Monday, October 3, 2011

The Competitive Mom In Each Of Us

I love this time of year!  The crisp warmth of the sun lets us know autumn is soon to arrive. We’re shuttling our kiddos to their after-school sports.  Maybe this is your first sports season as the proud mom.  Beware.  The competitive mom lives inside of each of us.  It’s what you do with her that counts.  Here is how I found that person inside of me. 
On this particularly sweltering Easter Sunday in South Carolina, my parents and I, along with my two toddlers ventured out to our first-ever Easter egg hunt.  Jump castles, face painting and games galore were scattered across a great, green lawn behind a church right in town.  Thankfully, ice water stations were abundant and I didn’t have to worry as much about my father or my boys. 
The jumpy house for toddlers had the fewest in line.  It always seems awkward–you throw your little tyke into an enclosure of mesh so he can bounce into a mess of strange, random little kids.  We smile at them from the outside; patiently watching them go up and down, side to side, even get a little trample or two. Before long they’re bored and they slide out. 
My 15-month old was too young to participate in the egg hunt, which I soon would realize why—so he stayed with my parents in the shade of some pines.  I found our designated spot and prepared for the hunt.  As we lined up, a various mixture of moms and dads with one or more children, I realized we still had time to wait before the ribbon was cut. 
Under the hot sun, 20 minutes ticks by, seemingly longer than it does at the while you’re waiting in the doctor’s office wearing a paper dress.  How do you explain the time issue to an excitable toddler who can see hundreds of colorful eggs lying just in front of us?   As we stand, beads of sweat forming on my brow, a direct order from the sun; adults readied, closing in tighter and tighter at the ribbon, waiting for the volunteers to cut it already.  I wanted my boy to get a lot of eggs.  But I worried about the other parents.  Did they have a plan?  So…quickly I devised one.  We will book it, Ninja-Warrior style, to the middle and I’d kick eggs to my boy who will swiftly scoop them into our basket.  I told my two-year-old of our master plan.
Finally, we see a chopper nearing us.  The draw to this particular egg hunt was the promise of a helicopter flying direct and low over our field of eggs.  Sure enough, they followed through as promised.  This moment elated me as I saw my son’s eyes fill with wonder as his hair wisped a dance of excitement; the little bunny nose they’d hand painted on his cheek now smudging down his smiling little face.  We cheered as the helicopter dropped those colorful plastic eggs into the roped-off hunt zone that beckoned us to begin!  As it flew off, I was suddenly aware of butterflies in my stomach.  What was this feeling?  I just wanted to make darned sure my happy little boy stayed this way and grabbed his worth in eggs.
This was the moment, folks; the birth of my parental competitiveness.  I’d seen it on TV with pageant moms and baseball dads.  I didn’t know I had it in me.  But suddenly, with my legs poised for the race, I had one mission.  GET. LOTS. OF. EGGS.  In my imagination, I held my son like an NFL running back with a football, heading for the end zone. I don’t remember the ribbon coming down; I just remember blocking and ducking and kicking and scooping.  With about 30 eggs in my basket, I felt triumph!  We won!  I cheered with my son who could’ve cared less if we had gotten 10 eggs.  I was proud.  Oh, the glory!
Almost immediately, the guilt kicked in.  Was that poor sportsmanship or was I defending my little son against those rascally four-year-olds?   I decided I needed to redeem myself, so I kneeled down to my son’s level and told him to look for a little girl who didn’t have any eggs–or very few eggs–and to give her some of ours…what’s wrong with me???  I’m even calling these eggs ours, instead of his. 
Ultimately, the arrival of this competitive mom surprised me and I’m intrigued to learn more about her.  I know she will come in handy when it comes to my children’s grades and their utmost success.  Though I also know I need to keep it in check and not become one of those moms!
Go on out there!  Proudly shout out your child’s name!  Encourage them.  Ultimately, just remember to be gracious and respect the other kids and parents out there.  Even if it means giving up a few eggs.

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