When the Parent is more nervous than the Athlete

When the Parent is more nervous than the Athlete

4:17 am.  The numbers are blaring at me.  Really?  Come on.  I don't have to be up for another two hours.  I toss around for another 20 minutes.  It's no use.  Too many thoughts running through my head.  I'm never going to sleep now.  Damn.

The Illinois Sr. State Swim Championship meet is this weekend.  For the past seven months my daughter has been swimming at least two hours with an additional hour of dryland (lifting weights, running, biking) every day.  The training is brutal.  And it all comes down to one weekend.  They do meets here and there, but a swimmer - similar to a runner - works to the point of exhaustion for months and the week or two before the big event, they slow it down in order to have enough energy to compete at their maximum strength.

What all this means for me is that I can't sleep.  I have been nervous all night long.  Different scenarios race through my head, and I can't shake it.  My athlete?  Cool as a cucumber and sound asleep.

I'm the adult here, I'm the one that is suppose to be calming down the nervous athlete.  Saying things like, "It will be fine.  You'll do great.  And if you don't, it doesn't matter.  This is small in light of the grand scheme of life...."  And I do say those things on the outside.  But on the inside, I'm a wreck.  I can't help think, well what if this happens, or what if that happens.

What is wrong with me?  I'm the parent with all the experience.  I'm the one that has gone through the ups and downs of life in order to put this in perspective.  This is fun, not stressful.  Go out there and take in this memory, you'll remember it for the rest of your life, no matter what the outcome.


I'm nervous.  I know how much this performance means.  She has worked her tail off and I've been there watching the struggle all along the way.  I'm terrified for the weekend.  So much so that I know my husband is the calming force and he's going to take her.  I'm going to watch the live feed on the computer.  My poor dog.  She's been there before listening to me scream at the animated screen, hoping and praying my athlete will beat her best time.

Again I ask, what is wrong with me?  I'm suppose to know that there are much bigger, more intense moments in life.  There are people suffering great tragedies and I'm worried about a swim meet?  Deep down inside I know that.  I've experienced such extreme moments of joy and pain in this sport, and the next day came around exactly how it should, regardless of how my kid performed.  I've seen my daughter take second place in the entire state, only to later find out she was disqualified for a hand twitch.  She survived and came back stronger.

Since I know all that, why am I so nervous?  Because she's living MY dream?  No.  I hated swimming.  I was a diver.  I picked that sport because you only had to swim from the center of the pool to the ladder.  Is it because I expect perfection?  No.  If you've read my blog before, you know I'm very far from perfect.

It's because I'm a parent.  We want the best for our kids all the time.  We want them to feel success and taste the joy that's associated with achieving a goal.  We do the best we can to be a magnet and collect all of the negative feelings and take them on in order for our child to feel they are free from the pressure or burden.

I'd like to say I'm like this for only the major sporting events, but I'm not.  It's a disease really.  One of my daughters has had games at 7am all winter.  My internal clock starts nudging me at 5:30 for fear I'll oversleep and we'll miss it.  I watch my nine-year-old play soccer outdoor and tend to leave a mud puddle where I'm standing because I constantly shift back and forth and even kick a little on some of the plays imagining that my leg is helping the ball project into the goal.

I know there's a bigger picture.  I know this is all leading them to more well rounded lives.  I know they're experiencing extreme highs and lows in sports so they can better handle them in life.  But for right now, I just want to ignore that and keep my knotted up stomach intact and worry about the doctor bills for my undiagnosed ulcer later.


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  • A backstroke mother?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Am I that transparent?

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