For the Mom Consumed with Tryouts

It seems to be the month of tryouts and contests. I don’t remember February being so stressful before.

Of course when our son, the oldest, was in school he tried out for all the sports teams. There wasn’t one big make it or break it moment, rather a series of “break its”. He survived, and just as science tells us that broken bones grow back stronger, so did he. I was just thinking the other day how grateful I am that his reaction to disappointment has matured.

Call me strange, but I was relieved when our middle, Hallie decided that she didn’t want to try out for anything; not twirling, not basketball, not student council or UIL.

Her indifference to belonging to a team (or maybe even her decision to abstain from risk-taking) kept me from the worry that she’d be disappointed when the results seemingly weren’t in her favor. Of course we both learned that you can’t avoid rejection. You often won’t be picked in life, even if you don’t tryout.

Rylie, our youngest, has a difficult nature in that she has her father's boldness and sense of adventure and my tenderness. This means that she tries everything (non-rhythm related) and then gets temporarily broken up when her attempts don't result in social victory.

UIL contests and track tryouts are happening this week. Some kids will take home an excellent ribbon or news that that they earned a spot on one of the relay teams. Other kids are getting in the car after school with a brave face to initially hide the fact that their efforts weren't enough.

I'm not sure, though, that the stakes are anywhere so high this week (and last) as for those who are trying out for the school's dance team or cheerleading squad. I've learned in nearly eight years of living here in Nederland that dance particularly (and I suppose cheer too) come in size 4T. The hope to dance or cheer someday, before your entire community, starts young and grows wild.

I doubt many young girls dream of breaking the school's long jump record or earning a place on the school's science team, but many do dream of donning those famed white boots the Westernaires wear. Many a first grader practices a cheer jump in hopes of someday finding her place on the sidelines at football games. I get it.

I know so many faithful moms who give generously to support their daughters' dreams; taking them to dance class fifty days a year (many, double or triple that). They encourage their girls with a happy recognition of their giftedness. They do everything in their power to prepare them to be successful (as do moms of boys and non-dance girls).

Last week there were a lot of anxious and disappointed moms. This week's the same, because moms know that hopes and dreams don't always become reality. What we see as preparedness and giftedness isn't always reflected on the score card. Your kids name may not end up on the team list.

I don't have a daughter trying out, but I do know the sting of that rejection from my own middle school tryouts for drill team. I also suffered the weight of delivering disappointment to hopeful-faced middle school girls one year when I hesitantly agreed to serve as junior high cheer sponsor.

My heart goes out to those of you whose daughter has tried out, or is trying out. I can imagine that you're a ball of angst, or if your daughter received hard news last week, that you're still staggering from the blow. Your pain is equal to her fear or sorrow (or both) times two. A Mom heart, like the womb, gets stretched, and carries more.

Just know that I'm praying for you this week. I'm thinking, in my own relatively comfortable state, that these difficult hours will be in your rear view mirror in time. Your opportunity to respond to your daughter's disappointment or victory won't be nearly as long as the time you had to prepare them for tryouts. I'm praying that you'll use those important hours to re-instill in her the value she has, that stands with or without a spot on the team.

I'm hoping that you'll tow the line in showing her she's treasured without promoting a sense of self-importance, instead inspiring a gracious spirit inside your already gifted girl.

This might be your hardest, yet most important work yet.

Cheering for you and your daughter (awkwardly on the sidelines),

A fellow mom with two daughters full of hopes and dreams

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 1 Corinthians 4:7

4 thoughts on “For the Mom Consumed with Tryouts

  1. Sherilyn Goodman

    I enjoyed reading this even though I have grown sons! I looked back and remembered those football and band days. It is very hard to learn how to handle the disappointments without a sense of failure. To grow in grace in the face of loss.
    Continue bringing such things to the light of the One who calls us ‘precious!’

    1. Cathy Courtney

      Another for you book for moms (dads, even). Hope and pray you are still working on this! you so much and are so thankful for this gift of beautiful, insightful, encouraging, inspiring, guidance that God has given you for parents and their children! Cathy

    2. Kristi Burden

      Post author

      You’re so right. The disappointments are hard for the kids and the moms to handle. But for the grace of God...


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