A Mixed Bag: Performance Anxiety and Perspective with A Smile

AUTHOR: | POSTED: September 17, 2012 | COMMENTS: 3 Comments

Carolyn Savage

This weekend held a mixed parenting bag for me.  It started off all fine and dandy with a somewhat ill conceived trip to a high school football game–with all five kids.  I don’t know what possessed me to think taking the twins to a fall evening rite of passage was a good idea.  In fact, I knew it probably wasn’t going to be smooth sailing, but I had ulterior motives.  Two, to be exact.  The first was strictly self serving.  I wanted the hell out of my house. Having been a long day, with no human contact with anyone who wasn’t over the age of four and refusing to eat anything other than crackers, I craved the concept of adult interaction–even if it meant packing three bags of “what-if gear” and hauling it to a football stadium. 


What’s “what if gear”?  You know, all the crap a mom has to pack in the event a somewhat rare happenstance should occur.  Like…

What if Reagan pukes on herself in the car–EQUALS–extra set of clothes.

What if Reagan pukes on Isabella in the car–EQUALS–two extra sets of clothes.

What if somebody pukes on me in the car–EQUALS–extra clothes for me…or maybe just paper towels and Febreze depending on how much I care after getting puked on.


It took me thirty minutes to pack the damn car.  Two strollers, three bags, bottles, juice, clothes, coats, stadium blankets, crackers, more crackers, a case of water, and beer (for the ride home.  Hey!  It was brilliant.  I knew I’d need to numb the experience immediately upon escape!)


The other reason I wanted to go to the game was to see Drew announce his first football game.  As I’ve mentioned before, Drew is interested in jounalism.  Sports journalism.  So he was doing color commentary for the Titan Network.  (His school’s online radio broadcast.)  I wanted to mark the occasion with pictures, which predictably, he wasn’t thrilled about.  No worries.  I didn’t storm the press box to snap to my heart’s content.  Nope.  I was more stealth about it.  I just creepily lurked in the opposing team’s stands and nonchalantly took pictures of the press box.  Did I care that the fans around me thought I was high for taking pictures in the opposite direction of the game?  Not really.  Plus, I was doing this with three kids under the age of four in tow.  I’m sure they assumed  I probably needed to be high just to get through the evening.


But…I did get these!



That’s him..in the window on the left.



Right before he spotted me…then texted me to “get away”. Hah…too late Drew!


 Mission accomplished on both fronts.  I got my pics and was proud as punch *AND* talked to adults.  It was great…except for losing MK for a brief moment and Reagan eating rocks.  Other than those hiccups, everything went swimmingly!


Then came the mixed bag…


Saturday held a cross country meet for the boys.  This meet was conveniently in town which meant no travel, but led to my next dopey idea.  Since MK usually gets left behind for these meets, I thought it would be nice for her to see her big brothers run.  She could be the cheerleader.  We even made a sign..with glitter.  (Nope, glitter and a four year old is not my dopey idea.  It was semi-dopey, but since this isn’t my first time at the parenting rodeo, I knew enough to use the glitter outside. )


She worked hard…








Glitter adhered to her hands, hair, and was inside of her ears…


But the finished product was priceless. 



With a sign like that, her big brothers would run “lights out” for sure?  Right?


Um…not so much.  Which leads to the issue that kept me up part of the night on Saturday.  You see, Drew’s race was, as predicted,  lack luster.  He’s still recovering from his African parasite infliction.  It’s going to be a few more weeks until he’s back on par.  But, my Ry Ry, he’s perplexing.  He’s faster than fast during practices and workouts, but when it comes to these damn races, he’s faltering.  After Saturday’s race, he was very frustrated.  As we drove home from the meet, just him and I (as MK got sent home early with my parents mainly because she lost interest indicated by her high pitched screams of “I’m bored”…bringing her was a dopey idea!)  I struggled for words of wisdom.  I’m frustrated, too.  God it’s hard to watch your kids struggle and I don’t want to compound his anxiety by doing or saying the wrong thing.  So I put my hand on his shoulder as he slumped in his seat and held it there.  I was thinking, if I could just take this pain away…you know, channel it through my arm into my own body…I’d do it in a heartbeat.  But then, knowing frustrating experiences and disappointing outcomes are necessary to breed perseverance, I willed away any desires to rescue him from his angst. 


He’ll be stronger for having gone through this.


I did eventually come up with some words. 


Ryan,  I know what it’s like to give a life goal everything you’ve got.  To work harder, to do all the right things, and not have the outcome you’d hoped for.  The only thing I can tell you is that if you keep working hard…If you keep doing everything right…if you stay focused and remain positive…success will eventually come.  It just may take longer than you want.


He shrugged.  And the next morning, he got up and did a two-a-day to help his endurance.  I think he gets it.  I can only hope.




Parenting is tough sometimes.  Well, most of the time.  Watching my kids struggle is the hardest, and this past weekend had a lot of that.  But I’m so grateful for my own life and everything I’ve experienced.  If I hadn’t gone through some darker more frustrating times, I wouldn’t have been able to redirect my own concerns about Ryan’s performance anxiety, to the very fact that, although athletic performances are a big deal to my boys, there are worse things in life.  And, smiles to concentrate on…










Plus, what I said to Ryan is true.  Hard work and perseverance pays off. 


Drew (left) and Ryan (right) at the start.


Hopefully, sooner rather than later!                       


Hey…I am competitive, you know!




Fall is coming.  We are welcoming  a new contributor to Mama on The Fly tomorrow.  Watch for her craftastic talents.  She will start with sharing a beautiful fall DIY centerpiece.  Just wait until you see it!  It’s awesome! 





Now smile…





3 Comments on “ A Mixed Bag: Performance Anxiety and Perspective with A Smile ”

  • Marty Petersen | September 17th, 2012 12:28 pm

    You handled it so well Carolyn! How I can identify. Anxiety is very tough especially when we feel we aren’t meeting our expectations and that we want and we need to meet our goals – RIGHT NOW! Life is a journey -a marathon – I threw in a running analogy. A spirit of gratitude is something we as adults have trouble grasping so I am not sure if a teenager grasps gratitude. The biggest detriment is negative self talk – what I call noise – which limits us in opening our minds, our eyes, our senses and gratitude helps in opening all our senses and thoughts. Be grateful you can run; be grateful that you can compete; be grateful for today. And even though you may be down today, when you have the opportunity to do something you love and you are passionate, enjoy the moments, in competition, in practice -whether you feel it was terrible or it was great, you are blessed. You are a winner! A spirit of gratitude is needed to work harder, to work smarter, to compete and to have fun. God has great things in store for you! I think once a person “gets gratidude” it is amazing how life opens up. But what you said was perfect…at the right time,the right moment….you planted a seed.

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  • Melissa Reyes (Miz Meliz) | September 17th, 2012 9:55 pm

    My sons are 17, 15, and 12 and the best advice I ever got when I had a similar experience (my kids are all serious athletes) was to give time to each of them and really listen. Ask open ended questions and let the empty air dissipate if they don’t answer, don’t say anything. I tend to lecture and try and tie everything up in a neat little package. It’s hard to just listen and affirm. But once I started doing this with my oldest son, I realized that he comes to me to “just talk” more. I “just listen” and don’t give advice, it’s priceless.

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  • Lori Ray | September 19th, 2012 9:56 am

    Glad to know that my kids aren’t the only ones who prefer rocks to veggies. And the crackers…yes…we are experts at toddler crackers.

    Sorry…I’ve got nothing for the running anxiety. I’ll be eagerly awaiting other responses. I’m sure I’ll deal with this when my little ones are older!

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