I will never forget that Sunday evening when I made the decision to check my email at 11:00 at night after a very long day. We had been at the rink for a better part of the day, the weather was terrible and, like so many, we had travelled home in a horrible snow storm. I was happy and relieved to walk through the door and know that my warm bed was just a few steps away. Unfortunately, so was my laptop. I remember being on my way to bed, flannels on, teeth brushed, and a smile on my face because everyone was home safe and sound.
I’ve always been a firm believer that a computer does not belong in the bedroom. I also try very hard not to bring my cell phone into my bedroom at night. Some nights I’m good at it but that’s one habit I’m still working on. On this night, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to check my email before bed. About a year prior I had launched my book, “Lessons from Behind the Glass.” From the moment it launched, I watched my website and email closely for feedback. I was pleased with the response to the book. I had people from all over the country writing me to tell me how the book had helped, made them laugh, made them cry and some even said they carried it in their purse and used it as a guide.
On this cold Sunday night, I naively opened my email, ego in hand, hoping for some more praise. To my devastation, I received an email that I will never forget. I had written an article for a magazine about being a goalie Mom. A lady wrote me to tell me that she hoped she never came across me in the arena, that I had no idea what I was talking about, and …wait for it.. she said, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” I remember reading her email and my face went beat red as if I was reading it in front of a crowd. I instantly felt sick to my stomach and was fairly sure that this woman was going to go to every arena and put out flyers about what a horrible person I was. It’s that old saying, “People can say a million nice things about you, but you tend to listen to the one person who criticizes you the most.”
The next morning, I was still very upset. I hadn’t slept and I just kept going over what she said in her email. My son got up for school, still in a good mood from his game the night before and he noticed how quiet I was. He asked me what was wrong and I told him my sob story of this woman’s email. I told him what she said and then, in dramatic fashion, I told him that maybe the book wasn’t such a good idea.
I waited for him to come over and hug me but to my surprise he started laughing which infuriated me. I looked at him in shock and said, “Why are you laughing at me?” He turned to me and said, “Do you know how many times people stood behind my net and yelled “YOU SUCK!” or wrote an article in the paper about a game and said I had a sunburn on the back of my neck from the red light going off after I let in a goal. Mom, you can’t quit the first time someone says they don’t like you or the work you do. You’ve told me so many times to hold my head up and keep pushing forward but the first time someone gives you a hard time you want to quit, you have to be stronger than that! This isn’t going to be the first time someone doesn’t like you, do you want this or not?”
He then grabbed his backpack and walked out the door to school. I have to admit as he walked by me I wanted to put my foot out and trip him. As the day went on, I kept thinking about his words. His pep talk worked and he made me realize I needed to start listening to my own advice.
I had preached and written about battling through tryouts, being cut from teams, being benched and learning how to deal with criticism from the sidelines. The problem was when it came to doing that myself, I failed miserably. Needless to say, I decided to take both of our advice and continue to write. Thankfully, I still get great feedback. Unfortunately, I continue to get criticism from the “sidelines” but what I’ve learned is that, just like I taught my son, I need to hold my head up because adversity is a part of chasing something you love. The more you can get used to that, the more you can let adversity push you to never quit no matter what someone says in an email or cowardly screams at you from behind the glass.
Even though I may have forgotten these words in the moment this passage from the book is the advice I needed,
“When I look back now I’m thankful for all of the challenges my son faced in hockey; they have made him the person he is today. They have taught him that things in life don’t come easy and that you need to appreciate every bit of ice time you get. I do feel that kids who have never been cut from a team at a young age are at a disadvantage. I’m glad that my son had the experience of disappointment before he got to higher levels so he could handle it as he got older. If you sail through the hockey experience as a child, being cut from a team as a young adult can be devastating. Use the game to teach your kids how to deal with adversity so that as they get older and life gets more difficult they’ll be able to handle anything that comes their way.
There is a lot to be said for repeatedly being knocked down and having to get yourself back up.”
– Written by Allyson Tufts