There are many things I understood but didn't fully grasp until I became a parent. Too many to list, but one that stands out is the pain and heartbreak you feel when you child experiences the same.
Thus far my pain and heartbreak have been limited to the physical as my daughter is only 4. That said, my uterus still clenches when her soon-to-be stinging palms hit the asphalt.
As a parent, it's an instinct we can't contest. We desperately want to try to protect our children, to shield them from the despair of defeat, guide them towards the highs of victory as much as we can and try as we might to fight it and say we want our children to stand on their own two feet, we, particularly Mums, can only loosen the umbilical cord so far.
After nearly five years of mothering, I don't think these instincts have lessened, although they have been tempered with an acceptance that upsets and losses will happen. We just need to keep dealing with them as we continue to grow into our roles.
For all that New Zealand "punches above its weight" on the Olympic stage once every four years, we are essentially a nation of team players. It's encouraged early on to be part of a team to demonstrate that you can work with others, and in my experience, you are almost viewed as excessively independent or bordering on selfish if you choose to hone your skills in a solitary pursuit. Tennis, golf and other individual sports we don't really excel at as a nation, yet these can actually reflect how we live our lives.
We have just witnessed public victory and defeat on a national scale (no pun intended). The election is an ultimate win-lose situation. The very pinnacle of popularity contests where you may be hated because of something you said or did or who you hitched your wagon to. Candidates foist their personal views upon a mass of diverse constituents in the hope the public will like them best.
The election is one representation of the way we have to go through life. The saying that we are born alone and die alone is absolutely true. This life is only ours to live, and if you believe that you are responsible for the decisions you make and the subsequent successes and failures, then as much as we can enjoy the social and emotional benefits of being part of a team, we as individuals are responsible for our own path.
To see where the experts stand on winning and losing these days, I consulted Betsy Brown Braun, an American Child Development and Behaviour Specialist. In times of adversity, Betsy's articles are always sent to our LA preschool community and we devour them; raging wildfires, pandemics, dealing with the loss of a pet or a family member.
Betsy says, "Growing up is supposed to be seasoned with myriad experiences; happy, sad, thrilling, disappointing, and yes, devastating. That's how a child learns to survive those experiences, by having and getting through them. It is a necessary part of growing up."
Of course, we need our children to be mindful that their win means someone else's defeat. We too want them to display empathy yet deservedly be proud of their mahi, their kaha and their victory.
Sometimes we don't get it right, but for as long as we love our children we will feel their wins and losses, their pain and heartbreak - differently, but still as greatly as they do. For me, that's one definition of being a parent.