A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a high school state finals track meet. My friend’s son was competing, and the chance to see him bring home a state title was one I couldn’t resist witnessing.
His parents were brimming over with excitement as we watched race after race waiting for his event to start. We cheered loudly for him during his race, and when he crossed the finish line in first place, the first place I looked was at his parents. Tears were streaming down his father’s cheeks, and his mom was squealing with fanatical delight.
The first place their son looked was toward the stands, in search of his parents. And there they were. I thought, There is where they have always been, and there is where they will always be. It gave me shivers.
As parents, we cheer for our kids from the moment they reach their first milestones. When they first rolled over, we cheered. When they sat up unassisted, we cheered. When they crawled, walked, ran, rode a bike, did a back handspring, hit a home run, we cheered.
We always cheered.
And every time our kids reached another milestone, they looked up into the stands in search of our proud faces. They wanted to make sure we saw them—to see that we were cheering for them.
What about all the times they struck out, fell off the balance beam, came in last place, or missed the penalty kick? Didn’t they look up in the stands just the same?
Yes, they did.
And were we cheering for them?
We will always, always be cheering for them.
My oldest son is graduating high school this month, and when he walks across the stage to receive his diploma, we’ll be cheering that huge accomplishment. But I still have a lot more cheering to do for my son.
I will always be my kid’s cheerleader. True, now that the days of tee-ball games and tennis matches are over, I will be cheering from a different sideline—the sidelines of his life. I won’t be sitting in bleachers or auditoriums, and although my cheers will come from far away and be in the form of prayers and good thoughts, I know my son still needs to know they’re there. That I’m there. No matter how old he gets, no matter how far away life takes him from me, I will always be his biggest cheerleader. Always.
I’ll be there when he first experiences love’s heartbreak, cheering for him to move on because she wasn’t the one.
I’ll be there the first time he is betrayed by a friend, cheering for him to let it go and forgive.
I’ll be there when his first job in the real world tries to break his spirit, cheering him to not let one temporary setback define his future.
I’ll be there when he encounters the worst of humanity, cheering for him to see, recognize, and praise the good that still exists in this world.
I’ll be there when his perfectly laid plans go epically wrong, cheering for him to keep his sense of humor and to have a little faith.
I’ll be there when he takes her hand and walks out of a church a married man, cheering for him to be the kind of husband to her that his father has been to me.
I’ll be there when all the things he’s worked for and wished for are finally in his grasp, and when the insurmountable pressure of maintaining that life weighs him down, I’ll be cheering for him to find gratitude in all of his blessings.
And I’ll be there when he holds his own baby in his arms for the first time, cheering for him to never take parenting for granted for one single second, cheering for him to not want to wish away the childhood years, and cheering for him to learn to love cheering from the stands of his own kids’ lives.
And then I’ll tell him to scoot over because he’ll have some company in those stands—his dad and me, the grandparents’ cheering section.