When you picture a loud, obnoxious, parent or fan that grumbled, annoyed or totally brought down the vibe at any sporting event you might picture the stereotypical gruff exterior, loud voice and exasperated expressions. They might have hemmed and hawed about a play. Maybe their kid did not get a fair call and they SURE made it known that they were downright dissatisfied. Sometimes they would get a reprimand or even thrown out of the stands if they REALLY make their presence known. Neither of my parents were the loud-angry-type but one of them did have a close call with a referee.
Once upon a time, my mom was almost “excused” from one of my soccer games. The only catch? Not a negative, disparaging word came from her mouth. Rather, the loudest cheering BOTH sides of the stands could account for. That’s right. My mom was almost asked to leave one of my soccer games because she was cheering too loud for anyone on the field that looked good to her. She’d be the first to say that she learned soccer right along with us — maybe not in skill or strategy even — but in passion. She was right there with us. At this particular game, she was too encouraging, too positive, too loud for the coaches to hear their own thoughts. What an image.
“Go, Emily, go!” “Get that ball!” “Yes, TAYLORRR!” “You got it, Blue!!” Nice SHOT, Red!” (She always but emphasis on SHOT!) She was non-stop. It got to the point that I didn’t even think twice — I could hear my coach, teammates and my mom. So normal.
It wasn’t normal for several reasons. Not many kids can grow up and say that their mom was truly there with them every step of the way. If she had been allowed to run around with me on the field, I can see my mom shrugging her shoulders, looking at me and saying, “Why not!?” (I promise we did have healthy boundaries.) My mom and dad were our greatest cheerleaders. My mom chose to show it in ways that were quite obvious. Even know, I take comfort that even though I may not feel it and I certainly don’t hear it like I used to, my mom is cheering for me and all of us left broken-hearted here on earth.
An even bigger lesson I learned from my mom through this though, is the equal-opportunity art of cheering for others. The innate ability she had to cheer and encourage everyone is unlike skill I’ve seen in anyone else. She was loud, positive and dangit, you weren’t going to quit on her watch. The way she believed in you made YOU believe in YOU. And even if she didn’t know you, well, like it or not, you were cheered for. So there.
My mom’s heart was put on display time and time again in all kinds of arenas. And nobody was too old, young, rich, poor, bad, good, skilled or unskilled for some Mary Brown Lovin’. It takes courage to encourage others. It takes bravery to say, “Hey, I don’t know you but I see you doing good things. Keep doing those things.” How often do we tell strangers that they did something well? How often do we go out of our way to cheer so loud for someone we don’t know? I know I certainly don’t. It’s much easier to bury my head, keep my eyes on my shoes as I pass folks on the street and keep doing my thing. It’s easy to stay focused on myself and my worries and my fears and my insecurities and my doubts. And when I do, they seem bigger and scarier and heavier. I forget that there is a whole world of activity buzzing around me. I forget that I am not the only one dealing with hard things. I believe that if you are living and breathing you likely know struggle. And since you are living and know struggle then there isn’t a bad time to receive a little encouragement, a high-five even.
I don’t know you, Reader, but I’d guess you have a little (most likely a lot) of bravery in you. I’d also guess you have a discerning eye — you know when something is awesome. Take that courage, build it up and then let it out so loud as you cheer for a neighbor.
Whistling: Finding this pink towel while I was home for Thanksgiving.