Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Being...a Gymnast's Mom

I can't fully imagine what Gabby Douglas' mom has gone through as she watches her baby girl doing what she loves - GYMNASTICS.

I was a gymnast's mom. My daughter, Jarebear once was following close in Gabby's shoes. She was training at a US Gymnastics training facility with the full focus from her coaches, that the Olympics was her goal. Then, the unthinkable happened...a vault accident that injured two vertebrae in her spinal area. The blessing in that was had it been a inch closer to her spine, it would've had a horrible ending.

Like Gabby's mom, I never imagined my Jarebear to get as far as she did. I enrolled her in gymnastics after seeing how shy yet limber she was at the age of 3. She possessed bravery the very first time she was placed on a high beam, at 4 years old, by waiting until the coach looked away to turn a cartwheel on the beam and literally stick it! Before class was over, the trainers were asking if we would consider her training at their facility. USA gymnastics training centers are expensive...an expense at the time, we couldn't afford so we turned down the offer, keeping her at a parks and rec tumbling program. It was a year later that we decided that we would pinch pennies if we needed to to make her dream come true.

The hours of training were long...5 days a week, 4 1/2 hours a day. The training facility was 90 minutes away. The silver lining was that she was homeschooled so while I worked away from home, she did her schoolwork and  I'd come home, grab her schoolwork to correct and head back out the door to the gym. We'd come home at 10:30 pm, ready to go to bed, then get up and start the process all over again.

The hard parts of being a gymnast mom were watching as she was injured and not being allowed on the gym floor to comfort her. The coaches forbid the parents to be "parents" when their child was training. Complete trust was in the coach that they would make sound decisions on what was good for my daughter.

My heart went out to gymnasts who were afraid to do certain skills and as they cried, the coach often yelled at them for being afraid. It was easy to use one gymnast to compete against another gymnast.

When a gymnast did horrible during a competition, the coach often gave the gymnast the silent treatment, making sure the gymnast knew that they had to try better the next time around.

I saw gymnasts go through complete emotional breakdown over being chewed out for gaining weight after their daily weigh in.

I witnessed parents yelling at their child for not doing good enough to get the coach's attention.

I saw girls training with an injury, afraid to tell the coach for fear that they wouldn't be able to compete that week in a competition.

I heard gymnasts cutting one another down instead of lifting one another up because when it was all said done, they were competing not only as a team but also individually.

****More to come....stay tuned.....******


Mari said...

I can't imagine living that life. However, those gymnasts impress me so and I love to watch them. I love gabby. She seems to have such a sweet personality.
How are you feeling? Hope you are improving by leaps and bounds!

Brian Miller said...

it is brutal and hard to watch...my wife was a dancer and to see some of the things they would put themselves through...and the patching up so the show could go on...

Stacy said...

It is definitely not the life for everyone...and I do hope that in most cases it is the athlete's dream, not the parents' or the coach's. I hope.

Sweet Tea said...

I find this very enlightening. I didn't realize just how intense the training was. I'm anxious to read "the rest of the story"...I KNOW that lifestyle would not be something "doable" for our family. Can't imagine how you kept up with such a schedule. Wow!

HAPPY that you once again feel like blogging!
Hope you are regaining strength and feeling MUCH better.

Veronica Lee said...

I can't imagine living a life like that!

Hope you are feeling better now, Simone!

Formerly known as Frau said...

I imagine it would be pretty cut throat but seems unnecessary....I'm glad your daughter didn't get hurt worse. I'm happy for Gabby and her family but I know the pressure to do even better is on.

Anita said...

It's unfortunate that parents and teachers can't figure out a better way of obtaining excellence. I'm reminded of the Tiger Mom book; though I didn't read it, but just the promotions gave me a good idea of the "push."

I understand the need to push and to allow children to experience the gifts they are born with; however, as I first said, it's got to be a better way.

You were a good mom to hang in there with Jarebear. I guess it wasn't meant to be; which is okay. She's blessed, if only to have you. :)

Linda Myers said...

I think every child should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Good for you and your support!

yaya said...

Simone, Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm sorry to read that you had surgery and have some complications. I work in a surgery unit here in Ohio. I hope you are doing better. The sacrifices the parents make for their children are astounding, but it's what we do when we want them to be happy. I'm glad your daughter wasn't hurt worse although it's kind of sad how much these athletes go through. My #2 son is working in your neck of the woods and hopefully when their home sells the rest of the family will join his soon! Take care and thanks for the nice comments on my blog!

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Terra said...

I did not know how intense and unpleasant some gymnastics training can be. I hope your daughter's injury healed fully, I know that was years ago. Take care and recover from your surgery.

Annmarie Pipa said...

but when it is in their dreams it is a drive from their heart...they are inspirational to me for their passion.
I have seen over and over and over parents pushing their kids to fulfill the goals the parents never reached.


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