Life is an uphill climb.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment you get from achieving a goal despite overwhelming odds. As a dreamer I know this... yet, even so, I would usually prefer to spare myself the struggle. As a parent, it is even more difficult to watch your child's challenging ascent into adulthood, a bystander to lessons hard-won.
"Why can't it just be easy for once - why can't we ever cut a break?" was my husband's lament upon learning of the kitchen gremlins that tried their best to sabotage our daughter's recent Skills USA commercial baking competition. With much needed scholarship money on the line, and our most determined child as well prepared as was humanly possible, we were confident she would at least do well. And she did, too, just not in the way we expected. When everything started to go wrong, she sucked it up and plowed on. She overcame obstacles not of her making to put her best - for the circumstances - foot forward, finishing on time and without a pity-party, though a few tears may have flowed later in private. I couldn't have been more proud of her.
Yep, life is hard and it's not always fair. Admitting defeat without giving it your best shot is the easier route, but it doesn't get you anywhere. If I could have saved her the difficulties she had to face I would have, but as I watched my daughter reach a new level of maturity in that three hour blur, I realized that there is much more to success than having things go according to our neat little plans.
We won't know for two weeks yet how she fared in the competition, but I know without a doubt that she is a winner at life. She is sure to face more challenges over the years, and when she does, I'll be able to say in all confidence "Babe, you've got this!"