“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Marcus Aurelius
It hit me hard this morning. The kind of hard where you can’t control your emotions. Where you try to sniffle up the snot that fills your nose and tell people your eyes are watery due to allergies or contacts.
As I sat in the Neurologist’s office among a crowded group of parents and kids, tears welled up in my eyes and my heart started to race. My breath became short and overwhelming guilt-ridden stomach pains thrashed sharply as I sat on the cold leather couch.
I had waited for 30 minutes already. When I arrived no one was in the waiting room but me so you can understand my impatience at not being taken care of before now. I had things to do, errands to run and little time to fit it all in. All’s I needed was a copy of the paperwork regarding my daughter’s recent concussion she got last month during a soccer game. The school needed the paperwork for their records. I needed that paperwork or they might not let her back on the field tonight. It’s Districts week for high school. She has to get back out there. What if she doesn’t? What if she’s out another week? What if she has no endurance or plays terribly when she does play? What if the coach benches her anyway? All these things were rolling through my mind while sitting by myself in that waiting room.
And then they walked in…
The first family had a young girl in a wheelchair hooked up to multiple tubes. She was wearing a “Frozen” sweatshirt and had drool traveling down her pale chin.
The second was a frazzled middle-aged mom with a boy who looked in his late teens. He came in screaming, grunting and running around the waiting room. His mother grabbed him gently by the arm and settled him down, coercing him to the chairs on the far end of the waiting room where he preceded to silently rock himself back and forth.
The third family didn’t speak English. Their child looked to be about 10, had braces on both legs and a walker. He couldn’t verbally communicate in Spanish or English. He sat down quickly in front of the TV to watch cartoons. He never blinked.
The last family to come in was a young couple with a beautiful little girl who walked with a very noticeable limp. She sat down next to me and smiled. I said, “Hi! What’s your name?” She quickly lifted her hands and “signed” to me. Her mother explained she was deaf and had several other learning and motor delays.
That’s when it hit me. The fact that I was overly concerned and annoyed that I couldn’t get my paperwork in a timely manner now seemed ridiculous. The fact that I was worried about my daughter playing soccer tonight, her playing time and performance, suddenly didn’t matter.
As I looked around the room I thought to myself…these kids will never play soccer like my kids. They won’t ever make a D1 travel or varsity team. But do you think their parents are worrying about that? No way! They are finding ways to help their kids live life to the fullest. They aren’t consuming their time with worry that their child won’t score a goal or hit a homerun. They aren’t fearful of their child being cut from the high school team or not getting an athletic scholarship. They don’t criticize their kids when they miss the catch for the winning touchdown or yell from the sidelines their frustration with a child’s performance or effort.
The dark side of youth sports has infected so many parents, including me. How very sad. I’m embarrassed to have spent so much time through the years overthinking our children’s performance, their skill level and their future.
So today I am simply thankful for our three healthy children. I’m thankful they can run and play sports because I love to watch them compete. But I am more thankful they can walk, and talk, and feed themselves. I feel blessed that they can go to normal schools, drive a car and have a good job someday. I won’t take each healthy day I get with them for granted, knowing all of that could change in an instant.
Thanks God for the wake-up call. I’ll see you at the game tonight.