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Friends along Enemy Lines

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It's been awhile since my last blog post. I kept trying to sit down and write what was on my mind, which has been a lot of things, and everytime I tried, I just pushed it away and did something else. I want to write about the US Nationals we attended in early May, the national that proceeded Oregon. I want to write about the weeks of health issues, stress, anxiety and preparation that followed. I have thoughts on New Mexico, a trip that just finished up and finally, I want to write about the ins-and-outs, emotions, drama, fellowships, of all this racing and traveling. I need to use my words and hope that in the end, my words can help other mom's and perhaps some of my family and friends, understand why it is I do what I do and really, what all this crazy stuff means for my family.

Six weeks later, I think I understand why I was hesitant to write, because there was no direction, no end, to what I wanted to say. Until now... I've decided that I am going to write two blog entries, one about Nick's awesome weekend in Bakersfield at the U.S. Nationals and another, this one, about making friends along enemy lines, because that's what it is in our sport. BMX racing involves teams, yes, but each rider is responsible for their own actions, their own wins, the team points they earn come only from their performance with the final tally coming from a certain group of riders. The kids my son races are his competitors, as are the parents. We are cordial, talk about the races, weather, who's beating who in the points, etc. However, the underlying competitive nature is always there. It is our life in the sport of BMX. So that’s what this is about, making those life-long friendships with folks that we compete with. Can it be done? Yes, I am here to say, it can but it takes some soul-searching, some true-to-yourself believing, pride-swallowing, and mostly, taking a risk that it could go sour.

Many people think they go into relationships with their eyes wide open but in sports, it’s the opposite, eyes wide shut. People like to say they are aware of what goes on around them but many aren’t and it isn’t until the “he said, she said” gossip begins that “drama” starts and people start feeling hurt, deceived and in it for themselves. In our competitive sport of BMX we are a very tight community, often seeing each other locally and Nationally. We have parents that will lie about where they are racing to keep other kids from showing up, parents that will let their child take a qualifying spot but not run the main, just to keep another kid from earning points. There are a lot of things that can go on to give people the impression that this sport is ugly but there is a lot of great things that happen too, which is what I want to focus on: the beautiful moments, not the ugly ones.

Life is, after all, a compilation of moments, events, that ultimately produce reactions from us that help shape who we are. These events are what I do in between cheering for my son (and daughter now) at race time. Life is what gave me the opportunity to become a wife and an active mom, helping in the classroom, the track and riding BMX. Life is what will pass us by if we get hung up on all the little stuff. Little stuff like, "he said, she saids" and gossip, jealousy, point standings, etc.

I was absolutely blown away Friday night when Greg called from New Mexico to tell me that Nick pulled a tough, aggressive move in the last turn to win the qualifying moto and then go on to win the Main Event. Friday night pre-races aren't worth National points and don't do anything for your national ranking but when you are six years old, winning a pre-race helps set the tone for the weekend and get's a kid off to a great start mentally. Especially since Nick had been battling with a fever... Saturday morning came and despite some wickedly fast lap times in pratice, by race time Nick was on empty. A quick trip back to the hotel room gave us the bad news why: Nicholas' temperature was peaked at 103.9, dangerously high and the highest temperature he has ever had in his short life. In fact, the fever he was fighting off was the first fever Nicholas had ever had. After a panicked phone call home to me, Greg gave Nick the meds and a cool shower he needed to get his temp down quick. My husband then proceeded to do the one thing every parent, coach and rider dreads doing: leaving a national early. Then learning how the weekend's events finished out, without my kid even getting a chance...

At 10 p.m. Saturday night, my husband and son were home. I was not going to have my child in an ER in another state without me. The fever continued and being a holiday weekend, the only options available were to go to an urgent care center or the ER, but the constant temperature told us what we needed to know, that there was some kind of infection in Nicholas and we didn't know what. I won't go into the personal hell Greg and I experienced over that three day weekend, any parent with a sick kid has felt it, especially when your child's been sick for weeks. I can say that after many lab tests we finally got some answers to Nick's problems and he is on the verge of being a hundred percent again. In hindsight, all Greg and I thought about was his health. Our phones were constantly ringing for updates on him, us. Not his racing. Really, for the first time since BMX took over our lives, our focus was entirely on our son. In looking back, as Greg and I have struggled to understand and assist with the effects of being a Highly Sensistive Child, we did so with other things in mind: how would this effect him in school, racing, events his future holds? This time, with his health being so questionable, all we thought about was him.

What followed this huge national has made me really re-think what sports are all about for our children. Having Nick out of commission with illness kept him away from all his friends at the track, kept him indoors from the elements that drive him, away from the dirt he loves and the lifestyle he lives. It kept Greg and I away from the chaos and stress that ultimately, we love. The past week has been very emotional for me, which is why I'm writing this. I need closure to all this, a way to put my emotions and the events in line together and move forward. This is also my family's story, one I feel is amazing enough to tell. It was difficult to hear about the great times everyone had without us, but I am proud of my girlfriend's son and sad, too, that we didn't get to participate in all the events. If Nick can't get it done, then there is only one other that I'm cheering for. Yes, the sport of BMX has given my competitive side a challenge and yes, this sport has given me some great moments as a mother and not-so-great ones also. Yes, the sport of BMX racing has given Nick performance anxiety and emotional stress but it has also allowed us to learn about our son, what drives him, kicks at him and just what an exceptional child he is. This sport has shown us that when your down, someone else is up. It is hard to be good friends with our son's competition but it is worth the work when you find someone that knows exactly how it feels to have good days and bad days on the track. To have a friend that has felt the sheer fright and racing thoughts as you've sprinted at a speed you never knew you could move at, to get to your child after he's crashed. A friend, a confidant, that you have at the exact time you need them. Someone who has a shoulder to cry on when you are exhausted from the sun, heat and emotion that ends with a crash or loss. Someone to toast the wins with you and ride the waves. A person who knows exactly how the feeling of dirt crusted on your swollen feet and ankles feels after 10 hours. What's even better? The crusted dirt feels great when it comes with a good day of racing and your fellow race-parent feels the same!

Racing is a tough sport but it can be incredibly gratifying if you let it. The underlying fact about all competitive sports is that no matter how our children perform there will always be OTHER parents to take on, to interact with, compete with and if we are lucky enough, to make a lifelong friendship with.

I've always said that the only other person who knows what it's like to be the parent of Nicholas and Zoey is my husband. Well, I'm here to tell you one other thing I've learned: the only other person who knows what it's like to be the mother of a BMX racer is the other mother. Seek her out, she just might surprise you and end up being the best friend you will ever have....