Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Gymnast Dad

My last post showed what I'm thinking when my girls are doing great in a gymnastics meet. This post shows the other side. I wrote this a month ago, after one girl qualified for the MN State Championships, and one did not...and after the daily early-morning training started to get to me...

I'm a gymnast dad...

I cheer, "Go! You can do it!" before their event

"Way to go!! Good job!!!" after 

I keep quiet 'during' so I don't distract

I keep score...

I shout encouragement at event warm-up 

If they're sitting by an exit door I'll walk to get a drink so I can whisper good vibes in their ear  


Inside I feel completely helpless 

They bobble, I get worried 

They fall, I wince, and hope the video doesn't pick up my whispered curses  

My internal dialog constantly debates the cost/benefit analysis   
...on family
...on income
...on free time

Is that cost worth this performance? 

I second-guess the whole commitment 

I want them to be rock-stars 

...when they're not...when they struggle...I get mad 

Not at them, but frustrated they didn't do better 

Usually one does better than the other 

...which is most of the time 

I hate that 

I feel great for one, terrible for the other
I end up falling into spiraling frustration 

I don't push them

Quite the opposite: I ask if they want to their face

I ask if they love it
...because if they don't, well, it's back to the cost/benefit analysis

What do they say?

They LOVE it!

They love everything about it

"Gymnast" is their identity  

They're working harder than I've seen anyone work at their skills and fitness

I'm amazed at their dedication of daily wake-up for 2 hour before-school training

Their time management for homework, fun, family, training is outstanding 

They are becoming young women of character 

I'm finding it is worth every penny for them


In theory the early wake-up is good 

2 hours of uninterrupted focus on work  

I just don't know if I can sustain it...

I'm so completely tired

Fatigue has set in 

It affects my health, mood, outlook...temper 

maybe there's something else lurking... 

Midlife? Loss of purpose? Lack of worth?  

(Maybe I should take up gymnastics)

I feel inadequate...especially at the meets 

I'm bombarded by the constant noise of the crowd and floor music

I fumble through conversations

The parents around me seem so much more 'with it'

They're living their dream job, engaged in their kids, balancing it all

They talk, they laugh, they plan outings


I keep quiet...

I keep score...

I cheer for my girls...

I pray for their safety (oh God, I pray they don't fall on their neck)
I pray this is the right path for our family

We have a long road ahead...

...what will we say when we look back? 

 Will it have been worth it?

I pray...


  1. Been there.. I know exactly what you are going through.. and it will be worth every penny.

  2. The parents around me seem so much more 'with it'
    They're living their dream job, engaged in their kids, balancing it all
    They talk, they laugh, they plan outings

    Greg... those other parents have baggage, unfulfilled dreams, are living vicariously through their kids .... they ARE NOT balancing it all. They are pretending. remember it's all appearances. What your kids will remember is YOU ... being there. YOU whispering in their ear. YOU sacrificing for them.

    Keep cheering your kids on .... you are doing great! I'll keep cheering you and Karyn on from the sidelines as you continue your parenting journey!

  3. I agree with Cheri! What you have is nothing compared to them. I also am a cheerleader on the those girls immensely, love the boys and most definitely love you and Karyn! It will ALL be worth it!

  4. Will they get a scholorship if they stay at the gym you are at or will they burn out before they get the chance? Those are the worries I had with my Girls.

  5. As a coach we have those feelings too, we invest ourselves in every gymnast and we fear and celebrate and empathize and worry and hope too. We teach, like the parents and hope our lessons sink in. I think it's a commonality for all adults that have or work with children. You are not alone at meets (or ever). Thanks for this writing, I will share it with my club families.

    1. J, Thanks for your comment! Means a lot. My girls are still loving training level 5 one level 6 this summer. Thanks again.


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