You Got To Know When To Hold Them

Let go of what no longer serves you. Unbeknownst to me, this meme was served up in my Instagram feed at a time I needed to hear it more than ever. It seems obvious and as someone who is regularly evaluating who and what needs to go in my life to ensure there’s space for what matters, I found myself nodding along like a gold star teacher’s pet.

A day later, I’d find myself having a minor panic attach over an imaginary problem that reminded me, when it comes to dealing with my stuff, I have a long way to go. As for where this epiphany happened – an all-day 5th Grade Traveling Basketball Team tournament.

My kiddo is at the age where relationships are easy. He tends to make friends in whatever random local we find ourselves – a pick-up game of football in Jackson Square during Spring Break, a Chicago skate park, or strangers at the trampoline park to initiate a dodgeball or slam dunk contest. I’m always amazed at his courage. Definitely a proud mama moment.

So, imagine my surprise when the Poplar Wolves landed at their first tournament and I found myself anxious. Not anxious about whether my kid’s team would win (that’s a whole different column). But instead, anxious about my kid fitting in. Jake isn’t new to basketball but his teammates were all new to him and hailed from the other elementary school in our district. And, despite knowing in my head, he’d find his way, my Mama Bear mode was on high alert, worried that those kids wouldn’t like him. Worried that they were already connected and my kid would be the outsider. That it’d result in him hating basketball. In believing he wasn’t enough. And down the rabbit hole of crazy I went as I watched my kid happily run around shooting hoops and playing catch in-between games with his new found team mates.

At first glance, this might sound dramatic. But, I’ve come to learn these feelings didn’t come out of nowhere. I distinctly remember my middle school basketball team where my shoes came from Payless Shoe Store. Where my quirky, extra self was a bit too much for the team. Where, despite having friends on the team and a decent shot, I never quite fit in. I did quickly abandon the sport, recognizing that the Nike hi-top sneakers needed to be successful in my school weren’t in my budget. It was an easy decision because I had endless passions in middle school, but that sting has stuck with me for decades. I often find myself wondering how much of that alienation was real versus imagined. If the shoes would have even made a difference.

Perhaps, this is why I bought my son 3 pairs of Stephen Curry shoes (from the outlet mall). Perhaps, this is why I felt so angst on that chilly Saturday morning. Perhaps, that is why the universe sent me that meme via some complicated algorithm. Regardless, I took home an important lesson that day regarding moving on. And for those wondering, my kid did make friends and loves basketball, and could care less which shoes he wears.  

Motherhood is filled with moments of angst. Wanting what is best for your kid. Wanting to protect and steer and guide your kid to whatever will bring him joy, while not smothering him. It is a fine line. It is also a world I’m finding brings up all kinds of nonsense from one’s youth. Lessons learned about how the world works but at some point, no longer useful. So today, I offer you the same advice in hopes it helps, let go of what no longer serves you.

If you enjoyed this and want to hear more in the future, please consider subscribing to my e-newsletter here.