The Joy is in the Journey
Last week would have been my mother’s 63rd birthday. I miss her often and think about experiences we shared often. I was the youngest of five boys, and soccer was my passion. Guess what, it still is today! When I reflect back on the times that I spent with soccer, my brain almost always goes to the journey my soccer career was and the time spent with my Mom. My mother had no clue about sports, I grew up on a farm and had to pay for 2 of my three teams through working on the farm. She however loved my soccer experience as well but mostly because the car rides were always engaging and we shared tons of time together.
When I think about the conversations I have with parents today they almost always go to “winning.” If we think about using the journey as an opportunity to bond with our children, we are winning. How many people have children that sit in the car the entire ride and SnapChat, Text, Facebook or Instagram? What I loved about my journey was the conversation I got to have with my mom during these 35-minute rides to practice 2 or 3 times a week. She became my best friend and we could talk about anything. Are you missing this chance with your child?
When my team went to tournaments or camps I remember trading soccer cleats and wearing theirs for the week and them mine. I remember playing soccer tennis in the dorm room or 1 v 1 in the hallways. I remember my soccer buddies sleeping at my house for the week instead of sleeping over at camp.
The joy for me as a reflect back about my soccer experience is the small moments both on and off the field. I had a player two weekends ago that got to sleep over in the city with just her mom because we played two games in that area on Saturday and Sunday. I imagine that experience was amazing. I know as a parent I often look for the individual time that I can have with each of my children. I hope that I get these types of chances with my children as they get older.
Another great story is of a player that got to go to Italy and experience playing against teams from other countries. The young man got to see different sites while he was there, play soccer and even watch a professional game. These experiences are amazing for the player and should be relished while they are happening!
I share these experiences with you to prove a point. Like me, it is not until our children get older that they will recognize how truly special this time is. As a parent, we go out of our way to do things for our kids and they may not appreciate today but they will in the future. If we are not careful and always looking at the result of the game and not the experience, we will miss these special moments with our kids. If your child wants to have a sleep over with a friend on a Friday night and the team has a game on the Saturday – don’t say no because you worry about how they will perform. Relish the fact that they are making memories at that sleep over that will be remembered way more than the result of that Saturday game. Next time you go on a car ride ask them to put their electronic device away and talk to you. Not about soccer but about life.
Looking back at how I grew my passion for the game, I openly acknowledge that my mom played a huge part in it. Not because she was helping me to become the best soccer player, but rather she was helping me to become a better person. I vividly remember a bus trip to Virginia Beach with my team and my mom like it was yesterday and I hold on to those special moments that bring me extreme joy. My hope for all of the parents reading this is that they don’t spend so much time looking to the future scholarship or game or result and forget about being present in the moment and enjoying the journey with our young children!