I was a cheerleader in 5th grade. And that’s because tryouts weren’t required that year. Oh, and my friend’s mom was in charge. Sad, but true.
My mother tried to help me understand before I tried out the next year (when there actually were tryouts and it was school-organized) that perhaps it wasn’t the sport for me. My sister and I always joked that it was amazing we turned out as positive, able and accomplished as we did despite our mother’s ability to pop a hole in any balloon filled with aspirations of challenging new heights we hoped to achieve. Now I know she was just trying to protect us from getting our hopes up, but I have to slap myself when I catch myself doing the same thing with my boys. Because most of the time I proved her wrong.
Nevertheless, she had a point. And I didn’t make cheerleader that year. At that point my legs were longer and skinnier than a baby giraffe and I had the grace of newborn foal. And I couldn’t even pull off a cartwheel which was a beginner move for my agile, better proportioned cheering peers.
But perhaps that cheerleading experience from 5th grade, fictitious as it was, gave me good experience for adulthood as a woman. Honestly I think cheerleading should be part of the job description to be a mom and a wife. Even a sister, a friend and a daughter.
Today I was a cheerleader for my husband regarding his career. And a cheerleader for my son regarding his ability to make better choices. Last week I was a cheerleader for my niece after a humiliating day as a second year med student new to hospital rotations. And yesterday for my friend who was applying for a job after a long professional hiatus. And on many days I cheer my step dad on after his long days caring for my mother and her Alzheimer’s-addled brain.
I’m actually pretty good at cheerleading afterall. My mother would be proud.