As I sit here watching the London 2012 Olympic Games, I find myself watching the parents as much as I’m watching the athletes. Before I was a parent, the Olympic athletes were always like independent demigods and demigoddesses to me. Kind of like Titans. I never thought about what it truly meant to train…the early mornings and late nights, the dedication. And I never thought about the parents much. Until now.
I never though about the moms and dads…okay, moms, let’s get real. Shuttling their athlete back and forth from home to gym…gym to home. Moving to find a new gym or sending your baby off to training…like Natalie Hawkins, Gabby Douglas’ mama.
When my kiddos scrape their knee, I feel the pain. When they’re sick, I wish it were me. When I watch school plays, I know the lines…I watch with baited breath and I say silent cheers and choke back tears as I watch the possibility of what’s to come.
And then there’s the parents of these outstanding young people. These young Olympians. The parents watch from afar with no control…no way of scooping up their baby if they falter or racing down to embrace them and rain down praise when they grab a medal. They wait. They put on a brave face. I think about Aly Raisman’s parents who chair performed their daughter’s uneven bar routine. Each release, each skill…I get it. I’d do the same.
I just finished watching the Women’s All Around Gymnastics competition and found myself locked into watching Gabby’s mama, Natalie Hawkins. I know a bit of the back story about her decision to remove barriers to Gabby’s gymnastics career. And I want her to know I see her. I SEE her.
Dear Natalie Hawkins,
I see your tears. Call it joy, call it validation, call it what you will. I cried along with you. The struggle, the guilt, the conflict…was it the right thing to do? To send your baby away? You can let your tears flow; let your doubt go. The sacrifices were worth it. Congratulations, Mama.
I see your mother’s heart. As Gabby performed I saw the triumph of a mother’s love, support, and guidance. You never let her give up on herself. When she doubted herself, you pushed her further. You let your baby go so she could fly. And how she flies…with you by her side.
I see your pride. Your heart overflowing. The investment returning. Your baby soaring. Her goal turned gold.
Congratulations, Mama. Congratulations.
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