if there is one thing I know how to do, it is to compete… I feel at home when I’m trying to win a board game, leg wrestle or run… I can turn basically any fun, social situation into a competition… I have turned friend vacations into ping-pong tournaments and bocci ball on the beach when all they wanted to do is relax…  I get annoyed when I’m driving if someone passes me because that means I wasn’t driving fast enough… when I travel I secretly pretend I’m on Amazing Race and for the last month of going to Pilates I was imagining that I was a Victoria Secret model training for the the big show in Paris…

I’ve found the best way to compete is to have children and then I don’t even have to do the work…. (except the work of critiquing them afterwards… which often can be a considerable amount of work)   if they succeed I remind them of the fantastic genetics that their father and I bestowed upon them and if they fail I let them know it was their lack of effort and preparation… 

if the farmer and I had a life motto so far I’m sure it would be similar to a Tina Turner song…

this has obviously led to a considerable amount of disappointment and heartbreak, but the end of goal of ‘simply the best’ has always spurred us forward, disregarding common sense or that small voice telling you that perhaps there is more to life than the attempt to be better than other people…

problem is, when I hit up social media on Sunday to post a picture of my son’s team winning a hockey tournament, it didn’t bring with it the usual goosebumps one gets when they feel like everyone will finally recognize how amazing their child is…  

when I put the appropriate emojis and hashtags and hit ‘done’, I wasn’t sure that everyone I knew was going to tell me how awesome I must be as a mom to have raised a child that could win at something or what a rock star my boy must be to have a medal around his neck…

 

at first I attributed my lacklustre approach to winning, competition and social media to the ‘farmer depression’ I have going on…

I tried to do a little pep-talk and tell myself ‘come on Catherine… you love winning… you love your child winning and you love rubbing it in everyone’s faces when they do! because then everyone will know that once again, you are great and your offspring are even better’

then I go to a game where the farmer is coaching and my other son is playing we get blown out 6-0…  and I get a taste of being the loser  (no Instagram picture was taken) and normally I would tell myself, ‘winning will make this feeling all better… all we have to do is win and I’ll forget about the losing’

during the long drive home, I realize what it is that I’m missing…  this could have been brought on by the song I listened to 5 times while the farmer and my son and daughter slept…  (it’s quiet uptown)

but I realized all I have ever really wanted is community…  and that I would take community over competition any day of the week… except Football Sundays… go Packers…

because winning is fine and dandy if you have loved ones to share it with… and honestly, so is losing if you have loved ones to share it with… 

it is the ‘shared life experience’ that I am after…  it is experiencing life with the farmer, my kids and our family and friends that makes me feel joy…  it is being there, side by side, with loved ones through life that is enough… it is enough

don’t get me wrong… not ever going to give up leg wrestling or my intense desire to beat everyone at a friendly Christmas board game… nor do I think I will be any more gracious in defeat…

but I now know that my motto is going to be ‘community over competition’…  and I will repeat this in my head the next time my mother-in-law beats me at pickle ball…

*** if you feel like crying, listen to this song 5 times about a couple losing their teenage son…  sung by Kelly Clarkson who is ‘simply the best’

It’s Quiet Uptown

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

Then push away the unimaginable

The moments when you’re in so deep

Feels easier to just swim down

And so they move uptown

And learn to live with the unimaginable

I spend hours in the garden

I walk alone to the store

And it’s quiet uptown

I never liked the quiet before

I take the children to church on Sunday

A sign of the cross at the door

And I pray

That never used to happen before

(If you see him in the street, walking by himself

Talking to himself, have pity)

You would like it uptown, it’s quiet uptown

(He is working through the unimaginable

His hair has gone grey, he passes every day

They say he walks the length of the city)

You knock me out, I fall apart

(Can you imagine?)

Look at where we are

Look at where we started

I know I don’t deserve you

But hear me out, that would be enough

If I could spare his life

If I could trade his life for mine

He’d be standing here right now

And you would smile, and that would be enough

I don’t pretend to know the challenges we’re facing

I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost

And you need time

But I’m not afraid, I know who I married

Just let me stay here by your side

And that would be enough

(If you see him in the street, walking by her side

Talking by her side, have pity)

Do you like it uptown? It’s quiet uptown

(He is trying to do the unimaginable

See them walking in the park, long after dark)

Taking in the sights of the city

Look around, look around, look around

(They are trying to do the unimaginable)

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There’s a grace too powerful to name

We push away what we can never understand

We push away the unimaginable

They are standing in the garden

Standing there side by side

She takes his hand

It’s quiet uptown

Forgiveness, can you imagine?

Forgiveness, can you imagine?

(If you see him in the street, walking by her side

Talking by her side, have pity)

Look around, look around

They are going through the unimaginable