Sometimes she curls up next to me, and it takes my breath away. She’s teetering at the breaking point between child and young lady, so when the little girl side of her nestles close, I try to breath it all in and hold it tight.
These moments won’t last much longer.
Truthfully, I find the process of watching my children grow up something marvelous. I love seeing the maturity set in as their faces lengthen. When the youthful freckles fade away, they’re replaced by something else entirely: Young people who can engage in witty banter, who are looking to make their marks on this great, big world, and who will develop in character of mind continually as the years move forward.
Recently, this daughter of mine experienced a great accomplishment. She stood at the top of the podium at the end of her gymnastics meet, and with a grin that split wide her face, she clutched the trophy that labeled her the State Champion.
In the days following her meet, I watched her float around on that euphoric cloud that accompanies a great moment in time. She was proud of herself, and I gave her a few days to relish in that pride. But there came a time when I knew she needed to hear truth.
She and I sat on her bed late at night, after the rest of the house was still, and I asked her what she was thinking. “How are you feeling now that it’s all over?” I asked. She rolled over on her back and stared at the ceiling for a few moments before answering.
“I don’t know,” she finally replied. “I don’t really feel anything anymore.”
The cloud always drifts back to earth. This was the moment I was waiting for – the moment when a lesson of life could be weaved into the fabric of her heart.
“You know,” I said, pushing myself up on my elbow. “Winning the state championship is a big deal, and it’s okay to feel proud of that, but at the end of the day, don’t ever forget that you’re more than a gymnast.”
She looked at me with her big blue eyes all framed in with dark lashes, and she waited.
“I’m more proud of you for your determination and hard work than I am of your trophy,” I continued. “Because when this is all said and done, and gymnastics is behind you, those are the things that will stay with you.”
I tucked her in that night, then sat down on the couch and thought through my heart’s desire for my children. It’s easy as mom to get caught up in the glamour of their skills. If I don’t constantly keep myself in check, I’m bound to find pride in their abilities rather than in their character.
So I constantly remind myself of the same truths I remind them: Character is what lasts.
My daughter is a good gymnast, but she’s more than that, too. Gymnastics is a small piece of who she is, and it will encompass only a very short time of her life. As her mom, it’s my job to make sure she sees the bigger picture of who she was created to be.
I want her to know that she is funny and kind, smart, compassionate, hard-working, and observant. Those are the qualities that will take her through life, and it is those qualities I celebrate far above any medal or trophy.
All of us can point to the extraordinary gifts in our children and, if we’re honest, we could all admit we get caught up in their talents from time to time. But if we can dig past the euphoria of their outward successes, we’ll see that the inward nature of their hearts are what matter above all else.
So we constantly push ourselves to see them for who they can be, not who they are today, and while we immerse them in those areas where they’re skilled, we constantly remind them of the truth that paves the future: You, dear child, are more than the sum of your talents.