This will be my 30th Mother’s day. My children are grown and leading their own lives. I can’t say it has been easy, simply because it has not been easy. However, I do know of all the jobs I have ever had it has given me the greatest sense of accomplishment. The goal of every parent is to nurture, encourage, and promote an individual to become ultimately autonomous. I have often used the metaphor of comparing raising children to the game of football.
I do realize that a child cannot be called a pig skin. But indeed, without them, there is no game, and more important is without them there is no reason for a game. We start out quite literally carrying them. Then after a while you are able to pass to your partner, or co-coach. At that time you can go to the bench to take a bit of a rest. But not for too long, you are always in the game. You must remember the coach needs to watch their own health and diet. Mental and physical fitness will determine your quality of leadership. The game has a set time. For most coaches our allotted time is about 18 years. We have to appreciate that time and put our best effort into it.Your role will change but the participation will never end. The time that we have to teach is limited. From day one you are on the clock. Someday you ultimately will pass the ball to them and they will be responsible for their own game.
I am sad to say I have known several other coaches in my life who have had a player; through no fault of their own permanently removed from the game. There is no greater loss. It can best be described as walking through the fire. A piece of their heart goes with them. From infancy to adulthood the pain is the same. The knowledge of someday connecting once more and uniting the team is the only solace there. There the perfect game will always be in play. Perhaps the hardest thing is to continue on with the rest of the team. Difficult as that task is, it has to be done.
At first you think you alone are responsible for them. This is not the case. You need others as well. Teachers, doctors, family, friends and neighbors all contribute to the growth and welfare of the team. We are all interdependent. Understanding of their network of supporters will increase your teams advantage and ultimate success of the overall game. There are players with special needs. They are a part of the team requiring a different focus sometimes but playing an important part as each player has their own assets. Above all else remember that you know your players best.
The game through the ages has evolved away from being terribly violent just as society has. Dangers are still there to be reckoned with. There is protective gear, and the rules of the game rules need to be implemented,observed and obeyed for the success of the team. As the coach you need to evaluate the whole team. Taking note of each members talents,strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes you will have to take them out of the game to bench them for a toddler time out or a teenage grounding. The coach needs to encourage each player to maximize their abilities. They must understand that there are penalties for breaking the rules. They also must learn to be able to focus on the tasks at hand without losing sight about how they want to play their own game.
The touchdowns will be many. from their first words and steps, to graduations. marriage,recovery from illnesses and broken hearts. Sometimes they will lose the game they are presently playing. You must remind them that one loss is just a small part of the big picture. There are new strategies and skills that are born of disappointment and loss.
Other people always don’t play by the rules. This is a difficult and often painful lesson to learn. Their moral compass must lead them to treat other players as they would like to be treated. The quality of winning is determined by character. Honesty, faithfulness and a charitable heart, will lend itself to many a sweet victory.
Even though you instruct them on proper use of protective gear, they will get hurt. They have to get fully involved in the game themselves.In order to learn they have to make their own decisions, To pass, or not to pass, can only be decided in the moment. Inevitably, sometimes that ball will be dropped. You will just have to stand by and watch what happens, and there is just no possible intervention. Be joyful in victory and supportive and encouraging in loss.
This Mother’s Day I reflect upon my own team. I am proud to say they all are fierce and honest competitors in this game of life. There indeed have been penalties and losses. They have learned from them. They have kept their eyes on the prize. They have made many touchdowns are there are more to come. The song Forever Young exemplifies my love for them, and I think every parents ultimate dream for their team.
The most important fact for your player, is to know that you will always be there for them. No matter where they are or what they do, you have their backs. You are always reliable, always trusted, always in their corner, always encouraging them to strive, and forever cheering them on to their personal touchdowns. Yay team!! Happy Mother’s Day!