I’m going to frame this in the world of gymnastics, because it’s what I know – personally and as a parent. However, trying to wrap my head around the sadness I felt upon seeing several Facebook posts from husband’s retiring teammates was the catalyst for this three part series.
Each summer I look at our team family and feel like it’s complete. You embrace the newcomers that have been added, but there are the familiar faces that have been a part of your life year after year. Whether it’s the girls you came up with in the pre-team program, or the ones you have watched adorn the walls with trophies season after season, they become fixtures in your world. You can’t imagine the family without them.
Then the day comes that it’s time for one of them to walk away. Life calls you a different direction sometimes, and at some point that day comes. When you’re new to a team, it’s hard to be left behind as others move on. It’s not just about the physical act of competing; it’s about the family you build. R has only been on her team for a year and a half, but I can’t imagine our lives before the people – the moms, the girls, the coaches – that made it so special. From season to season it seems impossible that you won’t walk in and see all those faces again. Will it be the same? Will we have as much fun? It’s never the same, but it can be different fun.
When I sat down to write this piece I couldn’t wrap my head around how you can walk away from something that runs deep in your veins, because as I think about gymnastics and being a gym mom, it isn’t our time yet. As I watch A go to football camp, and the kids train for the Iowa Games, I know that our time is just beginning. So what exactly happens when it’s time to walk away? Is it that you don’t love it anymore? Is it physical? Mental? Then I realized I’ve done it. Twice. I know the familiar ache of not seeing your friends at competitions on the weekends; of longing to do one last pass down a blue mat. I still feel the heartbreak of knowing I’m not walking back into my own classroom to teach kids I’ve spent months or years building relationships with. It’s painful to walk away from something you love and from people you care about. Especially when you know you can still do it. It hurts and there are tears and you wonder if it’s really even the right decision. People tell you that you can go back again, but that’s not always true.
When you live and breathe a sport or even a career, I don’t think closing the door is really even possible. Nor am I positive most of us even want to completely close the door. So how do you know when it’s time to be done? How do you know that it’s your final time on the floor?