Wednesday, April 3, 2013


My husband is convinced that I will name any future children Olivia, Stabler, and Fin. He is probably right.

I watch Dance Moms with varying expressions of incredulities, disbelief and shame. I have watched more than one Honey Boo Boo, IN A ROW. There is (unfortunately) little shame in my guilty pleasure. But I cringe when I see advertisements for Cheer Perfection; I turn the channel before it comes on and think happy thoughts if I happen to hear recaps from someone else.

I was a cheer mom. The WORST kind--the loud, always-right, takes-it-way-too-seriously, has a talented kid who I embarrassed--cheer mom.

We fell into cheer; baby girl was about to start kindergarten and taking a tumbling class at a local gym. She wanted to sign up for a cheer clinic, and the instructor let her, though she was not yet 6. The rest is history.

She is super talented, can do handsprings and tucks and jumps.

But super talented isn't always enough when you're a cheer mom. I compared. I fussed. I complained. I pushed. And in the end, none of us loved cheer.

Life happened. I married and moved hours away; baby girl had to sit out since we moved midseason. Midseason turned into sitting out a full season and rec classes. The husband and I shared carpool duties to dance and tumbling. Carpool only, never darkening the door of the gym.

I was cured.

UNTIL. Until she told me she missed it. Missed the routines, the workouts, the competitions. And we delved back in, looking for a gym for next season.

We stumbled upon one in a neighboring town; the coach wanted her to come for a workout and get a feel for the group.

I felt a little like someone in recovery, walking into a bar again. I asked my husband to pray without ceasing while we were gone, and I asked my daughter if I could watch her while she worked out.

"Will you be nice?"

I didn't have the heart to ask if she meant to her or everyone else, but I nodded and added, "If I will make you uncomfortable, I will wait in the car." 

I was pardoned and took a seat in the lobby. She shook hands with the coach and started to stretch. As they progressed to tumbling, she moved from the line and came to stand beside me.

"I'm scared."

I wish there wasn't that little part of me that wanted to say 'Suck it up and just go out there.' But there is. It is ingrained, deep. The professional woman. The single parent. The survivor. We don't admit to fear.

Then there is the mom. A role that is evolving, that I am learning still, even if I'm not always comfortable.

The mom spoke, "It is OK to be scared. You haven't cheered for a while. Just take a breath and do whatever pass you want."

She leaned on me for a while, her body only two inches shorter than mine, her strong legs against my seated torso, her elbow on my shoulder.

And I think of all those nights, sharing a bed, her infant body resting in the curve of my hip. As a toddler, tiny toes pressed into my back. Lying closer wrapping her limbs around me as she grew. Never close enough for her. Her breath light on my face as she slept.

When I married, she picked out a new bedroom set, moved down the hall to her own bed. How I worried that she would be afraid without me. She straightened her pink zebra blanket and never looked back.

"Mama gets scared sometimes too."

And she left, joined the line, and looked at the coach when it was her turn.

I was amazed to watch her in the air. I had not seen her tumble in over a year. Flips with no hands, high into the air. Light on her feet as she landed.

And she looked at me. She was waiting to see where I would have her improve, what she could have done differently, better.

She got a thumbs up.

She shrugged, smiled, and got in line again.
This was my second chance. My second chance to watch my baby girl do something she loves. My second chance to encourage and support. My second chance to be involved.

Thankful today that I serve the God of second chances. Not only cheer mom, do-overs, but renewed every morning. Thankful that my God has given me more than a second chance.

The coach asked baby girl join the senior squad for the last competitions of this season.

She was thrilled.

I was nauseous.

But we both went forward.

I am still a work in progress, but enjoying watching her excel.

I let her coach, coach.

And I am her mom. A CHEER MOM, with a second chance.

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