Last week, two of my daughters tried out for the elementary school production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
On the days leading up the production, I could hear them upstairs walking back and forth with heavy feet, belting out tunes, and critiquing and encouraging one another. They were in this – together.
The night prior to the audition, our family gathered upstairs to watch them perform. One by one, they took the “stage” and presented their songs. One was nervous. The other was not.
Although siblings, they each are their own little people. At times, so alike and at others – so very different.
We oohed and ahhed and spoke words of congratulations and affirmation and let them know that nerves and butterflies were normal – especially when performing in front of a large group of people.
The next day, I kept thinking about my daughters and their auditions. I hoped and prayed things would go well for them. And then I received the text.
“I can’t do it I messed up and I can’t do it!!!!!!! At tryouts.”
This started a long back and forth dialogue of “Yes, you can” and “No, I can’t” with other words of motivation and encouragement thrown in.
Regardless of what was happening in that moment, I was proud of her. She was so very brave to stand in front of people and try something new. More than anything, I wanted her to know how proud I was of her for being so brave.
It takes a lot of guts to stand in front of a room full of people and sing a song. And regardless of the outcome of this tryout, I wanted desperately for her to understand that.
And then another text came about her sister. “She did it. And she was amazing.”
This moment confirmed one of those things I have known for some time to be true. You can feel two seemingly opposing emotions simultaneously. One does not override the other. I was happy that one had performed well. And was sad the other had struggled. I wanted to rush into the school and jump up and down with one child, while scooping the other into a ferocious mama bear hug.
The girls came home from the audition and we talked about how things went. After our initial discussion, a few days went by without much talk about the production. Until my daughter received a text from a friend saying the results were in. I was told to check my email.
I prepared myself for what I would see. And what I had assumed would happen, based on the texts from that day, did indeed come true. One daughter made it. The other did not.
I called my husband into our bedroom and told him the news. Now, to break it to our daughters. How do you tell two children who worked so hard together on something – that one was chosen and the other was not? I found myself feeling excited for one. And sad for the other. And unsure of how to proceed.
“Did we make it?! Did we make it?!” my husband and I could hear them screaming from behind the door of our bedroom.
Although one was incredibly nervous during her tryout and claimed she couldn’t do it, she is a person who is filled with joy and optimism – and in this moment, the joy and optimism she carries with her daily were winning. Regardless of how she perceived her tryout had gone, she was excited and hopeful that a part may be coming her way anyway.
One by one, we called them back into our room – and one by one, we delivered the news. Their reactions were what I had imagined they would be.
Both of them cried a little for the one who didn’t make it. And both of them cheered a little for the one who did.
We told our daughter who didn’t make it – Don’t give up. She stood up in front of people. She faced her fears. Head on. And she did it. She gave it her all. And that is all we ever ask. She was so brave. And we were so proud.
Although she was sad, she still congratulated her sister repeatedly. And over the course of the next few days, we would hear her bragging enthusiastically to others. “Did you hear my sister got a role in the play?”
We told our daughter who did make it – Congratulations. Job well done. We told her although she was sad for her sister, it was okay to be excited for the opportunity she had been given. We expressed how proud we were of her, and let her know it was okay for her to be proud of what she had accomplished, too.
We talked to the girls about how we all have different gifts. Different strengths. Different talents. About how we are all unique individuals. We talked about persevering and if there is something you really want in life, don’t let one road block stop you from pursuing that dream.
You get knocked down. You stand back up. You brush off your pants. And you start again. Over. And over. And over. That type of grit and tenacity will pay off in the end.
Sometimes in life, we learn hard lessons. I feel like this was one of those moments for my girls. And for us as parents.
Sometimes, we find ourselves simultaneously congratulating and consoling. Cheering on one child and comforting another. Giving a high five and wiping away a tear.
I was so glad to see them in this together. I believe this entire experience has strengthened their bond.
And has taught us all a thing or two about life.
I know it has reminded me of the importance of trying something new and not giving up. Of celebrating the success of others. And giving a hug in the face of disappointment.
When I heard my daughter bragging about her sister, even when she didn’t have a part of her own to celebrate, and when I saw my daughter cry tears of sadness for her sister who had worked so hard – my mama heart burst open.
I am always learning from my children. And this moment was no exception. This is the kind of attitude I want to have in life. In the face of disappointment and rejection, to not get lost or wallow in the sadness of the defeat, but instead to be able to celebrate the victory of another. And in a moment of victory, to be able to shed a tear for someone who gave it their all, but did not come out on top this time – what a beautiful thing.
Both of my daughters may not have gotten a role in this musical, but they both are being celebrated. For their hard work. For their bravery. But most of all for their kindness. They both may not have gotten roles in this musical, but in my eyes – they both have performed like stars.
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