This weekend marked the end of the gymnastics season for my girls. They both finished the season strong scoring personal bests on more than one event. After the meet I ran into the grocery store to buy some brownie mix to celebrate and I was literally beaming from ear to ear. I felt like I wanted to tell everyone I saw about my girls success.
I restrained myself though.
However, I do want to record my emotions and thoughts on here to look back on later. Because I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to forget the way my 6 year old literally counted down the days to states. She was so excited. The morning of states she was up on her own at 6 am bouncing into our room saying, “It’s states! It’s states!” You would have thought it was Christmas morning. Every time I looked at her at the meet, she was smiling. Ear to Ear. During every warm up, every run down to the vault… she was having the time of her life and I was so grateful. I am so grateful she has found something she loves so much and she has the opportunity to participate in it. I love watching her do gymnastics.
I learned so much about her this year. This was her first season competing and when the season began I actually wondered if she would enjoy it. That seems funny to me now, given how much she obviously loves it. So many things come easy for her, I wondered if she would still enjoy gymnastics when she had to work hard for it. What I learned about her blew me away. Beneath her bouncy, smiling personality is an incredibly driven little girl. She sets goals for herself. And she’s not afraid to set big goals and work for them. She’s also not afraid to say those goals out loud. When you set a big goal and you say it out loud, it means that you leave room for failure. She is not afraid of failure. Before her first meet she declared she wanted to get an All Around Trophy at States. That is quite a lofty goal. She worked hard for that goal. The first meet came and she didn’t get a single medal. I wondered how she’d take that. She took it like a champ. Her sister walked away with a few medals and she came home with none. She didn’t whine and cry about it. Though I did see a few quiet tears welling in her eyes, she told me that her eyes were just watery. And I let it go, giving her a big hug and telling her how proud of her I was. As the season progressed, so did she. She had many successes and medals. She got better and better. She still had her eyes on an All Around Trophy though.
At the trophy meet in March, both girls had HUGE successes. My 8 year old had the best meet of her life, scoring 4 9’s and several personal bests. She even placed second in the All Around. My 6 year old finally got an all around trophy, also placing second All Around. It was a banner day for them both. Though she still had yet to place first on anything and still yearned for an All Around trophy at states.
States came and my 6 year old was a smiling, bouncing bundle of joy. She started on floor and scored her highest ever score on floor, a 9.425!!! I couldn’t believe it. From there she went to vault and did respectably… it wasn’t a personal best, but it was a good score. Then she went to bar where she did a solid bar routine… not a personal best, but one of her highest scores. She was putting together a solid meet but had to finished on beam. Beam is a tough one. I feel like so much of it is mental as well as physical. All year long she has sold out on every beam leap and jump resulting in beautiful elements but, with the risk came occasional falls. I was soooo nervous. She sold out yet again… and she did beautifully!! When she finished, I was so proud and so happy. When awards came, we learned she had earned 1st place on beam!!! She finally got her first place medal… She got to stand at the top of the podium for the first time at the Maryland state championship! Tears filled my eyes as I knew how badly she wanted it and how hard she had worked for it. She ended up with 4th place on floor (with her personal best score), 7th place on bar and 5th place all around with her personal best AA score!! It was a fabulous end to her first season. I have little doubt the all-around state trophy goal will live on to drive her next year.
I was emotionally drained after that meet… only to take a breath and get ready to watch my 8 year old in her meet. My 8 year old also loves gymnastics. She is more reserved than her sister… you aren’t going to see her grinning ear to ear. You have to watch her carefully. I can tell she’s enjoying it by that twinkle in her eye. Her smile though not as broad is still there. She loves the team aspect of the sport, which I was surprised by this year. She cares very much how her team as a whole does. She is also an incredibly hard worker. She doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve. She has grown tremendously this year. This season marked her first taste of victory in the sport. This season she scored her first ever 9. Then she had her first meet with more than one 9. Followed by one meet where she scored a 9 in every event. She had her first time on the medal stand, multiple times. She came home with an all around trophy three times this year. She enjoyed that greatly, but one thing I learned about her as I watched her these past two years is that she loves gymnastics for gymnastics sake. Win or lose. Medal or not… she just loves doing it. I honestly feel she had just as much fun this year when she came home with medals and trophies as she did last year, when she didn’t always come home with one. She is a crazy hard worker. And I truthfully think she is stronger than me both physically and mentally. She can compartmentalize in a way that amazes me for an 8 year old. At states she started on bars and it wasn’t an awesome start. She messed up and scored lower than what she has been getting recently. (One cool thing about this is that her current low is so much higher than her personal bests of last year). After a disappointing start she went on to beam… Like I said before I feel like beam is such a mental challenge. She was focused and driven. She did a beautiful beam routine… she tied her best beam routine of the season and ended up placing 3rd. I was so happy for her. She then went to floor and did her second highest floor routine of the season! She finished strong on vault with her personal best score of a 9.425!! She ended up placing second on vault, 3rd on beam, 5th on floor and 7th all around. It was a wonderfully strong finish to a season in which I saw so much growth in her.
I am proud of my girls win or lose. Succeed or fail. Truthfully, sometimes I am more proud of how they handle their failures than I am when they succeed. You learn a lot about yourself when you don’t get what you want. And I learned a lot about my girls as I watched them grow this season. One of the toughest things for me this season was trying to balance both girls successes and failures on the same day. I felt like sometimes our celebrations for one girl were slightly muted as we wanted to not rub one’s success in the face of the other. That was hard to do. While there were some difficult times and some growing experiences, overall I think they balanced the challenge of competing together on the same level quite well. Thankfully there was only 1 meet in which they competed actually against each other.
I am so grateful that the girls have found something they love so much. It is so fun to watch them practice and compete. I am grateful they have something they both love and they love doing together. Every day they are out flipping on the trampoline, twirling on the bar, walking across the living room on their hands or vaulting on the couch…. together…. I am grateful for that. I am so very proud of how much they grew over the season…. not just in skills but in character. They are stronger now than they were at the beginning of the season…physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I have learned so much about each of them just by watching them practice, compete, succeed, and fail. They are stronger than I ever realized.
Look at that goofy smile on my face… I was ridiculously giddy.