One of my most favourite parenting lessons was learning to put on my game face. As I have said before, I'm a huge advocate for teaching my boys to have courage, and part of this comes from the term... "Game Face."
In the rush of the morning routine, I will quite often walk upstairs to wake up the boys (and yes, I shouldn't have to wake them up, and yes, they are old enough for an alarm, and yes, that should be their responsibility.....BUT, we will save that for a different debate and blog post!)and I say to myself;
"OK girl, time for your game face. Quiet time is over, smile in place, happy voice loaded and ready. It's go time."
It doesn't always end how it started, and sometimes it's starts poor and ends well, but it's all about the game face.
I recognized a need for it first during labour. I had to have a conversation with myself that went something like this;
"Pull yourself together girl! It's not about you! Put your game face on, do what you were built to do, and deal with getting this baby born!"
Did I mention I had to push for 4 hours? And that they still had to vacume him out?? And he was 9lbs7oz? Again, that's a whole different blog post!
Anyway! Other scenarios for game face now come in the form of comments like;
"Mom, can I talk to you?" or "Mom, I didn't do very well on my test." or "Mom, what does ______ (insert your own scary word!) mean?" That would be my personal favourite. Or, "Mom, I'm worried." OR when they all come bursting through the door after school.
All these scenarios force me to take a minute, switch gears, get my game face on, and even stop what I'm doing, so whomever needs me has my undivided attention. They are depending on me to set the tone for the house, conversation, dilemma, or how they need to respond to themselves emotionally. Sometimes we even make a mug of tea to help us sort through it. Most of the time they can talk their way through it themselves and come up with a solution on their own.....with a bit of guidance. It's usually a case of me just giving them the time to sort it out, without trying to fix it for them, rescue them, degrade them, or de-value how they're feeling. It's about the grace to validate, then move on to a solution. I want them, as men, husbands, and fathers, to be able to tackle a challenge, whatever it may be, with courage, determination, accountability, grace, and compassion. Full circle back to game face.
In my world, that means coming at something calmly, graciously, and with your head and heart fully engaged. My latest "Game Face" pep talk to myself has come because we are gearing up for our family's busy sports season. I NEED to be ready. I will be running 5 days a week to different sports venues, trying to feed everyone nutritiously, keep up with laundry, homework, baking, finances, emotional needs, husband needs, school council needs, AND maintain a gentle and loving attitude towards the people who come across my path. I need to be able to set the household tone properly for the next 4 months. Game face.
I have a little game face motion that I do to my boys, as they are heading onto the soccer field, running track, swimming pool, Taekwon Do ring, basketball court, or any other area of life I feel it's needed. I motion my hands over my face in a circular way. The boys know this to mean;
"Good luck! I'm praying for you! Give em' heck! I'm proud of you! And GAME FACE ON!"
Usually I get a little smile, or wave, sometimes a cheeky shake of the head, but always they know what it means. They know I've set the tone, and no matter what, we will get through it together. Whether we celebrate or re-asses.
Even though I know we are all busy, and I know we all have different areas of our worlds that drain us or try our patience, girls, we need to be ready. We need to be aware of the tone we set because these precious kids depend on it. And if we screw up? Call it for what it is, apologize, smother it in grace, and move on. And if your kid screws up? Call it for what it is, forgive, smother it in grace, and move on.
PS: By the way, if any of you happen to see me looking slightly frazzled over the next few months remember.... Circular motions inward over your face at me. I'll happily take the hint and encouragement!