Decisions that matter and those that change everything

Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy, a decision made after years of anguished thought, one that changed my life.  Words to some, but a 2 year-long process that changed everything about how I think, how I make decisions and almost everything about my life.  The entire stream of thought that started this blog as I worked through my decisions to have surgery over 3 years ago.  I truly do believe that the process changed my life as well as my families.

Over time these pages became my thoughts on life, parenting and more.  I have never changed the name because no matter the thoughts shared, they have always been about “decisions” in some way.  I mean that is all life is right?  A long road paved in decisions both good and bad.

As your kids grow they become involved in activities, sports and otherwise and you grow to trust the adults, often parents who also have children involved.  You tell yourself that they are doing what is best for all of the kids as well as your child.  This is our story with soccer.  The girls have both played since 5 years old.  Issues began to show themselves last year with our older daughter’s team but to be honest at the time I was in the midst of the Town Council election race and could not refused to see it  act on the issues.

11928724_10203867858291906_7063304232702176066_nIt became clear the development of my child was not important to those in charge of the team.  She was not having fun, the team was not growing and something had to give.  In our town many demand loyalty to the “township”.  I am loyal only to those I love and those loyal to myself and those I love.  It became clear it was time for a decision,

Decisions, stay within our township and play for a team put together as an after thought,

Decisions, Play for other townships who we once competed against(a few wanted Meg because she was one of the strongest full-time goalkeepers in the area, a position she never wanted to play full-time)

Decisions, go totally outside the established township societal rules and try out for a private club team.

The long process of making this decision sounds so silly to some but when the will, thoughts and feelings of an 11-year-old girl are involved, absolutely nothing is easy.  This was a very difficult decision, she would not know anyone, she would play outside of our community.  Since she was not ever provided playing time on the field (outside of goal) she was at a clear disadvantage.  We showed up for a training and after only 45 minutes my girl was accepted to the team, a private club team.  The interesting feedback from the evening, she would be expected to play all aspects and was too young to be limited to any one aspect of the game but that they would train her.  The decision was clear and made immediately.  My girl was thrilled.

For the last 2 months we have practiced and trained all guided under the eyes of her new coach.  Scrimmages and 3 v 3 competitions to prepare for the season brought us to this past weekend.  Our first tournament to prepare for the season.  With Megan’s background and skill she is still the starting keeper for the team and started all 3 games during the first half.  In the second half of the first game she took the field  as a mid-fielder playing a mixed offensive/defensive position and pulled her weight.  It was the second game where my head spun!  Midway through the second half  I saw my girl substituted into the game as a Forward.  I figured she was there just to give someone a water break and that it would be a short shift but then something happened.  Meg had only been in the game for about 2-3 minutes when her team began moving down the field.  A beautiful pass from a teammate right to the center of the field where Meg was waiting and with one touch Megan launched the ball into the top of the net for her first goal ever.

Meg jumped so high it became clear to her teammates how special this was for her.  Hugs and high fives were exchanged.  Pride, confidence, development and teamwork.  Our decision was clearly the right one.  I have never seen my daughter practice so hard and enjoy the game so much.  She looks forward to practice and can not wait for the next game.  They will not win every game but they have heart, fight and a will to succeed.  If life were a book I would have to say that this chapter is still being written but the first few pages look like one great story!

A mother’s crazy pride

It starts when they are born, how alert the baby in the first seconds of life or the belief that we saw them wave to us the first time you held them in your arms.  That crazy mother’s pride that you have just delivered to the world the next great thinker.  That crazy pride that at some point we all show. It of course is measured differently by all, to some every single thing you child does is amazing. Facebook posts are made hourly to announce each and every “new” moment.  To others, they are so guarded there is really nothing that will spark that crazy mommy thing. To the rest of us it is everything in between,

Both of my girls are playing travel soccer this year and my husband is one of the coaches on the little ones team. Last week was the official opening week. Of course both games were at the same time so we were separated. I believe it was the first game of Meg’s that Frank had ever missed, (and thankfully so). My daughter is the primary goalkeeper for her team, a team who saw three of its top offensive players pulled up to another team in the off-season. The game itself was, well it was a catastrophe, a pure annihilation. I could take this moment to tell you that it was over 90 degrees and,…but I could not tell you anything both teams did not have happening to them. Our girls had lost by the 10 minute mark of the first half. The entire team looked like they had never played the game before (although this is the 3rd year of travel soccer), and if I am being truly honest my daughter was plan awful. She was lazy and half-hearted and when pulled from the goal at the half I was thrilled. The game was painful to watch.

We have spent many an hour sitting at extra training sessions with Meg to help her be the best keeper she can be as well as a good chunk of money on those sessions as well as protective gloves, jerseys etc.  We of course understand that the ball has to get through the rest of the girls before it ever even reaches her position.  We also fully understand that she can not score from her end of the field so if the team does not even take a shot she can not control that.  What she can control is the effort she puts forth each and every time she takes the field, we expect that  she gives it her all.

These are some of the things we discussed all week-long heading into week two.  There was no yelling but the conversations were stern.  My expectations are high for my children and I do everything I possibly can to help them to rise to those expectations.  I believe that is a big part of what is wrong with the country right now, the lowering of expectations.  We stressed to Megan that no one expects anything from her except to come out each week and play hard.

The girls took to the field this week under cloudy skies and rain expected.  My girl was on!  She stopped one and then a second and with each her confidence came back.  The team fed off of her spark and even though the rains came and made the game a little messy the girls took away a well deserved 2-0 win.  Seeing my children believe in themselves, seeing them rise to the challenge, seeing them fight, that is where I derive my pride.  Megan was so happy.  She walked off the field with her head help high and a smile a big as could be.

They will always have ups and downs.  My job it to figure out how to help them reduce the distance between the two, to help them brush off and recover quickly from the lows and to always, always be strong enough to face the next challenge.  I love my job!

A Mother’s Pride

What makes me smile?  Maybe it is watching my 6-year-old score 4 goals in a soccer game.  Or listening to that same beautiful girl read me the book she took out of the library.  This same little girl who used to think it was funny to look at a color and tell me the wrong answer and laugh.

For years I worked tirelessly hoping to achieve success.  The kind of success that the powers that be measure in scorecards and pay bonuses on and yes base you overall job on.  I smoked heavily and stressed even more heavily.  I lost friends along the way because my priorities were often misguided.  If the scorecards or the paychecks were the measure I was successful.  There was a problem, I was not happy.

Today I experienced pure happiness.  It started with a 6 year old’s soccer game and my baby controlling the soccer field.  The coolest part was actually in the car before we arrived when she explained that one of the other little girl had not scored a goal yet this year so she intended to help her finally achieve that goal today.  How awesome is that?  My little girl concerned about the feeling of a friend and planning how to help.

Megan had a different experience today.  Since the beginning of the soccer season she has been the starting (and only) goalie of her team.  Today due to some political silliness and forgetfulness she was made to sit for the first 10 minutes of the game.  So a small step back first, when my daughter was asked to try out the goalkeeper position last year I was not a fan.  She was interested so I agreed.  It has not always been easy and there is a TON of extra pressure playing the position.  Since she has decided she enjoys it, my husband and I have invested in her success.  She attends goalkeeper camps that typically run about 8 weeks at a time and add an extra cost of anywhere from $170-$200 each to our lives.  She is about to attend the fourth of such camps in 2 weeks which would put the overall investment at 32 hours and roughly $720.  So when my child misses one practice in order to fit everything in and enjoy Halloween and some one complains forcing my child to sit for 10 minute the mama bear in me rears up just a bit.  Since I understand the position of the coach I bite my tongue and suck it up and deal with the situation.

So back to real-time, fourth quarter game tied 1-1 and a call of hand ball inside the 18 yard line on our team.  A direct kick straight on my baby with no help.  As a parent I am of course concerned with the safety of my child first.  As a parent on the team I worry about the possible goal that is sure to go in setting up only the second loss of the season.  The time seemed to slow to a crawl.  The referee talked to my daughter, words I could not hear from the side line.  The talk seemed to last for minutes and all the while there was silence from the parents.  Sitting in our local park maybe it was just me but there was purse silence.  Once finished talking to Megan the ref went to the other girls and pushed them all back behind the 18 yard line.  Time continued to stand still.  He positioned himself and finally blew his whistle.  As I held my breath the play finally started.  The young lady from the other team took a minute and stepped to the ball launching it to the top of the net.  My baby reach up knocking the ball down and with the ball bouncing in front of the goal line, a live ball, all 12 girls from each side rushed into the net attempting to take control of the ball.  My baby totally unphased by the rush dropped to the ground covering the ball putting an end to the play. She grabbed the ball, ran to one end of the 18 and dropped a punt to mid field.  A skill learned though many hours of camps and practice.

Our entire team players and families cheered but only my husband and I could fully understand just how great this was.   See, my daughter has never been a natural athlete.  Quiet the contrary she is a book-worm would much prefer to sit and read all day.  It has taken many hour of work stress and sometimes tears to get this far. She has dedicated herself to improving her game. To see her leadership on the field taking control and basically telling the others “hey follow me I have this”, as a parent you can not help but feel pride.  Is there any better definition of a leader?

So as a parent, to sit on the side lines watching a child who does not even realize that due to circumstances beyond her control she is being punished, step into a game and take the team onto her shoulders as a true leader, well if that does not instill pride into a mother what does?