I played soccer for the first time in over 30 years on Monday. It was exactly the situation I try to avoid. Marilee’s team had a parent/child game, and I punted the responsibility of attending to Peter. He likes soccer. He coached it in college. It would be a good father/daughter bonding activity.
But then Peter threw his back out, and Marilee asked if I could play. In the past, I would have said a hard no for all the obvious reasons. I might injure myself. I might embarrass myself. Or her. Still, the real reason I wouldn’t have played is because I am afraid of trying things that I don’t know I will be good at.
Failing in Front of the Kids
And if there is anything I want to model to our kids, it is that it is safe to take healthy risks. I want them to know that trying something and not being amazing can be great. I also want to learn this for myself—that doing everything well all the time is an impossible standard that I don’t want to even try to achieve. Doing something at a less-than-excellent level is a gift to my kids, and to me.
So I suited up in my sneakers and many layers and headed out to the field. I was utterly intimidated by my initial teammates—eight men and two women who all seemed to know what they were doing. But I did it—I kicked the ball. Sometimes it even went where I wanted it to. I took a throw-in. I sprinted up the field. I laughed with Marilee.
In the end, this wasn’t just a life lesson about loving my daughter well or trying new things. It was also a reminder that there can be great joy in playing, even when there is no excellence involved. Yes, I learned that I can push myself beyond my comfort zone. And yes I modeled healthy risk-taking. I also had a lot of fun.
More with Amy Julia:
Subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular updates and news. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, and you can subscribe to my Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast on your favorite podcast platform.