Since the start of school, life has been a bit crazy.

It has something to do with my flaky, not so organized, stop-and-smell-the-roses way of living. Which is a fine way of living – until deadlines enter the picture. Deadlines and forms. Forms that have to be turned in … not lost. Deadlines and calendars. Calendars that list (or should list) meetings. Meetings that need to be remembered in order to attend.

So, I’m still not sure all of our bases are covered. But I’m hoping.

And, the start of school has already been up to its teachy-ways with more than one lesson to learn – not all of which involve textbooks and teachers. A few came from Barton’s volleyball team try-outs last week.

Now, I know that I’m a sucker for my own kids. In fact, I might err on the side of total sap. Even though my kids can get my ire like no others, they pretty much walk on water in my book. To say I’m their biggest fan is an understatement. (It’s that parent thing.)

And, though not all of the Wyma kids are athletes, a few of them have natural talent and ability. Barton is one of them. She has instinct and feel, like her athletic dad.

Last year, Barton made the volleyball team at her school. Trying out, she was a tiny bit nervous since most of the girls play on club teams – which she doesn’t. But she made it anyway. Not playing on club teams is a life decision for us. Barton’s older sister played on a club team for one season. No one in our home liked how it ruled our life. Multiply that times five… and we’re just not sure it’s worth it. For us.

Still, I offered her a couple camps, some clinics, practice with her sister’s school-team before last week’s try-outs … but she said no. She loves the game and figured she would step up and do what she did last year.

She stepped up; but apparently it wasn’t enough. At then end of a stressful try-out week, we looked on the coaches web page to see her number missing from the list that made the team.

My stomach hurt. My heart ached for her as she stared at the list in disbelief. Sadness took over every emotion.

We refreshed the page a couple times in hopes that maybe it was a mistake. Could I have clicked on the 7th grade team instead of 8th grade? Was that 7 actually a 1? I hadn’t; it wasn’t. She didn’t make the team.

Within moments, I had to leave to take her brother to his cross-country meet. I hugged her and told her how proud I am of her and how much I love her. Then I got in the car and gave myself a mental beating as I combed through all of the should-have’s and would-have’s. We should have done the club route, then she would have made the team. I should have forced the camps and clinics, then she would have gotten what she wanted. I should have been a better parent, then she would have been included and have group to fit into … I blew it … our life-approach has ruined hers.

But, I force myself to stop.

Failure and disappointment come with the territory. Beyond, and in the midst of, the heartache lie some absolutely golden life-lessons. Welcome to fertile training ground and some unlikely gifts that come with disappointment. Because one day she will absolutely be passed over for a promotion; she will most likely fail to get into a college she wanted; she will be left off a party invitation; she won’t be picked, she won’t be chosen … the list goes on.

What a great opportunity to walk the road next to her.

Little did I know, she was already – though begrudgingly, and a little sad – getting back up on her own.

She dreaded, but bravely responded to the “Did you make it?!” texts from now former teammates. And she was beginning to get a taste of at least one important life lesson: community. Though the blow tempted her to believe that she would be left out in the cold and alone, she wasn’t.

Before I got back from the cross-country meet, one of her friends had invited her to a movie, another a football game for the next day, and still another to go bike-riding and spend the night the day after.

Next, she was honest with herself… and me. “You know, I could have practiced more before try-outs. Next time (yes she said “next time”!) I will know to work harder on the front end.” A set-back doesn’t mean quit.

Then, in almost a pinch-me moment, as we sat a dinner that night she thoughtfully digested the disappointment and took it a step further.

“I can’t believe I didn’t make the team,” she lamented. “But I really am okay. I know it will be hard, but I will get through it.”

She took a bite of her taco and continued, “It’s weird because making a team sort of decides who you are. People put you with a group and that’s who you become. The volleyball player, or the band member or TAG student or whatever. And the truth is, I don’t like how those things define you.” She thought for a minute, then hit it home, “I kind of wish we would know people for who they are, not for what they do.”

Out of the mouth of babes can come some fairly thought-provoking words of wisdom. As usual, they apply as much to my life as they do to hers.


Failure hurts; disappointment stings, but – if we can see beyond the moment – it offers opportunity for lasting growth. A gift in unlikely packaging.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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