Sigh. I think the hardest thing about being a parent is there's no darn crystal ball. There's no instruction manual. There's no FAQ's. No help desk. No troubleshooting matrix. Nothing. We can Google and read books and ask for advice... but at the end of the day, it all comes down to gritting your teeth, making a decision and hoping it was the right one.


I've been struggling a bit all spring with how to support my oldest child in her endeavors. She competes in a sport at an advanced level. It's a commitment that requires a great deal of time, money and support. It was her idea. She worked hard to get to this point and we agreed to support her for as long as she wants it and as long as she is willing to continue working hard for it.

And then something happened.

Competition season began and my child morphed into this kid who became so nervous and anxious about competing she began regressing in her sport. Rapidly.

And I was not prepared. I was so not prepared.

My fear all along has been that she will feel some sort of pressure from her parents to be the best. Though, we have told her numerous times that we don't require her to win.... that we're proud no matter how the competition stacks up. But we do require her to work hard and do her best. The time and money we're spending on her dream is too great to be wasted and unappreciated. And she has continued to work hard.

But slowly, over the past three or four months, she has wilted from this child who loved her sport to one who wants to love it but is frustrated because she can't find her way back to that happy place. Practice is full of ups and downs. It's a constant dance of one step forward, two steps back. Her father and I vacillate between trying to not talk about it a lot and not make the issue a big deal and tough loving her through it, insisting she go to practice with a good attitude. I've read online this is very common in her sport. Her coaches have assured me time and time again that it happens a lot in this sport at this level and that it will pass... eventually.

Last week, one of her coaches said something to me that stuck with me. She said the best thing I can do for my daughter is to make sure she's at practice every day. She told me that if she sticks with it, even when she doesn't want to, eventually, my daughter will get back to where was several months ago and she'll love the sport again.  But it's hard. It's hard to say, "No, you're going to practice," when she says she doesn't want to. But, I think the coach's point was my child is at this place where it's hard and she's frustrated and she can't see beyond that frustration so she thinks she wants to just give up. But deep down, she wants to see her dream through even more.... that it's my job to help push her over this hump... that someday, my daughter (And I!) will be grateful.

But honestly, I haven't been so sure.

Last night, I heard the coach's words in my head as I pointed my finger at my daughter and said, "Either suck it up and get in the car and go to practice with a good attitude or quit. Right now. Quit. If you don't want it anymore, quit. But if you do, then you've got to get your head in the game and go to practice and try your best. Do you want to quit? Are you done?" Through her tears she told me that no, she isn't done, and then she marched off to the car with her dad, ignoring me as I told her goodbye and good luck.

And then something happened.

I pulled up to practice and my daughter climbed into the car, like she always does. And I said, "Hey!" like I always do. And then she buoyantly launched into this story about how she'd had her best practice in a long time... how she'd had a breakthrough... how she felt like she was finally headed back to where she was... how she loved the sport again... how she was glad I made her go.

I wanted to cry. I know what this sport means to her. I know what her dreams are. I've never been certain I'm doing all the right things to help her reach them. I'm still not certain. What happened this week may have been a fluke. Her breakthrough may fizzle just as quickly as it came. But maybe it won't. My fingers are crossed that we've finally made it to the top of this ridiculously frustrating hump. If only I had one of those darn crystal balls.