I never thought I’d be that kind of mom, but turns out, I don’t know myself very well.
I told myself I wouldn’t be the kind who worried about her kid. That I’d let her be.
I wouldn’t stay by the phone all day, waiting for her to text me. That I’d go about my chores instead.
I wouldn’t wait to hear from her and then feel anxious if she didn’t call.
Well, guess who did ALL of the above today? Yeah, fine. You can laugh. But hear me out first. Plus, why I am glad that I actually was doing all of that.
This week, my teen daughter has been attending a sports tournament through her school. Each day she left home before 7 am and came home around 6 pm.
After 3 days, she finally got a chance to play her first match today and I was on all kinds of tenterhooks through the day.
Her dad and I agreed that she could have a cell phone so she could call us when she needed us to pick her up after the matches.
As I handed her the phone this morning, I told her she could text me at any time to update me on the day’s events.
First, she texted me half hour after she left, saying that she was on the way.
An hour later I got the next message, saying that she was at the venue and was ready to play in the next ten minutes. I texted her back, wishing her good luck.
Instead, ten minutes later, I was surprised to hear the phone ring. I picked it up and heard her choked voice on the other end. When I asked what was the matter, she told me that the order of play had changed and that she’d have to sit out the match instead. Someone else would play in her place.
The disappointment in her voice crushed me but I hid it and got into mom mode instead. I calmed her down, told her it was bad luck that it happened, but to cheer her team mate on. I said I knew she would do a great job of it too.
She sniffled a bit, said she would do that and hung up.
After about 10 minutes of pacing the room, I did what I always do: called MY mom. (Yeah, I’m that kind of daughter too)
We talked and mom agreed that I had done the right thing and this kind of event would actually help Gy, since it would teach her resilience, team work and facing disappointment.
I knew all of this already, but it’s always good to hear your mom saying the same things, am I right?
So, I hung up, feeling a bit better.
Only, now, I was sitting with the phone right next to me, waiting for it to buzz and my mind wouldn’t focus on anything else. Not on work, not on chores, not even on lunch.
Then, in about 30 minutes, I got another call from Gy. This time, she was positively in tears and all those maternal instincts leapt to the fore.
‘I lost,’ her voice quivered, the tears audible through the cell phone. ‘My first doubles match and I lost and now the team is out of the tournament. It’s my fault’.
While one part of me wanted to gather her in my arms and console her, it was obviously out of the question. So, I did the next best thing. I told her it was fine.
That people lost matches. That it was her first match. That she had played. THAT was the important thing. Now, she had to go and cheer the boys who were due to play next.
After she hung up, I took a deep breath and called my husband to inform him.
We then agreed that it was time for our ritual post any event/exam/school meeting. When he picked her up, he would take her out for celebratory ice-cream.
That’s right. We celebrate with ice-cream, irrespective of the outcome. Rewarding the effort instead of the result. 🙂
In the next 3 hours, she texted me every 30 minutes with an update:
‘Watching the boys match’
‘They’ve lost one match’
‘Another team is in the semis’
‘I don’t know when we’ll come home’
‘I’m missing you’
With each message, my heart became fuller and closer to bursting with emotion. Especially that last one.
Because, at some deep level, I have told myself that my priority would always be my family. They always come first- over work, over blogging, over e-mails, over social media.
But, I’ve doubted myself on this topic many times in the past, simply because I’ve felt that I am on my laptop or phone when I should be with the family. And it isn’t easy to admit, either.
It’s why I have been consciously absent from many, many social media interactions in the last few months.
That’s one reason I keep reading or sharing posts about digital minimalism often.
This was a very necessary reminder that when it comes to choices, family would always be on the top of my list, even without my planning for it.
And today, when my teen daughter texted me every half hour to keep me in the loop, share her downs and to say that she missed me, I was glad that I was that kind of mother.