I am spending my spring on the sidelines. I no longer commit to birthday parties or barbecues or frankly anything to do with family or friends. My weekends are fully encompassed by sports. Not professional sports, pee wee sports.
Between 2 young boys (I’m talking single-digit aged) we are all-in with baseball (3 teams), soccer (2 teams), and roller hockey (just 1 thank god!). As a working mom, I don’t have the privilege of shlepping to practice after practice during the week, but the weekends are the culmination of all that hard work- the games! Yes, it’s time consuming, but more so mind consuming, and even at times heart consuming.
I didn’t play sports growing up. I was always told I was the “smart one”, so why bother? But in my line of work, it’s apparent that athletes have a leg up. They’re aggressive, they’re flexible, they think on their feet, they work well with others (when they’re not trying to crush their competition). Naturally, I want my children to have that skill set to secure their future success. And luckily, they enjoy the bustling activity and relentless exercise.
Unfortunately, they still have my genes. They trot down the field, smiling ear to ear while the other boys sprint past them like little Tazmanian Devils. They want to know the score and root for their friends, but they don’t take the shot themselves. They don’t have killer instinct, they don’t want to win so badly that they cry when they don’t. My boys climb the fence in the dugout instead of mentally swinging at every pitch, and they may even stifle a yawn while playing outfield in the 5th inning.
BUT: You hear the stories of the kid who picked up a lacrosse stick at 14 and was recruited by a Division I school 2 years later.
BUT: You read about the kids who show great promise and burn out early when pushed too hard in one sport at a young age.
So I’ve been playing the long game. I’m waiting for them to wake up one morning with a new found sense of intensity, an undiscovered level of athleticism that laid dormant for years. I sometimes have to wonder- is this all a waste of my (very limited) time?
I’m not a very patient person. I can’t wait forever, and I wish it came easier to them. I personally can’t stand to fail, and therefore it’s hard to see my children chided by coaches (thank goodness my aviators hide my tears on the bleachers), hesitant to run the ball down the line, picking their nails with anxiousness if the opposing team appears bigger and stronger. An experience that should be so exciting as a parent most often causes me great pain and frustration. It kills me!
Of course, in spite of my selfish soccer mom hissy fits, here’s why I love my boys: they’ve never once expressed dejection, or even hinted at the possibility of quitting. Yes the words “I suck” have found their way into my Leave-It-To-Beaver-language home, but neverltheless- they want to stick with it. They have the perseverance that I lack.
All the built up angst and momxiety makes the little victories a bigger cause for celebration. It makes their confidence soar when they make a great play. It makes their teammates carry on a little more wildly when they strike out their buddy to cinch the game. Which makes it all worth it.
I’m sorry I doubt them when I should be cheering for them. There ARE inner athletes inside of them. And it doesn’t hurt that even though they don’t yet have the braun, thanks to their mom being “the smart one”, they do have the brains to play smart when they can’t play as hard. So next time you are ready to quit from the sidelines- ask yourself, who is the real sore loser here?