Home > parenting, Princess, raising girls > That Magic Mom-ment…

That Magic Mom-ment…

That magic moment…
when your lips are close to MIIIIIIIINE…
will last forEVERRRRR…

No no no… not THAT magic moment… I’m talking about how (OF COURSE) you tell your kids all the time that you love them, and praise their accomplishments. But especially as you approach the turbulent tween & teen years, you wonder if you tell them enough, and whether it just goes in one ear, stopping only long enough to roll the eyes, and right back out the other. Every once in a while you get the opportunity to tell them something about themselves that isn’t about them as your child, but about the phenomenal individual they are growing into… and you know, with every fiber of your being, that they are going to carry that moment with them for the rest of their lives, and it will be a talisman between them and all the bullshit they are going to have to wade through in middle & high school.

In June, I traveled to San Diego with my 9yo daughter for a volleyball competition, having taken great pains to get her older brother & younger sister to family members in other states so it would be just me and the middle child… the one I have the hardest time getting one on one time with due to the way the school schedules have been the last two years. I could already see the benefit of those efforts on the way to the airport when she told me she was so glad it was just me and her… because she’s never gone on a trip by herself with me. We snuggled on the plane and took really bad self portraits with my crackberry. I knew the “Mommy & Me” trip was just what she needed.

But I wasn’t expecting that magic moment to come out of the clear blue sky that very first evening, as we were grabbing a quick dinner before opening ceremonies. As we were standing at the counter, waiting to order, two gentleman came up to pick up their orders. One reached over and touched Halle’s elbow, and asked,

Are you a Starling?

Halle’s eyes were wide as all outside, and as she nodded slowly, I reached slowly into my purse to grab my car keys in case I needed to stab him in the eyeball. Then he gestured to the logo on his shirt and said,

 I’m a Starling too!

So I let go of my keys and offered the gentleman, who turned out to be the National Starlings Ambassador, my hand instead of a trip to the ER… and was doubly thankful I’d done so when he gestured to the other gentleman and introduced him as the Starlings founder. I mentioned that we were in from Phoenix for the tournament. I was surprised when Ernie said he knew; he was also from Phoenix and in charge of the Jr. Referees in AZ and had seen Halle at tournaments. That alone was flattering, because there are a lot of girls at those tournaments, and it being her first year, Halle didn’t always get a lot of game time. So after chatting for a few minutes, they returned to their seats and Halle and I waited for our meals. We were still eating when Ernie & Byron left. Ernie paused at the counter where we were eating and patted Halle’s knee, wished her luck, and told her that she was a beautiful young lady and she was becoming a great volleyball player.

Now, if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time or read the archives I’ve transferred here, you know that Halle gets “petted” a lot for being a pretty girl (although it’s not as bad now as it was when she was younger)… and that it doesn’t always come across to her as the compliment people intend it to be. I wanted to make sure that she understood that this was something different, these words that had been given to her.

 I pondered for a few minutes, and then told her how proud I was in that moment to be her mom. I told her, he didn’t say you’re a pretty girl… he called you a beautiful young lady, and that’s a very high compliment. And I could tell that she was very proud in her shy way, as she said, “He meant I’m beautiful on the inside?” I agreed, and affirmed that this wasn’t a passing compliment from a stranger about her appearance… that even though she hadn’t seen him, Ernie had seen her… he’d seen her sportsmanship and how she gives her best to her team, whether it on the court or on the sidelines.

I saw that at the end of the first day… her team placed second in their pool, but as we were leaving, she told me it felt like they’d won first place. I was a proud mama again right before the last game on the second day of tournament play. We’d been up against some tough teams and the games had been really tight… Halle, who hadn’t played all morning, was going in to relieve one of the senior players. During warm up, Halle jammed her hand into the wall trying to grab a stray ball and it swelled up quickly enough to freak me out a little, and 13 years into the mama thing, I don’t panic easy. I got some ice on it right away, but couldn’t get Halle to make a fist. She’s not one to push through the pain, and didn’t even want to try. Finally I said, you grab my finger or I take you to the emergency room. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “I don’t want to go the the emergency room. My team needs my positive energy” and grabbed my finger. I sat on the bench next to her and held the ice pack and she sure enough kept calling out encouragement to her teammates. By the end of the first game, the swelling was nearly gone, and at the end of the second, she came to me and said she was ready to play. The swelling was gone and she had a full range of motion, so I told her, “Go work it out with your coaches.” I watched her run over & show her coach she had a full range of motion & some gesturing that I assumed meant she felt she’d be fine as long as she served underhand rather than overhand… and my heart swelled up…

On the last day of the tournament, Halle’s team was playing in the Gold Division. Every game was a nailbiter, and too close for the coach to rotate the younger players (namely, Halle since the other two girls who were 1st year players didn’t make the trip) into the game. By the time we got to the last game, playing our arch-rivals for first place, I was getting frustrated on the bleachers… wondering whether we travelled all the way to Nationals in San Diego for my baby to not play at all in the finals. She was taking it better than I was… she was there on the sidelines, cheering and calling encouragement to her teammates. She was put in at the very end of the last game of the final set when the other team had pulled ahead by several points and it was clear that victory was unlikely… but she wasn’t put out by that at all. She hustled while she was out there on the court, and there was no repeat of her first loss… the one that ended with her in tears. She was proud of her team, and I was so very proud of her.  

I’d been wondering the whole weekend… where does she get this from? It finally dawned on me the last day, when about the third parent from an opposing team asked, “Is that your daughter?” when mine wasn’t even playing. I always hoop & holler for all of them… although I do put a little extra into when it IS my baby out there… but I know I’m cheering for a team, not just the one player that belongs to me. I remembered at the opening ceremonies, I checked out the submissions for the Literary Arts Contest and saw that first place in the 12’s division had gone to a friend of Halle’s, who plays for one of the other 12yo teams in our club. When they announced the winners and called Tammia’s name, I stomped and clapped and almost screamed myself hoarse. I was stopped by Ernie the Ambassador afterwards… he wondered if Tammia was also my daughter. I started laughing, and said no, she doesn’t even play on the same team as my daughter, but they’re friends and go to school together. He commented that he’d seen me cheering for her and had been sure she was mine too. And I recalled this poem from the 70’s, called “Children Learn What They Live” and I started pondering that during the weeks after we returned home. Halle wasn’t the only one who had a profound moment that weekend. I was reminded once again, that they may not always be listening to what I’m saying… but my children are always watching, and my example speaks louder to them than any lecture.
  1. August 16, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    This was profound.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. August 16, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    I spit out my strawberry lemonade when I read…
    ‘I slowly reached into my purse to grab my car keys in case I needed to stab him in the eyeball,’ LOL!

    Just a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing!

    • August 16, 2009 at 6:53 PM

      GIRL… when it comes to my babies, I don’t play. I will go crazy white girl in a hot second 😉

  1. September 13, 2009 at 12:05 AM

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