As I write this my teenage daughter is being flipped by a man who is the size of a professional football player, until it’s her turn to flip him – and I sit and watch. We are at wrestling school, PROFESSIONAL wrestling school. Please pray for me.
My daughter will be sixteen in a few short months and has wanted to be a professional wrestler since she was about twelve. At first my husband and I thought it was a passing phase. Then we hoped it was a passing phase. Now, after almost four years of this being her single focus, and after three months now of attending a wrestling school and it being her joy, we’re praying it’s a passing phase. But also:
- Praying that if it’s not a passing phase, that she has a good enough head on her shoulders to make the best connections in the business that will help her be successful.
- Praying that if she’s not monetarily successful at wresting her “plan B” (aka day job) is one that will provide her security, happiness and enough success so that she can wrestle on the side (as most of the people at this school/training center do).
- Praying that she isn’t taken advantage of in a business that has no real governing body and that she stay strong in a business that, in the opinion of her father and me, isn’t very respectful of women.
That’s a lot to be praying for. A lot to worry about.
However, in this midst of all this praying and worrying there ARE some things for which I am thankful.
- She did a lot of research before presenting to my husband and me where she wanted to train. She found a place with a good reputation and a fair fee. It’s an hour away, which is a sacrifice for the rest of us, but so far it’s worked with only a fair amount of complaining by her siblings.
- The people at this school/training center are really wonderful. I would say “sweet” but that might ruin their reputation. Outside the ring they are respectful and friendly. There is only one other female at the center right now, and my daughter is the only minor that attends regularly, so she works with almost all adult men. Might sound scary at first (and it was!), but these men treat her like their little sister or daughter. In fact, one of the more gruff senior wrestlers, who often gives the guys a hard time told her, “I have a daughter your age. If ANYONE gives you trouble you tell me and I’ll flatten them.” He’s not the only one who’s said something like this to her either. Now, I’m not a fan of violence, but I’ll take it. These men have become very protective of her, and I’m grateful for that.
- Before starting at this center she was really rebelling against my husband and me whenever we talked about her going to college. Since she started training she has completely changed her tune. The owner and head trainer told our daughter at her opening interview that it was a REQUIREMENT of attending his program that she get good grades in school and have a college plan. He has made a good case to her about how college will equip her well even if she’s able to wrestle full-time and gets to the WWE. He made the case to her about having a good “plan B” as well. She wouldn’t listen to her father and me when we said this, but she listens to her trainer. Thank God for him!
- She’s not only thinking of what to do besides wrestling, she’s thinking about what she would like to do when her wrestling career is over. And all those ideas swirling in her head are different, but involve helping the poor and politically oppressed, being a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for the powerless – which is just more proof of what an awesome person she is and is becoming.
So, my husband and I still might be praying she chooses a more secure conventional occupation, but we’re perhaps not quite as AFRAID as we have been.
In this whole process I’ve come to a few realizations, and this for me is the most important: one of the hardest parts of parenthood is letting go. Not just the “growing up” part of letting go – what I mean is letting go of the natural expectation of our kids to be just like us (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). Sometimes this natural expectation plays out: an artistic dad has an artistic daughter, an numbers mom has a numbers son, a lawyer begets a lawyer etc… Because of this natural and often unconscious expectation we’re shocked if our children choose paths for their lives that are out of step with ours. The accountant with a child who wants to be a mechanic, the peace loving hippies who have a child who joins the military, the “outdoorsy” hunting fishing dad whose son becomes a drag queen (don’t laugh, that’s a real life example from a guy I knew in high school!).
But we need to realize that our children are not supposed to be carbon copies of us. They are their own people, and it is our job as parents to help them discover who that is. Sure, it’s our job to guide, but not to stifle or suppress them into being who WE want them to be – IT’S THEIR LIFE NOT OURS. Many times, however, this is easier said than done.
I am so incredibly proud of my daughter no matter what she does with her career life (unless of course she turns to a life of crime or profits from exploiting others!). What we DO and who we ARE, while closely related, are NOT the same thing. One can be highly educated and incredibly monetarily successful and also be a jerk. I’m confident that will not be an issue for her – she is already too concerned with justice and “right and wrong” for that to happen – and I’d like to think in that way at least, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree…