I used to be "that" parent. You know, the one that pushed their children to be involved in an activity, because it was my passion. I read more and more about the psychology of motivation, and what drives us to be passionate. It doesn't have to be sports, it can be anything. Passion is a force that drives us to be involved in an activity that feeds our soul.
I love being active. I of course, want my children to have that love as well. I want to watch them run amongst the trees, playing on the dirt course, floating across pine needles. I want them to feel the fresh air through their hair. I want them to love the way the tree bark feels across the tips of their fingers. I would spend all day playing in the woods if I could.
The thing is, that's me...not them. I have had a hard time accepting that my children may not love my passion. Madison is a perfect example. Since 5th grade, she has tried her hand at running several times. And, she hates it. Every. Single. Time. It became quite apparent to me last year, when she was in the 7th grade, that I would have to bite my tongue. I knew that Madison kept signing up for such activities to not only make me proud, but to be like me.
So, last year when she came home nearly in tears telling me that she hated track, I knew I couldn't push her. I looked at her, and said, "All I ever want for my kids is to be the best they can be. I don't care if it's track, singing, stamp collecting, or journalism...you just have to give it 110%." In all honesty, Madison had given track her best. Because of this, I did something I don't normally do. I allowed her to quit. It turned out to be one of the best things I could do for Madison.
I set her free to be herself, an individual. Not a carbon copy of myself. She completed an application for Leadership Academy, and was accepted. She tried out for Show Choir, and made it in. I had given her permission to find her niche, HER passion.
Madison has never responded well to my tough love approach. She immediately shuts down when I push. I always thought being competitive would click with her one day. I believed the more I pushed, and the more I involved her in my world of running, that she would become engulfed in my same passion. That's not how it works, she had to find what made her tick.
Madison offers a peacefulness to the world. Since she has found what she loves, she is full of happiness and radiates joy. When she smiles, it reminds me of a younger me, but better. Her heart is always in the right place. I couldn't be prouder of my daughter for not running.
Halle and CJ both find joy on the dirt single track. They both want to be fast. I am trying to teach them endurance. Part of the joy for me is watching their faces light up when they hit a distance PR, or find a snail on the trail and "rescue" the shelled slug. It's sharing the beauty of the journey with them that makes my heart radiate with pride. No ribbon, medal, or podium can replace that kind of pride.
All I can ever hope for my children is to find their happy place and never give up on that passion. Passion is what keeps the fire alive in us. It makes us want to be the best version of ourselves. That's all I can really hope to instill in my children.