At Once I Understood

I remember standing on the grassy football field the night of my graduation. Cords and medals hung around my neck; a cap that belonged to another student before the celebratory toss now rested atop my head, extra fluffy thanks to the humidity. My boyfriend found me on the field and put his arms around me saying how proud he was of me. And I clearly remember thinking, “Why?”

Of course I said, “Thank you,” or gave a grateful smile as I had to my parents when they expressed similar sentiments all during the time surrounding my high school graduation, but I didn’t get it. What was the big deal? I graduated high school. I did what I was supposed to do. Didn’t almost everyone?

It wasn’t like the time I qualified for Nationals. Only a small percentage of people can call themselves gymnasts, and an even smaller percentage get to stand on the podium as one of the top seven girls who qualified to represent her region. I remember the feeling; my cheeks were stretched tight into a smile that I couldn’t stop had I wanted to.

But I didn’t want to stop. I savored every minute of that night. I laughed with my teammates, giddy over what some of us achieved. We posed for pictures, and when my parents said they were proud of me, I understood. I was proud of me, too.

I had worked hard for that moment, years of training in the gym and years of coming oh-so-close, missing the cut-off by a tenth of a point. Going to Nationals wasn’t a guarantee for anyone, but I was getting my chance.

Standing on that football field didn’t feel the same.

Of course, I wasn’t looking through the eyes of a parent.

 

I didn’t understand that what came naturally for me wasn’t necessarily easy for everyone else.

 

 

I didn’t understand that it wasn’t necessarily the outcome that made my parents proud but the hard work, determination, and focus along the way.

 

 

And I didn’t understand that they weren’t proud because of what I could do but proud because of who I had become.

I didn’t understand then, but now I’ve sat in the bleachers of a T-ball game between five and six years olds. I’ve tensed every muscle as I nervously looked at the action on the field. I’ve cheered my heart out and had pride fill my chest. I’ve felt my cheeks stretch tight as a smile took over my face. And I recalled the giddiness of that teenage girl who just qualified for Nationals.

No, I didn’t understand what the big deal was when I stood on the football field, but when I watched my son take his own position on the field, it all became clear. And at once I understood.

When was a moment when you felt most proud?

8 thoughts on “At Once I Understood

  1. I guess the closest I have come to feeling proud over my child’s accomplishment (since he’s just 3) was this week at the kindergarten fair start evaluation. I was just sitting back watching my adorable smart little boy do everything right! Except when he spelled his name wrong ON PURPOSE!!

    But I also remember feeling super proud of my brother when he graduated grade 8. I understand the proud feeling for someone else. However, I was very proud of myself when zi graduated high school :). I wanted fanfare and accolades and presents!! I got none of that though…but I was still very proud!

    Like

    1. It's definitely fun watching one's kid do well, and from your own posts, I can tell your little boy is quite the smart one!

      Like

  2. Isn't it amazing how some things click into place when we become parents? This is a prime example – a little bit of vicarious living…both fear and pride, sort of all mixed up together. I don't know if pride is the right word, but when I was ordained in 1997, there was a flood of deep emotional resonance – a sense of rightness, of God's hand on my life. Maybe that's what you're asking?

    VERY cool to imagine such an incredible accomplishment in gymnastics. I am super impressed.

    Like

    1. Oh, definitely, Diana. I can only imagine what your experience felt like, knowing that you were exactly where God wanted you and that your hard work had finally paid off. It sounds like a beautiful moment.

      Like

  3. Now you understand why I missed only one of your gymnastics meets (the Buckeye) whether they were in town or out of state. I was proud of your accomplishments but more impressed with your drive.
    Believe it or not, you being a perfectionist even as a little child, had an effect on me. It made me stay focused on what you were attempting to accomplish and I wanted to make sure I was there to help motivate you. Caleb has a lot of you in him.

    love
    Dad

    Like

    1. I've definitely noticed that Caleb has a lot of me in him, but mostly it's the negative–worrying too much, acting over-sensitive, etc. Too bad we can't pick which traits to pass on!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s