What I thought was going to be a great mother/daughter weekend, turned out to be heartbreaking for the both of us.
Wednesday night, after I worked and after she bowled, we ran home, packed our bags, and stuffed everything, including her bowling bags into my little Mustang.
Stuffed under blankets and coats, and armed with everything girls need for a fun road trip, we finally started on our way. As we drove, we talked and laughed and listened to loud music. We arrived at our hotel late, set our alarm for early, and drove the rest of the way to Chicago.
Despite the ungodly traffic in Chicago at that time of the day, we arrived at her college visit with time to spare.
The school itself was pretty cool. Neither of us had seen a college that was set up in only one building. We liked the idea of smaller classes, and the fact that the dorms were right across the street was a big plus. For two hours we talked about the programs the school offered, toured the dorms, and discussed scholarships.
Before meeting with the bowling coach, we took a walk around Chicago. Mario tried to picture herself living there and was quite excited. Although she grew up in a very small town, she’s always aspired to live in a big city. And from the way she helped me navigate around, I’m pretty confident she’ll handle herself well.
We grabbed some lunch, and headed to the bowling alley. That’s when things began to turn south.
We learned about the program and then the coach asked to watch her bowl. She threw a few balls for him, and he was pretty impressed, except for one thing. Her thumb hole was too big and she was gripping the ball causing it not to roll the way it should. 5 hours later, we were still there. With her permission they had redrilled her balls, but that little change was enough to change everything. She found herself dropping the ball or lofting it way out onto the lane. In her exasperation, she started to cry which only worsened things. All the college girls took turns talking with her, explaining how they had gone through similar changes, and each time she’d relax and try again.
When we were completely exhausted, she exchanged phone numbers with one of the girls and we made the 3 hour drive back to the hotel.
Both of us were scared. She was to bowl in the regional tournament for her high school bowling on Saturday – a tournament she had been looking forward to all season. She had been confident she would go in and kick butt, but now, she was so afraid of the ball lofting into the air, that she was no longer confident.
On our way home Friday, we stopped at a bowling alley to throw a few balls. She began to feel a little more confident, but that night, after we arrived home, she had practice with her team. She lofted the ball quite a few times and crumbled into tears. We were running out of time as the tournament was the following morning.
Long after the others had gone, Mario and I stayed and practiced some more. I kept her calm, reminded her to keep her hand relaxed, and we drilled and drilled and drilled. Once again, we arrived home exhausted, and still a little nervous about the tournament. I cried myself to sleep.
Long story short (or is it too late for that?), she bowled one game in the tournament. After she lofted the ball the third time, she didn’t want to let her team down. She asked the coach to pull her out, knowing that she would no longer be able to advance individually by doing that. She bravely held her head up and cheered her team on for the next 5 games. She watched as her good friend Alice excelled into the top spot, and smiled right along with her. I held back tears knowing she wished she could have been in that spot with her.
This was it for her Junior year of bowling. Not quite the end she had imagined.
We both know this was the right change. With practice and time, she will be back to her normal self, and will accelerate to the top. I know it. She knows it.
But right now, we’re heartbroken.