August 15, 2011 by David Gillaspie
“Not much else in life compares.”
In this excellent guest post, a Wrestling Mom tells what she learned from the mats. Pass this along, as I will her blog when she starts posting, and think about your guest post.
(I included the book because I like it and Terry Davis is a friend of DG’s B&B.)
Really breathe and make it work for you, not the automatic breathing that keeps you alive.
When I had my kids, I discovered through the miracle that is Lamaze, that focusing on your breathing will get you through nearly anything.
I’ve used it ever since to get me through everything from a tough day at work, to relaxing enough to turn my mind off for sleep, to avoiding a tearful breakdown during the Puffs Plus commercial.
My oldest son is smaller than most. He weighed eighty six pounds dripping wet when he tried wrestling for the first time as a 7th grader. It had been a couple of years since he’d been involved in a sports; the size differential got to be too much for football.
Baseball bored him, even though he showed promise there. So I was relegated to watching his younger brother play baseball and basketball, sighing with resignation that my oldest might not play sports anymore.
I encouraged him over the years to try youth wrestling because I knew he was scrappy and had a good temperament for the sport.
He declined. I let it go until he wanted to check it out as a 7th grader.
What was I in for? I thought I knew. I watched a few wrestling matches in high school and even kept score for the team as a sub on a couple of occasions. I felt well versed enough to venture into this new world with him.
I would pick him up from the practices, showing up early to watch them doing their drills and super-tough conditioning, which impressed me in an “I don’t want to know too much about this” sort of way.
Here I was, after all, a single Mom trying to let her son go through the rite of passage of the Men’s Locker Room on his own, without too much Mom-volvement. I knew the coaches would take care of him, and not push him past his limit. They wouldn’t do that, would they?
That crazy neck exercise I couldn’t bear to watch is good for him, right? Just breathe…Coach has it covered, Mom.
What I would later learn was that his first match would nearly be the death of me.
Not him, me.
He struggled with his grades, as many 7th graders do, and missed the first couple of dual meets. He got his grades up, but for the next two, he didn’t wrestle because there was no one in his weight class. I missed one or two for work, and the short Middle School season was nearly over.
Talking it over with Coach, he mentioned that there was a tournament coming up, and assured me I’d be able to watch my son wrestle then. Finally! And then a sigh of relief!
I was so excited as I was preparing for what I was sure to be the best day of my sports-Mom life in recent memory. I knew how hard my son was working on his grades and in the wrestling room. I happily made my dish for the “team table” the night before, charged up the batteries in the video camera, and packed my first ever Wrestling Mom Tournament Bag complete with Advil, a good book, and granola bars.
I was ready!
I found my way to the school on the frozen Michigan roads, and was just this side of literally chirping with excitement.
The huge gym I walked into was full to the brim with screaming people and wall to wall wrestling mats.
What? How was I ever going to find my son? When does he wrestle? (No one seemed to know.) Where do I find out what time he’s going? (No one knew.) How come no one can tell me when he’s wrestling? (Because they just can’t?)
This was not what I expected at all! You’d think with such a big tournament there’d be a little organization! How can there not be a schedule?
Just breathe, you’ll find your way around, and it will all work out.
As I was wandering around confused and disoriented, like I had entered a different dimension, I wondered how I’d ever make sense of this. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my son’s father jogging toward me. (This man never hurries…for anything.)
“He’s getting ready, he’s going to wrestle in about two minutes!” He huffed.
“What? Where? What? Where do I go?” I felt so helpless!
I followed him blindly to a seat with a perfect view of my son’s upcoming match. Where is he? Oh, there he is, at that table…ok, good.
Excitement is returning at this point, and I breathe another sigh of relief.
Knowing how I get at my boys’ sporting events, I told myself to keep calm and not scream. We are indoors, after all. I even asked my son prior to this day if I could cheer for him.
“No” was of course, the answer.
Keep calm, don’t scream, don’t embarrass him. Got it. Be calm and breathe.
After my son and the other boy put on their ankle cuffs and lined up, the ref blew his whistle and the two went at it.
They circled each other a couple of times, and then wham! My son took his kid down. They fought. And they fought. And they fought. The other boy never got up, or what I would later learn, escape.
My son ended up pinning him after wearing him out with some hold I still don’t know the name of, the ‘Butcherman’s Passout-Choke Hold of Death’ I believe. (Kind of illegal, my son told me later, but the ref didn’t call it, and it was working).
As it turns out, I didn’t need to remind myself to verbally behave because I was having a hard enough time reminding myself to breathe. About 30 seconds into the match, I realized I hadn’t even taken a breath. I thought I might pass out myself! I was white knuckling my purse and about all I could do was blurt out my sons’ name every 10 seconds or so.
This of course was extremely helpful.
I have still to this day never experienced anything quite like the intensity of a wrestling match.
After three seasons I feel like a seasoned wrestling Mom , and keep checking the calendar to see if it’s November yet, excited for my fourth.
It’s almost inexplicable, the feeling you get when watching your son wrestle.
Whether he’s winning or losing, it’s always the same. It’s a crazy mixture of fright, adrenaline, pride, agony, happiness and/or sorrow.
And you run that gamut over and over; anywhere from 20 seconds (or less) to three long, agonizing periods that could last the longest nine minutes of your life.
That’s your heart and soul out there on the mat, giving his whole heart and soul.
Not much else in life compares.
And even though I’m a self-proclaimed ‘seasoned wrestling Mom’, I still have to remind myself to breathe.