The End of the Lane: A Swim Mom’s Reflections

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When my oldest daughter, Shannyn, was just a few months old, I remember placing her in the little baby seat that helped keep her safe and propped up in the tub and watching her gleefully splash at the water around her. As a toddler, she liked to stand in the bathtub, fill up a bucket with water and pour it over her head. It was clear that she loved the water and as it turned out, the water loved her back. For nearly 17 years, “swimmer” is a word that has largely defined her, so last Saturday was a somewhat remarkable day. Last Saturday, she hung up her cap and goggles for good and Sunday, she officially became a retired swimmer.

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Living in California, near the ocean and with plenty of pools in our neighborhood, we knew water safety was of utmost importance, so at the tender age of 18 months, we took Shannyn to a local swim school for lessons. When she had mastered all four strokes by the age of five and still didn’t want to leave the pool, we signed her up for the swim school’s novice team.  At eight, the swim school told us it might be time to move her to a competitive swim club, as she was getting a bit fast for the novice meets. She was reluctant to move and leave the comfort of the school and many of her friends. She had always been a cautious child, slow to warm up to new situations. We waited a year, until she decided she was ready to take the plunge (sorry, pun-intended). Nearly ten crazy, grueling, exciting, emotionally exhausting and heart-wrenching years later, Shannyn graduated from high school and her competitive swim team, Conejo Simi Swim Club, and accepted a NCAA Division 1 swim scholarship to the University of Arizona.

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And Saturday, nearly four years later, we watched our Wildcat swim her last race. I am trying to find the words to describe what this journey has been like as a parent. I know for Shannyn, despite the hard work, the struggles, the commitment, the sacrifices and the disappointments, swimming has been one of the best things in her life.  For a long time, it WAS her life. Swimming has taught her so many critical lessons. Those who have never participated in athletics nor have had their children participate, often don’t understand the value, the challenges or the rewards of being a student-athlete. I remember a relative once asked me why Shannyn would commit all of this time and energy to a college sport if she had no interest in becoming a swim coach! In retrospect, this is the sort of thing you’d expect from someone who has no knowledge of, or appreciation for athletics. At the time, I just remember being a bit stunned, then defensive. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can answer that question quite easily:

  1. Being a college athlete paid for the bulk of her education. This is not the norm, so, of course, parents looking to place their children in sports purely to earn a scholarship are misguided. It was never the goal, but fortunately for our family, it happened. According to Scholarship Stats, only about 7% of high school athletes are granted the privilege of participating in their sport at the college level, with only 2% of those participating at the Division 1 level. In women’s swimming, the odds of getting any scholarship money are one in 31.  In just making it onto a college team, Shannyn beat the odds, and in earning a scholarship, she accomplished something extraordinary. She will graduate without debt – a huge (and sadly, rare) accomplishment in the U.S. today.
  2.  Being a college athlete has meant critical academic support and perks.  Free tutoring, expected study hall sessions and the pressure of a team for whom having a high, all-around group GPA is top-of-mind, has been invaluable to our daughter who was always a decent student, but needed a little extra support and push to become a good student. Being named student of the month for her GPA early in her academic career, then later, earning PAC-12 All Academic Honors and being named to the Dean’s List were accomplishments that I could not have foreseen had she not had the support athletics afforded her. And there were “fun” perks that also saved us dollars: free athletic clothing and shoes including those expensive fast suits and free admission to all of the sports on campus. Another benefit? Being respected on her campus by other athletic teams, students, coaches and faculty. Being a swimmer at U of A carries with it a sense of pride and admiration. Even Arizona football coach, Rich Rodriguez, when he first joined the University told his players that he would only be satisfied when they “worked as hard as the swim team.”
  3. Being part of a collegiate team meant having an “instant family”. While many freshmen struggle with finding their way around a big university and fitting in, Shannyn had an entire team behind her from the moment she committed to Arizona. The team became her peer group, her circle of friends, her family. The friendships and bonds these athletes create by showing up day after day to train and compete together are like no other and will stay with her for life.
  4. A college athlete gets to travel.  Throughout her swim career, Shannyn has had the opportunity to travel across the U.S. and to other countries to train and compete. From Indianapolis to Las Vegas, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Halmstad, Sweden, during both her club and college swim careers, she has had the opportunity to visit many places. I happen to believe that travel and the experience of other cultures is one of the best forms of education, so you might say that Shannyn has received “bonus” education on top of her academic experience.
  5. Being an athlete has taught her numerous life lessons and “the intangibles”. To commit to a sport, stick with it when times are tough and come out the other end, having experienced success and plenty of failure, is an incredible lesson in real life. For those who believe college is only of value for finding a career and making money, it’s a fact that employers love hiring student-athletes because they know that the critical skills these athletes have learned translate into a successful employee: Discipline. Commitment. Time Management. Leadership. Goal Setting. Persistence. Loyalty. Passion. One of my close friends and work colleagues was a swimmer at Long Beach State during his college years. Today, he is the very successful Chief Marketing Officer for a leading, publicly-held technology company. And he is not an isolated example.

Knowing that Shannyn was accumulating all of these wonderful benefits was useful because the swim parent experience has been an intense roller coaster ride. As parents, sometimes we want so badly to fix things for our children and in sports, you quickly learn you can fix almost nothing – your children have to own their athletic career and there is little you can do for them. But you also learn that this is ok. Even good. You see them struggle, you see them fail, you see them want something so badly, but often, not achieve it. You experience heartache and disappointment right along with them. Of course, you also experience moments of glory. You see them win. You see them succeed. You seem them set a goal and miraculously, reach it. You share your joy with the other parents because they know how hard your kids have worked for what they desire. And in either failure or success, you cheer them on. You are, forever and always, their biggest fan. I will never regret a moment that I spent driving to a pool early in the morning or late at night, sitting in a timing chair, running up and down a pool deck, washing towels upon towels, traveling to meets in far-away locations, spending too much money on expensive suits, getting more sunburns than I should have watching race upon race. I treasure the conversations in hotel rooms and cars, the moments of pure bliss watching a hand touch the wall, and even the times my heart broke a little – all lessons learned and put to good use. I will especially treasure the many friends made along the way: the other swim parents, the coaches, my daughter’s wonderful teammates. It has been one hell of a ride for our entire family.

People have asked me what our proudest moment was. When Shannyn first stood on a podium with a first place medal around her neck? When she made it to the 2012 Olympic Trials? When she was offered the spot at Arizona? When she earned her first Division 1 NCAA cut? These were all proud moments, to be sure, and represented hours of hard work and untold laps in the pool for Shannyn. But the proudest moment (or, really, set of moments) was watching her stick with the sport, even when times were not good. As one swim parent wisely told me years ago, “It’s easy to love swimming when you’re swimming fast”. Two years in high school spent on a plateau, without dropping any time in her best events, wondering if she would ever excel again, watching her fifth club coach in as many years leave, watching school friends enjoying their comparatively full social lives, Shannyn thought about quitting more than once. Admittedly, I had sometimes wished she would. It surely would have been the easier route. Instead, she continued to slog through nine practices a week, including three morning practices that began at 4:45am (and required a half hour drive to reach), before heading to a full day of school, homework and yet another two-to-three hour practice in the evening. She eventually broke through and achieved her dream of swimming on a top Division 1 college team.

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It’s the end of an era for Shannyn and for our entire family. Life without the identity of “swimmer” will be different, to be sure, but I have no doubt that the lessons learned have prepared her for whatever lies ahead. As with many athletes (and having changed her major twice), she will take an extra semester or two to graduate, to assimilate and transition into life as a “swammer”.

Although it’s the end of Shannyn’s swimming career, it is the beginning of the rest of her life and I know that while she will miss swimming, she is ready to move on. Truth be told, I will probably miss it more, but as fate would have it, our younger daughter, Claire, decided a few years back that she wanted to jump on the roller coaster, too, and is now determined to swim in college. So the journey of swimming is not quite over for all of us yet. Like her sister, Claire has already seen success and failure. She wants to be part of something bigger than herself and learn what it means to be a student-athlete. Despite the trying times and the sacrifice, I can’t think of a better path for her to take.

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And to Shannyn, I can only say: congratulations on reaching the end of your incredible swimming journey. In or out of the pool, I will always be your biggest cheerleader, your most stalwart supporter, your most ardent fan.

My Top Eight for 2014

UnknownAs cliché as it sounds, time does seem to move faster the older we get. It seems I was just starting to appreciate the positives of 2014 – not to mention, get used to writing a “4” instead of a “3” on my checks – when I realized the end loomed near.

Instead of writing New Year’s Resolutions, most of which have the tendency to get tossed aside within a few weeks of the New Year, I decided instead to write a note of appreciation for the highlights of 2014 – my top eight of 2014. These are in no particular order, as assigning a ranking to these would seem arbitrary (and so did making this a “top ten”, hence the less-than-round number of eight).

  • Daughter #2 got her driver’s license. In truth, this milestone ranks among both the most frightening and the most exciting events of 2014. To have our youngest become a licensed driver was certainly thrilling for her and a huge relief for us chauffeurs in the family who no longer had to plan work schedules and social events around high school and swim practice start and end times – not to mention, being on call for drop-offs and pick-ups at friends’ houses and social gatherings. We all gained independence, though in return, of course, had to battle the ever-present worry of having our little one navigating the L.A. freeways and crazy drivers on her own. At the end of the day, the freedom is a positive result for all.
  • My second favorite item of the year also involves daughter #2: Claire qualified for and participated in her first championship swim meet. When Claire told us she wanted to swim, we were surprised. Swimming was always her sister’s sport and her sister excelled at it. We’d never discouraged Claire from swimming, but never encouraged either, lest she have to compete with her sister or take on the burden of being “Shannyn’s little sister” in the pool. Despite our reservations, she decided to jump in with both feet – literally! She had setbacks almost immediately, tearing her labrum (not due to swimming, according to the doctors) and undergoing surgery just a year after joining our club team. She battled through the rehab, spending months in the pool just kicking, then slowly working to get her shoulder back into shape and resume swimming. She found herself behind most of her peers at that point, but insisted that she would move up to the next level (she did) and that she would finally make it to a championship meet. So it was with amazement and pride that we watched her this summer achieve her goals. Not only did she get her Junior Olympic time standards at a small meet in Santa Maria, but two weeks later, at the Junior Olympics meet that our club hosted, she bettered her times and made it back for her first JO finals and dropped time, once again in the finals competition. Persistence? Stubbornness? Probably a bit of both, with some hard work thrown in, but as a parent, it was a proud moment. Truth be told, even we doubted that she could do it, but fortunately, she never doubted herself.
  • After changing her major twice, Daughter #1 finally settled on her academic goals and can see the finish line. After many trials and tribulations, soul-searching and so-called epiphanies, not to mention the agony of having to take Microbiology and Organic Chemistry, Shannyn finally settled on a course of study that suited her. While she went in as a Business major (code for “I don’t know what the hell I want to do with my life”), she soon had a brilliant brainstorm that nutrition has always been her passion and becoming a Nutritional Sciences major was the path for her. Unfortunately, the self-declared “non-science person” quickly realized that this major required her to take – well, SCIENCE. After struggling through a semester of brutal classes like O-Chem that caused her GPA to suffer, she realized she needed to change course. The final epiphany (accompanied by some solid academic counseling) was that a major in Economics and a minor in Nutritional Sciences, would make the best use of courses already completed, while allowing her to pursue a career in marketing for the nutrition/fitness industry. Yes, she’ll go an extra year (thank you, continuing athletic scholarship), but she is happier, more focused and her GPA is back to its previous good standing.
  • Work travel was educational and fun. I’ve worked at home now for 20+ years and am thankful that I’ve had the ability to maintain a challenging and rewarding career with the flexibility to be available for my children. I love working from home, but there are times when I miss the “water-cooler” talk and close bonds that develop from being in an office. This year, I was able to not only pay a few visits to my key client in Silicon Valley, but to also travel with them to their annual customer and partner conference in Las Vegas. Whenever you can learn things that help you do your job better and, at the same time, have a blast with a group of smart and fun people, you know you’ve hit the jackpot, career-wise. I was grateful to participate in the four-day event, meet some of the employees, partners, customers, analysts and reporters I’d previously only communicated with via email or phone, and learn more about my client’s technology and how it’s being used in the real world.
  • Old friends came to visit. In a perfect world, we’d go abroad every summer as we did in 2013 when we visited Per’s family and friends in Sweden and spent a wonderful week in Paris, seeing the sights. But until we win the lottery, we’ll settle for visitors coming our way occasionally, as was the case this year when Per’s best friend from childhood traveled to Southern California with his wife and two children from their home in Oslo, Norway.
  • We’ve been able to continue traveling to see daughter #1 finish out her swimming career. It’s hard to believe that the toddler who took to the water like a fish at two is nearly twenty-two now. And that after almost 15 years of competitive swimming, it will all come to an end this Spring. I’m sure this will inspire a separate nostalgic and emotional blog post when it’s over. For now, suffice to say that I’m thankful for every trip I’ve made, every event I’ve watched from the side of a pool deck or bleachers of a stadium, and every hour of sitting in a timing chair, because I know it’s almost over. It has been an amazing ride, we have all learned so much, and made wonderful friends along the way. And most of all, I feel so fortunate for all the incredible benefits Shannyn has reaped from the sport – not just having her education funded – but the lessons of discipline and commitment, leadership, working through adversity, and the lifelong friends she has made. As we get ready for a few more trips between January and March, I will brace myself for the end and be grateful for the opportunity to witness it.
  • We have our health. Nothing more to say about this one. As you get older, you realize how lucky you are to escape each year without a serious malady and you’re thankful that you and your extended family are still healthy.
  • And finally, on a lighter note, no words needed for this one…you didn’t think I’d leave this out, did you?!
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Go Kings Go!

 

Happy New Year, everyone! What were your favorite moments of 2014?

Post Play-off Depression: It’s All About Connecting

UnknownWhen I was nine years old, my family moved to Atlanta, GA for a couple of years, settling into a lovely little apartment complex called Windy Hill Village, notable for nothing much but its proximity to downtown and the newly built Omni Center. The Omni Center was the home of the then-Atlanta (now Calgary) Flames hockey team. Because of its location, Windy Hill Village boasted not only the Rubin family as its residents, but also most of the Atlanta Flames hockey players. Somehow, my parents became friendly with a few of the players and next thing I knew, we had become hockey fans. I could name all of the players (to this day, I remember Captain Keith McCreary, Ernie Hickey, Jacques Richard and goaltender Dan Bouchard) and loved boasting to my classmates that I actually knew these guys personally! For the first time in my young life, I felt the excitement of attending a live sporting event, the bonding that occurs with a crowd of people all chanting the same thing in a great big arena, the emotional connection one develops with a local team – particularly, when you know the players personally.51LTCH15-9L._SL500_AA300_

Cut to many years later, after living in a hockey-less San Diego for most of my teens, attending UCLA where football and basketball were front and center, finally settling down to love, life, marriage and kids with a Swede who played hockey growing up. The fires were rekindled a bit and then, when our oldest daughter went off to college, befriending a couple of Canadian hockey fans (yes, I recognize that’s redundant) and realizing that she also enjoyed the game, it was time to really reconnect with the sport and our local team, the L.A. Kings. It didn’t hurt that the Kings were experiencing a resurgence that would soon lead to a 2012 Stanley Cup win – just in time for us to remember what it was like to be part of an entire city rejoicing over a shared victory.

Cut to this year when after watching nearly every game either from our couch or at Staples Center, after heated rivalries with friends and colleagues, Twitter wars, Facebook posts and many evenings of bonding over the details of a game, our beloved Kings have just been pushed out of the play-offs, after a valiant effort to win game 5 against a powerful Blackhawks team. There is a sudden empty feeling now that our team’s season is over – not just sorrow for their loss, but a definite void where it feels like something more important than just a hockey series is missing.  It made me wonder what this hockey passion is really all about.  What is it about this weird, emotional investment we humans make in a sports team that is so compelling and at times, all-encompassing?   Is it as simple as sharing a common interest with other humans? Is it living vicariously through the players, being competitive in a way that you might never get to experience on your own? Or is it deeper than that, the thrill of being part of something larger than ourselves, a connection to humanity that sometimes goes missing in our everyday lives, particularly now that connections are less face-to-face and personal, and more online and distant.

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Even if you have no passion for hockey, football, baseball or any other sport, you may still understand this urge to be part of something larger than yourself. If you have a favorite band, think of how it feels to be in a crowd of people at that band’s concert, all singing the same words to the same song, surrounded by a shared connection that seems to transcend a simple concert performance. (Anyone who has seen U2 live must know what I’m talking about, right?)

I’m sure in a few days, I’ll go back to “life before hockey season” where I am not racing to finish up my work so I can don my jersey and join my hubby on the couch or pick up our younger daughter early from school so we can battle the freeway traffic down to Staples Center to make it to our seats before warm-up starts.  There are plenty of things to occupy all of us until the fall and soon, the normal routines will again take over and my Twitter and Facebook posts will not longer be all about that bad call or that amazing goal in the last 10 seconds of regulation. But I’ll still be looking forward to the next season, the next game, the next opportunity to share in that connection to something bigger than me – a way to share an experience that is all at once exciting, emotional, aggravating and compelling with my family, my friends, my team, my city, with the other humans who share the planet – and a passion for hockey with me.

Getting Used to the Big Numbers…or 50 Things I’m Grateful For

At the end of this year, I will have to face a large number, a number that means I have reached five decades of existence. Why is this so difficult? After all, they say 50 is the new 30, a milestone, to be sure, but certainly not considered old age anymore. And as my husband is fond of saying, “it beats the alternative”. Maybe I fear it because I never imagined getting to this number. Like all kids, I couldn’t wait to be 16 so I could drive a car, 18 so I could go to college, become an adult and vote, and 21 so I could drink (ummm…legally). While I wasn’t anxious to reach the age of 30, I imagined where I would be and what I would be doing at that age (the year my first child was born, as it turned out –didn’t figure that!) and I could even see beyond that horizon to where I might be at 40. But 50? That’s just not a number I ever imagined.

So I’ve decided in an attempt to get used to that frightening number that I ought to start making lists of 50 that are not so scary. Like 50 things I’m grateful for, 50 things I’ve accomplished, 50 things I have yet to do, that I’m looking forward to doing some day.  50 places I’ve traveled and 50 I have yet to visit, 50 great novels (definitely won’t be including 50 Shades of Grey), 50 songs I can’t live without (maybe “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” should be on there), and maybe 50 posts I want to write. By making these lists maybe I’ll become accustomed to that scary-looking number by the time I get there….or maybe I’ll just have to drink a lot to hide the pain.

My inaugural list is 50 things I’m grateful for. Here goes:

1)   My health and that of my loved ones.

2)   My husband and the fact that his personality is the opposite of mine.

3)   My daughters.

4)   My Mom and Dad.

5)   My friends who are still my friends.

6)   My friends who are no longer my friends, but who helped shape me.

7)   The people who loaned me money in college.

8)   Every teacher who told me I could do “it”, whatever “it” was.

9)   My first love.

10) Being able to attend, and graduate from, UCLA.

11) Working from home for almost 19 years now.

12)  When I was still commuting to work every day, getting to drive down PCH every morning.

13)  All the clients who have hired me, those who have referred me and most especially, those who have hired me repeatedly to do work for them.

14) A good night’s sleep, when I get it.

15) The fact that my husband likes to cook.

16) The fact that one of my daughters has already taken after him in the cooking department.

17) The unconditional love of dogs.

18) Getting to spend part of my childhood in La Jolla.

19)  Music, music, music.

20) Books, books, books.

21) Daffodils in the spring.

22) Good wine.

23) Good, strong coffee.

24) Mint chip ice cream.

25) The scent of fresh lemon.

26) Pilates, without which I would be an injured, aching mess.

27)  Nordstrom’s customer service – can you beat it?

28) Getting to sit in the front row of the David Cassidy concert when I was 9 years old.

29) Getting to sit third row and front-row, center, respectively, at two Dave Matthews concerts as an adult and experience it with each of my daughters.

30) Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.

31) The beach.

32) Sunsets, especially at the beach.

33) Bangs…without them I might have to resort to Botox.

34) Online shopping.

35) Being able to live in California.

36) Not having to live in Texas.

37) Watching sports on a big screen TV.

38) Sunday’s Los Angeles Times…in print

39) The trip to England, Scotland and France I took with my best friend for high school graduation.

40) The opportunity to spend time in my husband’s native Sweden.

41) Dishwashers.

42) The advice of friends and colleagues who experienced things before me and shared their wisdom.

43) Clothes that don’t wrinkle.

44) The iPhone.

45) Summer.

46)  The Hollywood Bowl.

47) Writers.

48) Getting to watch my older daughter swim at Olympic Trials.

49) Friday evenings.

50) Getting to watch both my girls mature, follow their passions, learn from their failures and enjoy their successes.

Is Adversity a Requirement for Success?

My younger daughter recently had shoulder surgery – not something you plan to deal with when you’re an active 13-year-old whose sport happens to be swimming and who enjoys a full social life. Just after her surgery, I overheard a conversation she was having with her older sister who is away at college. My little one was clearly trying to stir up some sympathy from her sibling and was bemoaning the fact that she has to wear a sling for eight weeks and will then have the daunting task of trying to regain her strength to get back in the pool and swim over the course of the next six months. My older daughter dispensed these words of wisdom to combat her sister’s complaints: “Adversity is a good thing.”

This gem was spoken by the same girl who complained incessantly when her iPhone went in for repair and she had to use that “awful, ancient” Motorola Razr for three whole days: “But Mom, it’s impossible to text on this thing!  And it has no Internet!” Imagine the adversity of having to use a 6-year old cell phone for three whole days!

But in all seriousness, I thought about these words of wisdom and how Daughter #1 came to the recognition that adversity can be a positive and not a negative. As it turns out, my oldest does have some valuable lessons in adversity that she can share with her sister when it comes to their chosen sport of competitive swimming. Daughter #1 has been swimming on a team since she was five years old, on a competitive, year-round club since the age of nine and is now on partial scholarship, swimming for a Division 1 college team. During her years in the pool, she had an almost comical (though, in reality, not funny – or fun – at all) number of coaching changes – particularly during her formative periods. She also witnessed all of her best friends leave the team or quit swimming entirely, and struggled through a two-year plateau where she did not see a millisecond of improvement in any of her best events. She experienced most of this during her high school years, continuing to attend nine practice per week, including three mornings where she had to rise at 4:15am, drive 15 miles to the pool and practice from 5-7 am, attend school all day, return to the pool for practice from 4-7 pm and then conquer the usual homework and chores most students have to deal with.  She struggled to balance swimming, school, family and social life. She was fortunate to have a few good friends, her family and a couple of special coaches who encouraged her to stick with it and if you ask her now, she’ll tell you she is happy she did and could not imagine her life without swimming. After breaking through that time of struggle, she was recruited to one of the top college swim programs in the nation and in June, will compete at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.

While I admire her, I do tease her when she talks about conquering adversity. After all, she is not living in a war-torn country with the threat of dropping bombs all around her or living in an impoverished, third world nation where she goes hungry every night, nor does she suffer from a debilitating disease. When we speak of adversity, then, we are speaking of a very personal kind of adversity that does not even begin to compare to what some in the world unfairly struggle with every day. Nevertheless, though it is all relative, she has experienced struggles and difficulties and has come out the other end stronger and a better person.

More importantly, this issue of adversity got me thinking about what we give our children, what we do for them and whether or not it helps them, at the end of the day. As a child who was raised by a single, working parent struggling to make ends meet, I worked hard and saved to make sure that my family never had to face the same. As a child of divorce, I promised myself that when I got married, it would last, and knock on wood, here I am, married to the same guy for 26 years now and going strong.  As a child who attended four different schools in sixth grade alone and was uprooted numerous times to different states, cities and neighborhoods, I made a pact with my husband that we would raise our children in the same place so they wouldn’t have to experience that upheaval. So far, so good – we’ve been in the same house for nearly 14 years and our daughters have grown up and gone to school with essentially, the same group of kids.

’m happy that my husband and I were able to provide these things for our children and I certainly don’t regret following this path. But I do have to wonder: is it really a good thing that I’ve protected my children from so much adversity?  I look back at my own childhood and while there were many difficult times that I would never want to repeat, there were also important lessons learned. Having a mother who struggled financially motivated me to begin working at the ripe, old age of twelve and never stop. I was determined to work hard, have my own money and not be dependent upon anyone. It also motivated me to achieve in school so I could attend a good college and have a higher-paying career.  Being the child of divorced parents taught me about relationships – what I wanted from them and more importantly, what I didn’t want.  Having to move and uproot was painful, but it taught me how to adapt to new situations quickly, how to make new friends and how to adjust to new surroundings. I learned valuable coping skills that contributed to success in school and have been advantageous in the business world.

As I look back on the lessons I learned from my childhood experiences, I wonder if my husband and I have somehow done our daughters a disservice by giving them a stable, financially comfortable upbringing in which they can avoid much of the adversity I dealt with.  Where will they learn the importance of hard work? How will they know the value of financial independence? Will they be able to adjust to new situations and new people? Can they handle the only constant in life – change – when it is thrust into their paths?

While I don’t know for sure, I am at least comforted that somewhere down the line, my older daughter began to view adversity as a good thing and is now trying to impart this wisdom to her sister. She may have overcome a different kind of adversity than I had to, but it’s clear that she has still learned the crucial values of hard work, persistence and perseverance. There is relief in the knowledge that she is almost at the end of her freshman year and thus far, has successfully navigated life away from home – adjusting to new surroundings, making new friends, succeeding in both the classroom and with her sport.  I can only hope that the same will hold true for Daughter #2 when it’s her turn – that maybe her sister is right that the small adversity her shoulder surgery thrust upon her will result in some valuable lessons about determination, hard work and resilience.

Do you think adversity a requirement for success? How do we give our kids a comfortable life without sacrificing the lessons that can only be learned by struggling a bit?