Parenting: On Andy Murray's loss and Judy Murray's victory
It was only when Murray's mother broke down, did I shed some tears of my own. As a parent, I know how she felt.
I am not particularly interested in tennis but to keep my husband company, I watched the Murray-Federer Wimbledon final. And at the end of the match - while I, along with everyone in the whole world, had a lump in the throat during Andy Murray’s emotional interview - it was only when I saw his mother weeping did I break down too.
Judy Murray stayed poker-faced while her son gave his all against Roger Federer in the final match, unable to accomplish his historic bid to become the first Englishman to win the men’s singles title since 1936. She stayed composed as he gave one of the most heartbreaking speeches after his loss. But when Andy ultimately choked up, stopped and embraced Federer before walking off court, the camera panned to Judy and showed her finally breaking down and sobbing against the shoulder of a friend.
A tennis player herself, Judy Murray was Andy’s first coach. According to a report in the Telegraph, as soon as both her sons could walk, “she was deliberately developing their coordination and movement skills with games around the house”.
The organiser of the family box in the Wimbledon stands described Mrs Murray during a game as “quiet and tense until the shot’s done and then you see her stand up and applaud”. She herself has joked about her feelings of “nausea and heart attack” during a game. In the evening, after Andy’s loss in the final, she took to Twitter and tweeted a picture of champagne glasses with the message:
“Let’s get fizzical! Lots to celebrate. Amazing day. Amazing tourney. Amazing son.”
It is unlikely that I will ever watch my child play at Wimbledon, but as a mother, I think I know just how Judy Murray felt in all of those moments. I know how she felt when she was doing whatever she could, as only a mother could, to give her son the best shot at a dream. I know how, under that quiet and tense demeanour as she watched the match, her heart was ─ as only a mother’s heart can ─ pounding out an endless prayer. And I know how she felt, when she swallowed her disappointment and hid away her grief and put on a smile to raise that champagne glass for her boy.
Let’s not forget Andy’s father there in the stands, either. Will Murray told The Sunday Telegraph:
Andy first picked up a racquet at the age of six. Tennis has been his whole life. I can’t tell you the pride a father feels on seeing his son go into the final of Wimbledon. I’ll be like a swan. I’ll appear calm on top, but underneath my legs will be going like the clappers. Emotion takes over when I see Andy walk out to play really big matches. I well up.
Again, it is unlikely that I will ever watch my son at Wimbledon, but I think I know just what Will Murray means about being calm on the outside and yet welling up as he looks at his boy striding onto the field. I like to imagine it is just another version of the same pride I feel for my son when he conquers another fear or embraces a new challenge. When he stands in front of his beaming grandparents and recites his latest nursery rhyme, complete with heartbreaking lisps and mispronunciations, I, too, am bursting with pride and my eyes well up.
Some may say I have no real comparison between my life and the Murrays’ life. Yes, the particulars of the Murrays tale are different to mine. The Murrays’ are big names playing big games. Together, Mr and Mrs Murray raised a champion, while my husband and I are quite happy to aim for an ordinary, yet contented life for our own son.
But ignore the details for a minute; the 17million people watching, the fact that Kate Middleton was in the stands and the Beckhams looked as posh as ever and that Andy got $900,000 for second place ─ these parents were every parent yesterday.
What Judy and Will Murray did and felt for Andy, at its core; isn't that what parenting universally is?
Your role is the same; to look confident and composed, while mentally willing every shot to land clean; to cheer them on when they need cheering; to push when they need a push. Your job is to pray for their health, happiness and success continually; an endless, incessant refrain under your breath.
Through all the madness, the highs and the lows, the joy and the grief, the victories and the failures you must hold in your tears, smile bravely and not break down until they are well out of sight.
At the end of every day, no matter what the outcome has been, your job is to raise a toast to your child's amazing journey and celebrate their beautiful, beautiful being.
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