Dear Parents, Thank You For Guiding Me Through Life’s Hardest Moments

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“There is a small (I hope very small) but significant percentage of the population that dislikes me on sight.

It’s true.

It’s an interesting phenomenon and at this point I can just call my mom up and say, ‘So I met one of those people who just really don’t like me immediately.’ And she knows exactly what I mean, and we keep on going. It’s a whole thing.

I actually blame my loud cackling laugh… so maybe they hate me on ear?

Anyway, my cheerleading coach in high school was one of those people. She and I never did see eye to eye.

You see I was a 14-year-old girl anxious to yell my lungs out and spend as much time with the football players as possible

She just wanted us to cheer and then I think be as quiet as possible during every other moment.

The bus to and from games is where our conflicting agendas became a battle ground. I liked to blast my boom box and jam out in the aisles, balancing and shaking my hips as the bus rattled down the highway, George Michael’s Faith blaring as I showed off my mean air guitar.

I was only entertaining myself since a few weeks into the season she made a rule… cheerleaders would break tradition and no longer ride the bus with the players. Instead we’d be traveling in the second bus with the equipment because we were too distracted by boys (I’d like to fancy that I was a distraction but then you’d see my cheerleading picture and realize…nope).

Riding with the boys was, of course, a major perk to being a cheerleader so I’m sure somewhere in my teenage heart I was thinking… game on lady.

Then things went from bad to worse, because my super loud laugh and voice and probably my very presence ‘gave her a headache’ I soon found myself banished to the back of the equipment bus not even able to chat with my fellow cheerleaders who were sitting in front.

Nothing daunted I hung I there, laughing like a hyena, swishing my skirt on the sidelines and cheering like a champ for two years.

But after tryouts my junior year I found my name missing from the list of girls who made the squad.

I promptly did what any teenage girl would do… burst into inconsolable sobs by my locker in the hallway of our high school.

The rumor mill was going full swing as older girls who helped tally the votes from the judges alluded to the fact that they though they saw her change my scores. I was heartbroken and angry and cried to my parents about how the coach hated me and it was so unfair. They hugged me and comforted me and were so supportive, but you know what they didn’t do?

Call the school.

Call the coach.

Call anyone at all to complain.

Instead, in their infinite wisdom they didn’t try to fix it. They helped me navigate it. They knew this wasn’t going to be the last time injustice and heartbreak and disappointment would enter my world. And I suspect they already knew what we all eventually figure out if we are really lucky… the learning in life, and some of the biggest gifts, are in the struggle.

And so from that disappointment I did indeed receive some gifts.

The support of the squad who decorated my locker and held a sleepover just for me.

The support of my other friends who took me under their wings in the stands when I found myself on the sidelines during that first game… banished from my swishy skirt, no longer able to shake my pom poms.

The support of my family who assured me my worth was not tied up in anyway with what others thought of me. That not being liked wasn’t the end of the world.

And the knowledge life would go on. The disappointment didn’t define me. I could handle all this and more.

What gifts.

And I think of this when my mom heart breaks for my kids each time they are faced with a challenge that hurts their souls. I think of this when I’m tempted to whip off an email about some injustice or when I just don’t agree with how things are being done when it comes to the pieces of my heart and I want to swoop in.

And then I remember not to take away the gifts my kids will receive by living through the rough parts of life.

Watching our kids go through struggles is one of the hardest things to do as parents. No one can prepare you for it.

But God didn’t intend us to make their lives pain free and he hasn’t made ours free from pain either. Pain and struggle and disappointment all serve a great purpose in our growth. It’s up to us to help our kids steer their way through it so they know they can.

We can do hard things. And so, can they.”

Courtesy Amy Betters-Midtvedt

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hiding in the Closet with Coffee by Amy Betters-Midtvedt. The article originally appeared here. Follow Amy on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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