Life is settling in after the crazy whirlwind that was my life this summer. And by settling in, I'm talking long hours at work, the kids going back to school, and, oh by the way, two cases of hand, foot, and mouth in my little men, along with a horrid cold for me.
I use to play softball professionally but had not picked up or thrown a ball in eight years. Several months ago, I was asked to rejoin Softball Canada for the World Championships. This meant I could get back into the sport I love but I would be away from the people I love for several weeks at a time.
Now, life seems to be back on track.
I have had a ton of emotions rip through me since I have been home. I really forgot how much team sports can teach a person. I know I have taken the life lessons with me, but when you are in the trenches, they are sometimes hard to gather.
And when I mean trenches, I mean just plain daily life as a parent and a small business owner. Life seems tough at times. My summer away was hard and painful in more ways than one, but in some ways, it was like a vacation - the lack of duties, no worries of bills, no rushing from school to work to recitals, no business problems. I was free. It was crazy!
I really have thought long and hard about the great things that came from this summer. Just the pure joy I had, the tough moments of missing my family, the reflection that came with looking at my life while I was, in essence, removed from my normal mom life. And I have some nuggets of wisdom I am keeping with me.
1. Take time for yourself to do something you love
More than ever, I understand what it means to do something you love. You know the saying, "money can't buy happiness?" I always understood it - but not on the level that I do now. I love softball, and I got to play it again on the world stage. Did I play to make money? Nope. Did I play because I love the game? Yep. And would I take that over staying back home and doing something I disliked, but was more lucrative? You know it! This summer reminded me how important it is to just play. To do something you have a passion for. To truly do something that makes you happy, without actively trying to be happy.
Nothing would make me happier than to see my kids find something they absolutely love to do in life. As they grow up, I can't wait for them to be excited for all of their passions ... practices, games, recitals, whatever makes them happy. I can't wait for them to try all kinds of sports and activities so they get a taste of what they can tolerate, what they like, and what they truly love. And, hopefully, that leads to a life driven by a fire that is lit inside of them, versus money in a bank account.
2. Stop being so hard on yourself
All you can do is your best, and what will be, will be. You can't be perfect, and holding yourself and others to that standard is not only unrealistic, but it's detrimental. Nothing good can come from having standards that are too high. This summer, we won the Bronze Medal. No, we weren't in first place, but you know what? That Bronze is Gold to me. I am not walking around saying, "What if?" - I am walking around with my head held high. We did our best and I couldn't be prouder.
When I watch my kids as they navigate life, I can't wait to support them and let them know that, no matter the outcome, that I support them in all their pursuits. I can't wait to teach them to learn from the past, and to also move on and focus on what they can do in the present to be better. After all, no one is perfect.
3. It doesn't matter what happens
What matters is how you react to what happens. Sport teaches that best. There are so many unknowns. The game doesn't stop when someone who is batting .067 hits a home run off of me. Nothing in life is predictable, and the more we can train ourselves to react in a way that brings positivity versus a complete meltdown, the better.
I haven't been the best at this as a mom. My patience has been shot and I have tended to "blow up" at times. Then, after the dust settles, I look back and have major feelings of guilt. Everyone is safe. The house didn't burn down. We have food to eat. More than anything, this summer reminded me that things happens. It doesn't matter WHAT happens. It matters HOW I react. And I am trying to be better at this.
My summer has really allowed me to look in the mirror and remember some pretty important lessons. As I said, these lessons aren't crazy. It is just normal mom-life stuff. I just was able to live them through an avatar - one without kids for the summer - and then when I got home, they hit me like a ton of bricks. Now, I am trying to bring them into everyday life.
Now, hold on while I CALMLY go into the kitchen and explain to my son why I asked him not to get the glitter out while playing spin art. Breathe, Lauren. It'll be OK. Even an entire tube of glitter that is everywhere on his body and all over the room can be cleaned up.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on TrAkAthletics. It has been modified and republished here with permission.