This past weekend we experienced our very first weekend of cheerleading competitions. I think I have said this before, but this is a totally new and different world for us. We have been in the gymnastics world so long that it is all we really know. I can tell you that I have no idea how to judge a cheerleading routine. I have no clue what the judges are looking for or what any of it means or really what it means to get a “hit” other than it is something you want. Some teams didn’t get a stunt up but still got a “hit” while others who messed up a stunt didn’t. It was all really confusing to me. I know that when I look at the routines with all their stunting, tumbling, and dancing, I think it looks good. I am clearly an untrained eye. Some of the teams are really amazing, but I really don’t know what the judges are looking for. I am sure I will figure it all out by the end of the season.
The biggest difference between gymnastics and cheerleading is one that I find not only interesting but also mimics real life (at least my life). While there are teams and team awards, the sport of gymnastics is really an individual sport. Your scores and your placement are based solely on your own performance. It is up to you to work hard and improve your skills. If you don’t win, it’s on you. You can’t blame it on anything or anyone but yourself. I talked last week about how gymnastics has taught my daughter about persistence, overcoming obstacles, and that hard work pays off. The same can be said about competitive cheerleading, but the lesson comes in a different way. Cheerleading really is a team sport. Your winning or loosing depends on the group’s performance as a whole. You can do the best routine of your life, but one of your teammates can have the worst of hers, and the whole team loses. For example, my daughter’s team knocked it out of the park on Saturday. They “hit” their routine and were in the lead going into Sunday’s competition. Then on Sunday one stunt had a small mess up and one girl was dropped. This one mistake caused them to drop to last place. It was a crushing defeat. Several girls were crying, some not even knowing what had happened but were still crying because their teammates were crying. They also knew instantly that the coaches were upset. It was evident to everyone, and the girls hated disappointing them. The girls that were involved in the mess up were naturally upset. I’m sure their heads immediately went to blaming themselves. I am also sure that the girls who didn’t mess up naturally blamed those that did for putting them in the bottom. Of course no one said anything aloud. There was no blaming going on verbally, but we all know that they are kids and that some of them were thinking it. What an opportunity to teach these kids an important life lesson. All of the parents were consoling their kids and assuring everyone that it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened. Sometimes things happen in real life that we have no control over and things go sour. It happens. We had to remind them all that they are a team and that they were in it together. They win together and they lose together. It just means that they have to go back to practice and work harder next time. We reminded them that they should be building each other up and supporting each other.
So much of this mimics real life. There are times when only you are in charge of what happens in your life and around you, and then there are times when circumstances are beyond your control and you have to trust and rely on others. This can apply within your job, your family, and your day-to-day life. You have to learn to manage both scenarios. You have to be willing to put in the work to make things happen, but you also have to trust that those around you are going to also put in the work. A great example of this is within a marriage. I don’t know of anyone who has a 100% perfect marriage. Marriage can be hard. There will be times when you disagree. There will be times when you don’t like each other. That’s all normal. When you live with someone day in and day out, there are bound to be some difficulties. It is just part of it. There will be times when things are going really well and times when they aren’t. In order for your marriage to be long-lasting, you have to be willing to put in the work. You have to do your part, but you also have to trust and rely on your partner to also put in the work. You have to trust each other no mater what. Just like in cheerleading, you have to have trust in your teammates. My daughter is a flyer, meaning that she is on the top of many of the stunts. She has to put her trust in her bases that they are going to hold her, not drop her, and catch her if she falls. The bases have to trust that she is going to get up there and do what she is supposed to do to remain tight and steady and that she is going to fight to stay up in the air no matter what. It’s the same in a marriage. You have to trust each other.
My marriage has been a combination of the two sports (solo and team). Much of my married life has been a cycle of me being solely responsible for my family and its well being, and then there are times when my husband and I are together as a team. It hasn’t been easy. For those of you that don’t know, my husband is in the military. I could say that he has probably been deployed for about half of the 18 years that we have been married. When he is gone, I am the one who is solely responsible for the way things go. I am responsible for keeping our family going. I take it all on; the mom role, the dad role, the financial guru, the disciplinarian, everything. If things go wrong, it’s on me. There is no one else to blame it on. It’s a huge and stressful responsibility, but one that I have had to take on too many times to count. I am a pretty independent person and part of me is okay with doing it all myself, but the other part of me likes sharing the load. It is a fine line to find the balance between the two. When my husband returns home each time, I have to then relearn how to work together as a team for our family. We have to parent together. We have to do life together. I have to take off some of my hats and pass them on to him. I have to trust that he is going to do his part. As much as I want to share the stress of our daily life, it’s not easy to give up all control and share the responsibility. His way of doing things is different from mine. His way of parenting is slightly different than mine. We have to learn to combine the two in a way that works for our family. We have to put in the work. We have to be united. We have to take care of each other. We have to be a team. When something goes wrong, we have to share the responsibility. The load is ours to bear together. We are ultimately better when we are together than we are apart. I will take teamwork over the sole responsibility any day. Teamwork is not easy. If it were, there wouldn’t be hundreds of team building activities, retreats, conferences, etc. out there all dedicated to teamwork. When you are united as a team, things will run smoother. Someone once said, “The healthiest relationships are those where you’re a team; where you protect each other and stand up for one another.” This is so true. I know my relationship and overall quality of life is better when my husband and I are working as a team, supporting each other, sharing the load, and standing up for each other no matter who or what is to blame. We are in this life together. We chose to do it together. I wouldn’t choose any other way or any other teammate to do all with.