Big Shoes

I have always been a forge-my-own-path kind of gal, so I am just now realizing how difficult it is for one who might be following in the footsteps of an older sibling or friend.  I wasn’t an only child—I had one younger brother who, luckily enough, wasn’t interested in any of the things I was interested in.  That made it easy for both of us to shine in our own different ways.  Band geek versus book nerd—no competition there, because we were both rocking the COOL factor in our own unique ways.
Now, I could have made things easier on myself by deciding that I would only have 2 kids as well, but I didn’t.  Instead, I decided to follow the philosophy of “the more, the merrier.”  And as it turns out, that happens to be very true.  Most of the time.  Ok, all of the time really, but there are definitely days when it takes the combined acrobatic talent of an entire troupe of Cirque folks to handle the fragile egos along the way.
First of all, I am ecstatic about Micaela winning 1st place at the Region IV trampoline competition.  Wow, Doodle Bug, you go, girl!  I was amazed for so many reasons—amazed that she could somehow figure out where she was mid-air and land on her feet, amazed that there were no broken bones, amazed that my little girl is growing up and becoming a strong, and if I do say so myself—competent, athlete.  Anyway, was it wrong of me to hang my head out the window all the way home from Illinois and do an old cheer from the high school days?  I think not.  (Micaela, however, did not agree.  She is now fairly certain she was swapped at birth and that her real mom is some perfectly sane lady living a perfectly quiet life somewhere.)
Ok, so back to screaming with my head out the window.  I knew Marissa was taking it pretty hard that she came away from the competition with a 6th place ribbon in her flight and no medal to show for it.  Hard would be an understatement.  While we were in the bathroom and she was changing out of her leotard for the ride home, I could hear little sniffles coming from under the stall.  I kept trying to make jokes and be goofy, but she wasn’t finding me remotely funny.
So here’s the deal.  Marissa has some big shoes to fill.  Her sister is amazing.  But what I tried to explain to Marissa is that she is amazing, too.  They are such different kids.  Micaela doesn’t get nervous.  Marissa turns a sort of lime green shade of puke before anything remotely nerve-wracking.  Micaela is tall.  Marissa has her mommy’s butt (Sorry, Baby).  Micaela likes music.  Marissa likes to read.  I could go on and on, but the point is that both of my girls leave me in awe every single day—each in their own different ways.
I see a lot of myself in Marissa.  I am a perfectionist.  I worked hard in school because an A- just wasn’t ever good enough.  Marissa is that—times 10 gazillion.  She is organized, and she is hard on herself.  Too hard on herself sometimes.  Marissa is the child who organizes her sock drawer and alphabetizes her books.  She is smart, so smart that the school had her tested for the gifted program.  But she is sensitive, too—boy, is she sensitive.  And have I mentioned hard on herself?
She decided after the meet that she would probably be a better cheerleader.  (Picture me doing the slow-motion ‘Noooooo!’ scream from a movie.)  Of course, she was reacting to the stress of the day, and she has since reiterated that she loves trampoline.  And darn it, she just wants to win.  And I just want to get a book published and win the lottery…and darn it, why can’t we all just get along?  (I am officially done whining now.)
She is now well past her low spot from this weekend, and all is right with the world again, but I can’t help but hurt for my little girl.  I know how hard she is trying, and I know how good she is at so many things.  I want so badly for her to win, and just once, I want her to wear a medal home like her big sister does.  She has big shoes to fill, but you know what else?  Whoever follows her or looks up to her will have huge shoes to fill as well.  Keep trying, little girl—you’ll get it!

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