18th Place

05/27/2015 04:18 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2016

We've just recently moved into a new home, which means lots of sorting, deleting, packing, and then unpacking of our years of accumulations.

Now that we are in an empty nest, we've downsized our home and changed geographies to meet our new lifestyle. It's a lot of work and very intimidating, but exhilarating at the same time.

We've been having moments of nostalgia as we sort through our possessions and outbursts of intense of laughter as we discover hidden gems from our years together and from raising our two kids.

Like the little note from my then-second grade son, thanking Christopher and me for always making him good school lunches.

Like the paper cut out self-portrait that my daughter made... we framed that one because we couldn't believe the quality coming from such a young age.

Like the paw print cast in cement of our little French Bulldog puppy who has since passed away.

"Memories, light the corners of my mind."

The best moment, however, came from a little blue ribbon blazed in gold with the words "18th Place." It was from my son's swim meet with he was 10 years old, and evidently he came in 18th place. I don't even remotely recall how many competitors there were in that race, but I sure hope it was more than 18!


We literally fell on the floor laughing with that one! 18th place! Why would you give a ribbon to someone who came in 18th place? I mean it's not 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Back in my day those were the only winners.

Once we composed ourselves, we realized that our children are members of the #winning generation.

Everybody wins.

Everybody gets a blue ribbon with big bright gold lettering. In their generation, you get a reward just for showing up and trying.

You don't have to beat anybody to get recognized. How refreshing... how confident!

It struck me how differently I was raised, yet how quickly I embraced this mantra when raising my children. When I was growing up, you either won or you lost. And as my parents would always remind me, "just because you won this one doesn't mean you'll win the next."


With my children, we never spoke about beating anybody, because we always felt like everybody should win, in their own way.

There are no losers.

I never cared if my kids were on winning sports teams. I just wanted them to try, and if they didn't like that particular then they were welcome to try something else. They both eventually fell into their own grove as a result, loving their own choice of sports and hobbies, after years of trial and error.

That was ok by me, isn't that what life is about?

Sure, there are critics who say we have raised a generation of young adults who expect to be praised at every turn. They expect to get the promotion before they're ready, they expect the accolades to come with every milestone, and they expect to be #winning at every turn.

Maybe. But that can be managed. I'd rather be dealing with confidence then with a lack of trying for fear of failure.

Is there ever really failure if you've given it your best shot?

"If at first you don't succeed, try try try again." Or try something else.

Or better yet, just be thrilled that you came in 18th place, with a blue ribbon and gold letters to prove it.