Hannah had her first gymnastics practice in her "advanced preschool" class today. She's been looking forward to it for weeks. She had to "try out" for this class and was thrilled when she was selected. I'm not sure what the criteria was to make the class but I guess she showed some potential in her crooked little cartwheel or sideways forward roll. And today, in her new shiny, stripy, polkadotted leotard she was ecstatic. On the drive there I asked her if she was excited, wondering if there was a part of her that was nervous. New kids, new coach, newly five years old.
"Oh I'm so excited mommy! So so so excited. It's going to be the best. It is going to be the most fun ever. If I can't do something, I'll just ask and the coach will come over and help me. Because you know, I haven't done gymnastics for a long time (the summer/fall) so I might have forgotten some tricks but I'm sure I'll remember right away once the coach has showed me. I'll probably have the most fun I've ever had. Ever."
My little optimist.
I'm an optimist. I grew up in a household full of pessimists but somehow, I became an optimist. I don't know if it was a retaliation against the negativity surrounding me or if I was just born this way but I definitely view things in a positive light, for the most part. My mom used to always assume things wouldn't go well. I'd desperately ask her why she always put a negative spin on things and she'd say, "I'd rather believe the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if I'm wrong". I used to press her saying, "wouldn't it just be better to live life assuming things WILL work out and then, if they don't, be sad?" She absolutely, no doubt about it, disagreed. She hated the let down. It used to drive me crazy. Things as unimportant as the weather to things of utmost importance like whether I'd be asked to prom, she would prepare me for the worst. I guess she didn't want ME disappointed either. She was protecting me. She was loving me.
Often I'd look over at my dad when she was casting a negative light on things in my world, asking him to support my optimism and convince her to see the glass more full and he'd just shrug his shoulders. He knew it was a battle not worth fighting. Often my mom would say she was just being realistic. Not negative. If the chances were not in her favor, she wasn't willing to take a risk to think things would fall on her side. It was easier for her this way. It still is. I'm used to it. I now often do the "Wah Wah" of Debbie Downer when she makes a negative comment about something involving me. It's become a bit of a joke. One that she doesn't often laugh at but I have to.
Yesterday for Hannah's birthday I made big plans to take our family to the Big Apple Circus in NYC. I paid top dollar for close ringside seats. I decided to buy Luke his own seat even if he chose to sit on my or Tim's lap for the entire show. This way it would give us extra space and would give him the option to climb up and down off the chair if he wished. Hannah and I counted the days down to the big event. I was nervous in the back of my head. Nervous the Big Apple Circus may be a let down compared to the Ringling Brothers I saw and remembered clearly from my childhood. Nervous that Luke (and Hannah) would be petrified of the loud noises, big animals, clowns and crowds. Nervous that Hannah would want to go out into the ring with the acts, reminiscent of our trip to see the Wiggles on stage when she was two. Nervous that all of the planning would somehow not play out as Hannah and I had dreamed. But everything I said out loud, for anyone else's ears... was very positive. I told everyone how wonderful it would be, how sure I was that everything would go smoothly.
Yesterday morning I spoke to my mom.
Not surprisingly, she wasn't as full of optimism. I tried not to let it effect me. I tried to keep my steady, sturdy, upbeat attitude. It's not always easy when one of your biggest supporters isn't walking to the same beat.
She ended the conversation with, "Have fun!" And I know she meant it. She always wants the best for me. She is crushed when I'm sad. I'm sure the fact that I choose her to complain to when things DON'T go well makes her that much more interested in seeing things turn out positively. I don't blame her. I don't want her to stop communicating her thoughts to me... I guess, just as I always did when I was little, I wish I could drain some of the negativity from her head. Let her see how much shinier things could look without it. But you can't change the way someone views life. I just have to let it roll off me... and stay confident in my opposite approach.
I am not someone who looks at things through rose colored glasses. I actually get frustrated with people who do. People NEED to at least take NOTE of both sides, it's just which side they choose to let guide them that differentiates them. I am grounded. There are times when reality gets the best of me and I have a hard time snapping out of it and hoping for things to take a change for the best. I do worry. I do vent. I am not the person who says, "I'm sure everything will be fine." when I have reason to believe it won't. BUT, I choose to look at the sunny side. I choose to notice the flowers, not the dirt. The peaks of sun, not the clouds. It gets me through rough patches. It keeps me from wallowing. It keeps me sane on days when I could otherwise get pulled under.
I'm still glowing in the bask of the circus. That's right. It was AMAZING. Luke sat with his entire fist in his mouth for almost two hours, eyes as big as saucers. He applauded when anyone else clapped. He yelled, "Ta DA!" when the trapeze artist made a perfect landing. He "woof woofed" at the doggies parading around. He was asleep within 7 minutes on the car ride home. And the birthday girl? She had her picture taken with one of the head clowns. She got a birthday kiss from the ring master. She had her face painted, peed for the first time in a port-a-potty and announced to everyone and anyone who would listen that she was five. The only tears that were shed were this morning, when she realized it was over and we weren't going again today.
I'm so happy I was optimistic about yesterday. If I hadn't been, my nerves probably would have gotten the best of me. I would have left Luke at home and worried about each and every detail. Instead, I went with the flow. I planned a great day, and it was over and above what I dreamed of. I saw my daughter's eyes widen with excitement and disbelief at what was going on in front of and above her. The thrill in Luke's face will forever be etched in my memory. He won't remember one second of it... but I will.
Two months of excitement and one afternoon of perfection. Certainly better than two months of fretting and an afternoon of relief. It gave me reason to continue my optimistic way about me. And reason to encourage the same with my kids... if nothing else it will keep the Debbie Downer impersonations to a minimum.