I never thought I would say this, but I am a cheer mom.
I always thought I was better suited as a soccer mom, but as it turns out, cheerleading isn’t what it was when I was growing up. I am amazed and impressed with the physical stamina and fearless nature of the tumbling machines I know. On any given day, there are no less than four of those machines working on their skills on our backyard trampoline and tossing my baby girl way too high in the air. I don’t know if I will EVER stop gasping when she flies.
I am also fortunate to be surrounded by a different group of cheerleaders. The premise is the same – they cheer me on with their words, lift me up with their strength, and when I need some tough love, they flip me upside down until I land where I need to.
There are, of course, the more obvious cheerleaders in my life, like my husband and my kiddos. My hubs never deters me from trying something new, no matter how hair-brained my latest scheme may sound to him. “You can do it, and you can do it well,” he says. There MAY be the infrequent occasion when his encouragement to exercise is met with daggers (from my eyes, of course), but I know that his words are well-intended.
And I can’t even begin to fully express how the faith my children put in me livens my soul and amplifies my confidence. Knowing that those sweet little people think I can do anything in the world renews my mommy magic every single time.
There are also others who probably don’t know the critical role they’ve played in my life, turning stepping stones into turning points along the way.
As I mentioned in my past entry, I married very young. I wasn’t one of those 20-year-olds who thought I knew everything, but rather, quite the opposite. I was pretty sure that this marriage and parenting gig should most certainly come with a handbook like Marriage for Young Dummies, or at least a brochure on how to not lock yourself out of the house/car nine times in your first year. Nine times. I guess I’ve always had trouble with my keys.
After my first child was born, when I was bumbling with breastfeeding and hovering over her constantly to make sure she was safe, fed, happy, alive (I guess having an infant brings out the helicopter mom in all of us), it was my mother-in-law, aka Milly, who spoke words of encouragement to me regularly. She told me more times than I can count that we were doing “pretty darned good,” and I remember initially receiving that compliment with complete shock. Not only did I feel like I was already messing up parenting in every way, but very few people had ever REALLY built me up before.
As I got a little older, my little sister did, too. When I turned 30 she dropped a HUGE bombshell – I was her hero.
And not only that, but she viewed me as almost perfect. ME? Bah!!! I laughed so hard I fell right off of that high pedestal on which she placed me. Once I picked myself up off the ground, I realized my insane laughter may have hurt her feelings, and that she had always been my number one cheerleader. I also suddenly felt an immense amount of pressure to live up to her perception. I knew that I could never achieve perfection, but her faith in me sure as heck made me want to try. Over the years somehow my sister and I have had a bit of a role reversal. I now look up to HER, even though I’m an inch taller, because she now sits on the pedestal. I admire and am inspired by her positive outlook on life, her loyalty and selfless parenting, and her mad organizational skills.
More recently, it has been my good fortune to be in the company of great women whom I admire for many different reasons. They are kind, positive, life-speaking women with incredible strength and work ethic. And they encourage.
You see, I’m at a point in life where I’ve raised my first baby and sent her off into the big scary world, and I still have three more at home very active in their journey. I hit a slump after that first one left, and if we’re being honest, often wonder if I have enough quality parenting left in me to serve them all.
One of the aforementioned women I call the Encourager. I know that she was placed in my life at the exact moment in time I needed her most. In fact, I have a couple of those. But this lady came on the scene when I was depleted from the demands of life and my mother meter was in the red, and she lifted me up. “You’re doing a phenomenal job. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Look at your children…they are amazing. You did that.”
We all need cheerleaders in our lives and if you don’t have any, get some and get some fast! It makes all the difference. I truly believe now that what came naturally to my Milly as something that moms say to their children was critical to our marital success. My sister’s sibling adoration reminded me that people were watching and recognizing my efforts. Those words that flowed so genuinely from the Encourager immediately inflated me. They gave me a renewed sense of energy, which I poured into life, parenting, and myself, because the other thing she told me was, “You need to take care of you.”
More importantly than receiving praise, is giving it. Don’t forget to BE an encourager. It’s the fuel that keeps us all going, and whether we want to believe it or not, we are not superhuman and we cannot run on fumes alone. You don’t have to shake pom poms or have the ability to do a back handspring to encourage (although the recipient might enjoy those skills if you have them!). Stop and tell someone today they are doing a wonderful job at whatever it is they are doing. Maybe even find that one person that you think has it all together and tell her that she is rocking at life. I guarantee that she, like all of us, needs a base to fall back on and someone to lift her up and help her fly.
“You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down.” ~ Author unknown