Losing gracefully – a life lesson

Dear GG, some time ago you had to prepare for a big event at school. To coincide with the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s momentous speech, the entire school would deliver individual speeches to their peers, on a subject of their own choice. You would be judged by your class, and a winner selected to go through to the school final.

You prepared for this speech day after day after day. You really took on the challenge, researching your chosen theme – the marshmallow – and writing up your notes. You put together 2 minutes of facts and opinion, some facts we never knew, some descriptives that made us want to lick marshmallows, and some humour for interest.

You’re not given to hard work where there is a clever alternative, so I was impressed by the effort you made for this speech. You knew it was good, funny, engaging, and you were fired by the desire to do your best. I was proud of you. You worked on intonation, drama, facial expression, and practiced how you might get your audience on board.

The day came, and you took your carefully prepared props – Don’t touch the marshmallows! No, not even one! Not until I’ve done my speech! – and your costume, and we walked to school. It doesn’t matter if I don’t win, I know I’ve got a really funny speech that people will like, and I know I can deliver it well. It’ll be fun.Β Still, I held my breath until the end of the day. I knew when I saw your face at the door. You didn’t win.

It’s life, and though we, as adults, know that you can’t always win – it’s the taking part, the recognition, the fun of the event that matters – you my children have still to learn how to cope with the emotions that come from not always being the best. It wasn’t your day, someone else was more popular in the moment that mattered, your turn will come…

But it’s so hard to look at your face – brave all day long in front of your classmates – crumple in disappointment once you’re home. It’s hard to know that whatever lessons you’re learning now, there are more to come, fiercer, harder, tougher lessons than this one. I have learned them, and yet still I find myself knocked sideways occasionally by something I thought I could take in my stride. You get back up, of course, you put a brave face on things when it matters, and you cry when you get home.

My gorgeous children, your happiness is what matters most in the world to me. I’m so proud that you hold it together when you have to; I’m so honoured that you pour it all out to me when you get home; I’m so grateful that I seem able to say things that help you to cope with how you feel.

One day this will no longer be the case. One day you’ll need a shoulder and I won’t be there, or I will no longer be the person in whom you want to confide. Then is when you need friends. Take care of your friends, and check that they are taking care of you. Make sure you really know who you can trust, because when you need them, they are always there for you.

Losing Gracefully

I needed friends this week. I felt low, irrationally, over something quite small in the scheme of things. I felt ridiculous for caring so much. I felt bad having a whine – whining is not my style, and others have so much more on their plates than me. But I told some friends. They did not judge, they understood, they sympathised, they boosted my confidence, and they gave me the motivation to dust myself off and start again.

You took a few days lovely girl, to get back to your usual self, but you bounced back, minus a tiny chunk of innocence, but bigger and Β better for the addition of a life lesson. You know what you have is amazing, you know where it could be improved, and you know that you are you, the sum total of all life’s lessons, and beautiful for all that makes you different from the others. Not better, just different, in a good way.

And if I have helped in any way to build that confidence you have, even when you didn’t win, I am doing a good job. Any friend who makes you feel less than you are, isn’t really a friend. And any person who accepts you for who you are, and loves you anyway, is one you should hold onto.

PS – I think you should have won – I wonder what anyone else thinks… πŸ˜‰

Mum Of One

60 thoughts on “Losing gracefully – a life lesson”

  1. Beautiful post Helen, and really resonates with me today, not because of the Mads, but because of some friends who haven’t been what I thought they were. You are very wise and GG and the Bug very lucky. xx

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  2. What beautiful post Helen. I think all that we really want for our children is that ability to embrace life but to just take the knock backs on the chin, but it’s a tough one to teach. And one that a lot of grown ups I know still haven’t acquired. Every time I’ve seen your children they are utterly charming, and it sounds like they know exactly who to turn to when things don’t go quite how they wanted or expected, so it seems to me like you’re doing a darn good job. x

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  3. Great speech GG, and beautiful post Helen. It is so hard to see someone that you love disappointed but it is wonderful that she knows she can turn to you for support. Thanks for sharing with the pin it party.

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  4. Such a gorgeous, heartfelt post Helen.

    It’s so hard to encourage our kids to learn the lessons we’re still trying to get to grips of ourselves. It’s stupidly difficult but if GG’s already learning how hard life can be you really are doing a brilliant job and your kids are really very lucky, missus.

    *passes frozen wine*

    x

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  5. Really lovely heartfelt post. It’s so hard to teach the art and grace of not winning when we want them to everytime. She has a very lovely supportive mum in you. Xx

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  6. Lovely post. I hope my children know they are always winners in my eyes, even if in nobody elses! Not everyone wins everything, life is hard, but taking pride in your own achievements is more important than a shiny trophy. (even if we all secretly want a shiny trophy…)

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  7. And now you’ve made me well up. You have a wonderfully confident little girl in GG and someone who you should be immensely proud of/ I’m not sure that any of my children (bar perhaps the middle one!) would have the confidence to stand up and do what she did in her brilliant speech. She will go far with her own personality but even further with a mum who supports and encourages her, like you so clearly do. I can totally understand her being disappointed with not winning, who wouldn’t be? I think we all secretly hope that will be us but she’s learnt a life lesson here. Beautiful post πŸ˜‰

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    • Thank you so much – you try hard to be your best, and when you don’t quite make it, it feels worse than if you’d not tried at all. I think the real win is in being able to give it another go πŸ™‚

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  8. You have summed up so perfectly how I feel in this lovely post. It’s so hard as a mum to have to prepare them for disappointment when you know you’d choose them to win every single time! She’s brilliant, and lucky she has such a supportive mum! πŸ˜‰

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  9. Fantastic post Helen. Kids seem to bounce back faster than us. I’ve been known to sulk for days or even weeks – it’s hard when you gear yourself up for the ‘I could win because you build up your hopes.’
    Your both winners in my eyes πŸ™‚

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  10. Beautiful post and although it’s tough losing I hate how in some schools they seem to want to create an ‘everyone’s a winner’ mentality’. We can’t always be the best and learning how to do that gracefully is a hard skill to learn but sounds like you are doing an amazing job in walking the tightrope.

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    • I couldn’t agree more! I can’t stand the namby pamby attitude of some schools, though I do wish they would recognise that children take it hard when they don’t win, and dedicate some time to talking about dealing with their feelings x

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  11. You know how much I hate just commenting *hugs* don’t you? But that’s what I really want to say now, not because it’s easy to do but because it’s what I want to give you x

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  12. Oh what a beautiful post – I have a lump in my throat. It is so so hard when they have little set backs like this and it is so heart breaking for mummy too. You have a beautifully well spoken little girl, and the way you have written about her just oozes love. A post I will remember xx
    PS I love the mummy interjection partway through her speech ‘um, if you don’t sit down you won’t be getting a marsh mellow’ – love it!

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  13. Lovely post. Life is about winning and losing (and doing it as gracefully as possible), but also enjoying everything in between. Here’s a joke to cheer you up…
    I had a dream last night, I was eating a ten pound marshmallow.
    I woke up this morning and the pillow was gone. (Tommy Cooper)

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  14. It always hurt me just as much when one of my children would lose. It was like I felt their pain in my body. It doesn’t even seem to matter what age they are, I still feel their pain. Weird or a mom’s instinct?

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  15. Wow, she did so well to present that, and not just read it – and how kind of her to offer a ‘normal’ one after the choccy one was rejected!!! I know what you mean though, I feel it keenly when my girl is not top of the list or best at smiling in class to get the tick for the day etc…. but it’s a hard lesson they have to learn (and only the strong come out on top..). And it’s true that life experiences teach you who real friends are, and sometimes people who you thought were friends turn out to be less than that… real friends will stick through thick and thin I think the saying goes?! x

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    • She rehearsed it so much Steph, it was the first time I’d ever seen her put that much effort into something. Made it doubly painful when she didn’t win. Thank you for watching it x

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  16. It’s impossibly hard to master the art of losing gratefully. I’ve lost a lot of things during my thirty-something years on the planet and I still go home and sob my heart out once the congratulating-the-victor-bit is done. But you know, I have my wonderful husband and our beautiful children, so consider myself to be the winner in the big picture. Doesn’t stop me wishing I could take home a trophy one day though. Big hugs to you x

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  17. Such a beautiful post, as a Mum who has younger kids, I can learn from this, which is amazing. I hope I can give them the cofidence you have given to yours. Personally, I think she should have won, she conbined everything needed in a speech and added my favourite, humour. I DEMAND A RECOUNT!

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  18. awwww i love this post. Having watched your GG speak well Helen she is utterly charming, beautiful and so well spoken, I found her speech to be fun and engaging – she soooo reminds me of you!! (is she wearing marshmallows in her hair??)
    I know i am not at this stage yet with my boys, and as you say they must learn to be gracious winners and losers in life , but as you also wrote it must be hard helping them when they are so disappointed and didnt let it show in front of their peers
    Helen you are such a wonderful mummy, actually (see what i did there??!) and i am sorry you have had a bad time of it – i hope things are better for you now.
    PS love your telling Bug off in the video lol the voice of authority!! x

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  19. you know the saying “you win some you loose some”, however sometimes the loosing makes you a winner in the end, because of what you learn from the loosing, so really a win win. big snogs my lovely x

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  20. It’s a tough lesson to learn. I have two high-achieving kids and I always expect them to win, to pick up the trophy, to be chosen for the team – and they expect it too. It’s hard for all of us when they don’t win, but we have to accept that sometimes it’s just not our day and sometimes someone else has to win!

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