When Failing Makes Them (Me) Better...At Least I Hope


Our daughters, also known as The Security Detail, were victorious this past weekend. We always want our kids to win, but sometimes they have to fail. THAT'S what makes them stronger. While the outcome was different than expected, we are still very proud. We, as parents, do not support "participation medals." It gives the wrong idea to the recipient. We believe in, "you get what you put into it." If you are a parent who has children in a sport they are dedicated too, tell me you understand.

   In between the journey of trying to start, make, and succeed with a business, I play another role, and that is Mom. I am Mom to two young ladies. Two very different young ladies. One who is a "mini-me" and another is a "mini sister-in-law." Both are very different. Different in personalities, attitudes, and looks. For years when they were little, I'd have people ask if they were cousins or even half-sisters. I'd have to say all the time, "nope, they are sisters. Same baby-daddy". Their quest for dreams, friendships, and life are even different.

   Like we see with many older siblings, they pave their way, finding what they like, what they do not like. Experiencing life firsts. Firsts in successes, failures, experiences, and even broken hearts. And just as typical of the first sibling, the second is running fast behind, trying to not only catch up but to keep up.

  I never wanted them to be treated the same. I wanted each to have their own light to shine. I never liked it when it was one's birthday, and the other got a gift too, "so they wouldn't feel bad." Dang that bugged me. That's not life. You can't always be the center of the circle. Sometimes you have to let that light shine on someone else, to give them a moment.

   When our youngest (Security Detail 2) began Taekwondo, I put her in because she was a loner. Happy at home. I could have cared less about playing with other kids. She was comfortable at home. But she was started TKD, and within three weeks, I saw a whole new kid emerge. She had spunk and confidence (I knew she had all that and viewed at home but never in public). Now it was there. Our oldest (Security Detail 1) had no interest in TKD- or so she said. That surprised me as she had/has that "golden touch" when it comes to sports. It seems to have the hang of it, whatever she does, and quickly.

   I think Security Detail 1 was intimidated. I didn't know that that kind of fear could be genetic. Oh ya, I have a big mouth, but boy, I can get intimidated easily. But one-day, Detail 2's instructor made Detail 1 join the class. That was it, Detail 1 was hooked.

     Fast forward four years (yes, four years), and now The Details are into competing. Competing in TKD takes on a whole new spectrum than just showing up for class, participating, and even testing for belt colors and ranks. It takes hours of training and more than just showing up to class. It takes practice at home, private lessons, and more training. Detail 1 is aggressive in the ring. She listens. When she's mad, she turns that towards her opponent. She looks to instruction, takes to heart her mistakes, and works to make them better. 

   Detail 2 is a little...well A LOT different. I often wonder if it's the "baby of the family" mentality. I swear, I try to cut the cord, but I'll be darn she re-attaches it! I swear, not me, her. I can be hard...maybe harsh. Growing up, I was in a lot of sports, and I often got a lot of parental "constructed criticism," but let me tell you, it sure didn't feel constructive. It freaking hurt and did follow up (or better yet start with) what I could have done differently to do better. It was given without being asked. In times when building up would have been better, it was given and took me down. I promised I wouldn't do that this time, with those two. 

    But...I think that made me a little more "hard" and less sensitive. Not something I am proud of, but hey I am working on it, I swear. I am pretty sure I could be a *Tiger Mom if I don't keep myself in check. Before you wonder what a Tiger Mom is, just read below.

Tiger parenting is strict or demanding parenting. Tiger parents push and pressure their children to attaining high levels of academic achievement or success in high-status extracurricular activities such as music, using authoritarian parenting methods

Ya, that is me...could be me....can be me. Hey, in my defense, I figured if I was going to put that much money into a sport (because TKD is NOT cheap) that dammit, I want results! Well the husband, how should I say it, put me in check real quick. I don't want to crush what they enjoyed. I swear, I don't. But if you're going to train and compete, then why not give it 100%? 

    I know, I know, they are young. Don't get me wrong, I know they are not training for the Olympics (Lord I hope not- I cannot afford that...I already told the husband he'll have to start stripping if they want to train for the Olympics). But TKD is a commitment. Detail 1 even decided to homeschool this year to train more for TKD. She likes the metals, wants the titles. But not Detail 2, well, she is cut from a different cloth. We have always said she danced to her own tune. She doesn't care about titles. But let me tell you, she likes the metals. So here we are now six years into this sport. Countless thousands of dollars and hours into training and probably the same in miles for traveling. Notice I didn't say that about training. Well, Detail 1 puts in the training (not as much as I think she could if she's homeschooling- but Tiger Mom will be quiet). Security Detail 2, lord, help me. 

   Tiger Mom seems to bust out of the cage more with her. She wants the accolades without the work. How do I teach and encourage her to train, to want to train?   She's a kid. How far and hard do I push? It's hard when tournament time comes around, and she doesn't get the metal or place she wants. Then the tears and frustrations flow. I feel bad. For a few years, I was broken-hearted for her. Sad to see her feeling left out, metal-less while her sister and friend racked them up. To see the bottom lip quiver as she tried to hold it together through ceremony after ceremony, tournament after tournament, coming home metal-less. Be a kid, but practice more. Enjoy your childhood, but give up your weekends to practice...

   Where do I draw the line as a parent? Where do I draw the line as a business owner? There's guilt if I come home from a show and do not jump right back into working (and actually clean and do laundry). There's guilt if I don't work 24-7 as my "office" is right downstairs. But then I don't break to be mom, to be a wife...to breathe for myself.  

   Now, grrrr...the Tiger Mom squeaks through and struggles to sympathize. Trust me, I want to hug her, make the pain go away. But if I lie to her, do I give her false hope? For real, she's my kid, I totally get it. I am sad for her, but in reality, life is tough. If you don't put in the hours and hard work, don't expect the top results, right? I swear this is all related to me and my business. Sometimes I am long-winded. I will get there (I think).  

    Each Detail has their own journey through TKD. Both love the sport, but for different reasons. One has the eye of the tiger, the other is not quite there. She has tasted the blood of success but hasn't quite embraced the desire to train for the success of the battle. Losses are tough because they can only look to themselves for ended results...and that is hard. We live in a culture today that has molded into accepted the idea of blaming the surroundings instead of the true self. This sport will make you, it will humble you, or...you will leave.

  We are proud of these young ladies, it has been 6 years. Their choice, not ours. They both could have advanced their ranks for (in my opinion) bragging rights, but it would be at a cost. They've watched their classmates, many who for years were lower in rank, surpass them. Why? To train, to get better, to be better. 

   I can be a "tiger mom." So my journey is restraint, support, honesty, love, and of course, hugs. Tough, burly dad; he comes in softer with strong arms. We always want our kids to win, but sometimes they have to fail. THAT'S what makes them stronger.

   Detail 1 struggled this weekend at our most recent tournament. It's hard, too, when she has put in the time and hours. Long story short, I cannot say it's a rut she is in, but she seems to be having a Groundhog Day for the last three tournaments per the results. She is struggling with the mountain she has to climb. While she got 3rd place (and that is good), she was not happy. She was frustrated. For Detail 2, she started the tournament struggling, tears flowed early. We talked (I wouldn't coddle). She's quicker to cut herself down. That hurts and is hard to hear. She competed in three categories. She watched two categories go by. Four girls, three with metals, her with nothing.  

   Then came what she did train for, what she had been practicing for..her final category. Granted, she has not practiced the way she should/could, but she has put in some time. She stood next to another girl and said, "Well, at least I'll get third" (as there were only three competing). I heard her and pulled her aside. "No ma'am,' I said, 'you go in with a positive attitude. You have to go in thinking you deserve this. You've worked hard. Believe in yourself". Wide-eyed and bottom lip quivering, she nodded and walked up to the mat. She went first and did great. The mom in me cheered! I was proud. Shush Tiger Mom! Girl 2 and girl 3 took their turns. Dang, they were good...strong. Ok, she'll be happy to have a metal. But in my heart, I will know that she will wonder if she deserved it.  

   Results time...three judges, three girls. First place...all hands point to Detail 2! Oh, the look on her face (I am pretty sure I had the same look). I know, I know. Shame on me for not believing in my own words. She started tearing up. She looked at me. She looked at me... Tiger Mom, you can take a seat today. Detail 2 will revel in her glory, and you will not ruin it.  

   So how does this relate to business? In my head, I think it's about the journey, about taking the time to recognize the effort you (I mean me) put into it. I have to reflect on what I have done well and not what I have done wrong. Also what I could better with for the future. I will recognize Detail 1 and 2 and what they do right. I will reflect on what I could do better with the next show or next product. I will ask each Detail to self reflect (as oppose to offering what I think they could do differently) and with hopes guide them in their thoughts of improvement. Do I Tiger Mom myself? You bet. They say we are our own worst critics, right? I will continue to work on myself and recognize what is going well and good things that happen to myself and my business.  

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