I didn’t expect to be here…
In April 2013, I signed my daughter and myself up for a Mommy and Me gymnastics class. It was my mom guilt that brought me to the class to find a way to bond with my daughter since I spent so many hours away from her at work. Mommy and Me turned into toddler class, which moved to preschool class and just as I was thinking about pulling my little one from gym because she was “outgrowing baby gym,” we were introduced to pre-team at 4 years old. We went from one 45 minute class per week, to two 90 minute classes per week and here we are, 5 years later clocking 18 hours in the gym per week.
My daughter is a competition gymnast.
I’m sure some of you’ve seen the Women’s Gymnastics Finals and Summer Games Trials over the past few weeks, and you may wonder what the time commitment could possibly be for these athletes or what the road to the Summer Games looks like. Well it looks like your 8 year old working out in the gym 4 days per week. It looks like homework being completed on the commute to practice and dinner being eaten on the way home. It looks like her younger sibling spending countless hours in the car as you shuttle your athlete to and fro. It is hours in the car traveling to 6-8 competitions per season, hundreds of dollars for monthly gym fees, private lessons, practice gear, and sparkly competition uniforms.
Dedication to any sport is a family commitment. It comes with a sacrifice from each family member to support the dreams of a budding star. It is cheering them on from uncomfortable bleachers, sleeping in the car as we wait for practice to end, and forfeited family vacations because travel and PTO is reserved for competition season. In all of this, I sometimes wonder if it is worth it, but as I sit exhausted in the driveway at the end of a Tuesday night listening to my daughter as she beams with pride as she explains how she has mastered yet another skill, I remember why we do it.
I know there are risks associated with such a dangerous sport. Yes, she is often covered in bruises and hands covered in blisters, but the benefits continue to outweigh the risk. My daughter is STRONG, she is confident, she know how to overcome failure, she is goal oriented and she has better time management than most adults. Gymnastics is a special sport. You don’t just compete in gymnastics, you become a gymnast. It is a part of your identity, it is your pride and joy, you live and breathe it every day without a second thought. That Mommy and Me class back in 2013 changed our lives, and I am so proud of where my gymnast is today.