Let's just move to Friday, July 7. Preliminary competition day for IJM. Today is a particularly stressful day for me. I always have a vision of how this particular day should go, though I know better because it NEVER goes that way. See, I haven't seen sleepy time since Wednesday night at this point. After starting my Thursday at 5:45am, I helped my TCM girls through the final portion of interview and casual wear. Then I pulled an all-nighter with 8.5 hours of steaming, ironing, sewing, and stoning 15 different outfits for my TCM girls for competition. I was lucky, actually, because I could have had 7 more outfits to prep! But I stayed up all night long make sure each outfit was absolutely perfect.
As a pageant coach, I take my responsibilities VERY seriously. For pageants, especially nationals, I prepare a hourly and daily schedule for each of my girls for the duration of the pageant competition. I include a packing list. I write in each group practice and private sessions. I help them pack each garment bag, labeled, color coded, and more. I don't just show up at a pageant and just hang out at the pool sipping on Shirley Temple's. I run practices, I give pep talks, I check over competition clothing, and more. I become a part-time therapist for the moms and stand-in mother for the girls in the dressing rooms. I even go as far as bringing the girls to and from rehearsals, keeping the girls while the moms get a night out for "pageant mom time," and of course handling clothing prep.
Now some may say I do too much. Some may say I don't do enough. (Ok, to be fair there are only 24 hours in one day!) I try to relieve as much stress from the girl and the parents as I possibly can. Now let's face it - I will never please every single family but I do a pretty good job of getting it darn near perfect. What it comes down to is trust. Let go of control and just trust.
I want to share just a tad bit about me today. Moms and contestants wake up on stage day with nerves and excitement. I wake up (that is, when I actually sleep) to doubt, anxiety, and fear. Yes, I said a bunch of scary words right there that you would probably not expect from your pageant coach. I tell the moms all the time that they cannot doubt their decision, so why can I? I doubt every single decision I have made up to this moment. I'm anxious to see how my girls react to obstacles, and more importantly, how they overcome them. I fear the unknown. This doesn't make me a bad coach, it makes me human. I allow myself 120 seconds of these negative emotions to get them out. Sometimes it brings me to tears. I worry about what to say to a girl when their dreams end differently from what they imagined. I worry about seeing tears of anxiety in their eyes causing distress. I worry about moms having a melt down and what I need to do in order to build even them back up. I'm terrified that something I have done will fail my TCM families. They have no idea the internal debate I have put myself through in order to make decisions even the simplest decision on attire or accessories, talking topics to introductions, and more. I have put myself through many scenarios in order to predict how the judges will interpret their words, actions, and presentation. But then I get vertical, get dressed, and start believing and trusting in every decision I've made in order to help my TCM conquer this day.
I start to dress for the competition day in my TCM polo, purple Vans, makeup and my TMC backpack. I pack my iPad, Bluetooth speaker, pageant paperwork, Neuro's, snacks, my pageant suitcase, my makeup case, hairspray, comb - basically every single thing you could or could not imagine one may need during this single day of competition. You need something? - I got it. You need something and I don't have it - I'll Macgyver it.
We had to the dressing rooms. I set up our spot, hold down the fort. I carefully watch the time, waiting for my girls to arrive so that I can start their warm ups. I check hair and makeup, making changes. I check clothing once more, make changes. I watch their timing, facials, and carefully watch for their nerves to kick in, or whether their confidence has chased the nerves away. Today we only had tiny droplets of nerves because their confidence kept anxiety and fear away. Sometimes it's more of the moms who have the breakdowns rather than the girls. (Don't give me that look you KNOW it's true!) They worry about their children and it's great to see how invested they are.
I sadly never get to watch prelims in person. I am the person who runs the 100 miles to the back of the audience to see about 25 seconds of stage work then run the 100 miles back to the dressing room in order to change anywhere from 1-8 girls at the same time including shoes, outfits, accessories, touch up hair and makeup, give them their reminders, words of encouragement and then push them back on stage. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It's not an easy job, but I live for this moment. I see how they face the uncertain and climb over any obstacle that stands in their way. I see how they face fear and make it look like child's play. I stand in complete awe of them. I competed for 26 years and here I stand today in awe of my TCM girls in their own pageant careers. My TCM girls are my role models. They have no idea just how proud I am of them - and yet I tell them all the time it just doesn't seem to be enough. They have no idea that when I step back and look at them from head to toe, my heart swells with love for them that I fight back tears so that they can stay focused. They have no idea that when I stand in the back to watch them for the 30 seconds they are on stage that I shed tears because of how incredibly amazing they are in their own right, and to me.
Competition and the results are unpredictable, though sometimes you can see a competitor and just KNOW they will probably win because of how polished they are. I cannot predict the future and I cannot promise you a victory every time, but what I can promise is a journey we can take together. I know that it'll be tough, but rewarding. I know that it'll come with smiles and frowns, but it'll also come with love and support. I promise to stand by your side and give you the tools you need to climb any mountain that stands in your way. I promise you that every decision is not taken lightly and hope that you can trust in my decisions. Not every journey ends with a crown, but I hope that The Crowning Moment can help you achieve excellence one moment at a time.