," his dad would say.
"Keep the ball on the tips of your fingers, then flex your wrist back so you can see your wrist wrinkle and then, when you're ready, release the ball so that when you finish your shot, it looks like you are reaching up into a cookie jar."
The answer to my admittedly trivial, inner struggle about my emotions which really aren't relevant for about another 12 months, came to light with some coaching I did with the mother of one of my teen athlete clients this week. Often times, it's much easier to have clarity around how to handle an issue when we see someone else's struggle, than it is to shine a light onto our own darkness.
Here's what she shared.
Let's call her Jill. Jill is exasperated with her 17-year old son's perceived lack of ambition and drive in the sport he claims he has a passion for, lacrosse. She and her husband strive to be supportive of his dreams and goals, which he tells them is to play Division I Lacrosse, but what she doesn't see is him taking consistent action in alignment with that stated goal. I.e., in the weeks following the end of the season, she saw a malaise set in. He wasn't working out, he wasn't training. He just kind of shut down.
With college admissions less than a year away and knowing the window for recruiting is closing, she reached out to me and asked for help. While he is ranked as one of the top players in the state, he's not getting "the looks", much less the offers he says he desires. The schools are coming to watch him and they say he has "all the tools", but nothing's happening.
So what's going on? Here are the questions I'm pondering...
Did his dream shift over time? If it was his dream at six years old, does he still have to hold onto that dream at 17?
What happens when fear of "not enough-ness" sets in as he sees those who were late bloomers really start to come into their own?
What about when the coach starts to lose faith in him because he has a bad game? Which leads to another poor performance, which leads to lagging confidence and a continuing downward spiral in both his mental and physical game.
What if he can't bring himself to tell his parents that this isn't his dream any more? What if his greatest fear is disappointing them by not getting an offer?
He feels stuck and a bit overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do.
His parents feel helpless (and frustrated) and while they truly want to help their son, they are also realizing the "hand off" is coming. That day when it's up to him, he needs to take the baton and run. The realization is that he needs to be driving the decisions he makes around his sport and how he decides to "show up" or not. If he is willing to do the work or not. And how he will pivot and grow from these decisions.
Susie and I discussed this exact topic on this week's #RaisingAthletes podcast. Out of no ill will of course, we parents often get over-involved in our kids lives, which can, over time, erode their confidence and belief in their own abilities. It's very tough to be able to balance the "just letting go" and allow them to figure things out on their own with helping them navigate the athletic, academic and social waters while they are still teenagers, working on closing their frontal lobes and living at home with you.
So as I pulled away from LAX this morning, it occurred to me, that this is part of the process of preparing both CJ and me for "the hand-off."
We're not there yet, but it's racing towards us.
As I write this, I just received a text with a very rare selfie included(!)
All is well.
The eagle has landed.
It's time to play ball! I'm slowly letting go.
If you are raising an athlete, I'm guessing at one time or another, your child has struggled with confidence or a clear understanding of their ability or perhaps a shift in their goals.
In our three kids, we've watched soccer and swimming and gymnastics and come and go from their lives. Sometimes we get to finish a sport on our own terms and other times, it's taken away from us. My goal is to support parents in helping their kids discover that there are huge gems of growth and evolution buried in weeds of exploration.
This Week on the #RaisingAthletes Podcast:
Tips for Raising An Intrinsically Driven Athlete
This week on the #RaisingAthletes Podcast, Kirsten & Susie break down the inner game of the intrinsically motivated athlete. How do we support our athletes to be internally motivated kids? We discuss some practical tips to help you do this every day with your athlete (both on and off the field).
For those parents out there who are #RaisingAthletes and are enjoying our podcast, we'd be so flattered if you would go onto ITunes, give us some feedback and please feel free to share the love.
Imagine a world where every kid (and parent) meditated for 20 minutes before they took the field. What would change?
Creating Peak Performance in Biz & Life
I was thrilled to have been a guest on fellow entrepreneur, Kathy Haan's podcast, Turning Coaches into Millionaires. We had fun exploring what peak performance means and how to get some in your biz & life! Check us out...