It’s tough to predict what our kids’ athletics careers will look like.
Based on their father, my girls should have been backups to the backups and the last kids picked. The eternal fourth-place ribbon. But somehow, someway, they overcame my genetics. They’d each eclipsed my sports fame by the time they began kindergarten.
I wonder what it’s like for parents who are decent athletes.
Today’s guest post comes from Megan Lisca. She writes the blog Meaningful Mommy. Have you read it? Megan has a beautiful knack of embracing “the art of meaningful.” It’s in the way we live and how we parent. Parenting will wean you from perfection, for sure.
Please give Megan a warm welcome, and check out Meaningful Mommy, too. (I Ieft both of Megan’s suggested titles on her blog, because it made me think of titles for Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons).
Me? A Sports Mom? or … I just Love Watching You Play
I was a gymnast for 10 years. I wanted to be a gymnast from the time I watched my first Olympics on TV when I was 5 years old. I vividly remember flipping off the couch and asking if I could do what those girls were doing. My parents saying, Oh you mean gymnastics? I had an early passion for the sport you could say.
I became a pretty good gymnast competing in high level competitions that would require my family to load up and drive to distant towns for Nationals, Regionals, State competitions, Invitationals, Gymnastic opens…I was a gymnast complete with the Mary Lou Retton fashionable bowl hair cut that era. I wore leotards and grips and my hands were stained yellow from holding tea bags to sooth my ripped callouses.
I eventually succumbed to peer pressure of my high school friends (none were gymnasts) and started to run cross-country and play tennis. I was on the varsity teams and lettered in both my sophomore, junior and senior years, but part of me missed what I could have done had I continued gymnastics through high school. Would I have continued in college? Would my body have held out? Gymnastics is a sport filled with injury. I saw my fair share. But I also saw love of the sport and strength. I saw bravery and the conquering of fears. I saw determination and pride.
Fast-forward 25 years. I have two daughters of my own. I have to admit I had no doubt they would be in gymnastics one day. I could picture them in my mind. I started them in baby ballet and then when my oldest daughter turned five I enrolled her at our local gym, which ironically enough was one of the big ones I had competed against all those years ago. It is an excellent facility. Oh, for good measure I enrolled my three year old in their gymnastics preschool. You know, so she wouldn’t feel left out. Okay, honestly I had the gymnast hope for her too.
I sat watching their gymnastic classes reliving my childhood. I felt their fear when they were faced with a challenge and could see their pride when they mastered a new skill or just tried one for the first time. I felt like I was in my element. I knew the sport, I knew the terms, the moves, the requirements…I was prepared for being a gymnasts mom.
What I was not prepared for was the day both my daughters told me they didn’t like gymnastics! WHAT?? I tried to stay calm. I asked what they didn’t like about it. My 3-year-old in all her honesty told me she gets sweaty and she doesn’t like being sweaty. My older daughter told me that it was fine, but that she really wanted to play basketball.
BASKETBALL?! I asked her where she has ever played that sport and her answer was in P.E. at school. She told me she LOVES basketball and that it is all they play at recess. Every day. She informed me that she could almost make a basket. Her eyes were shining and I caught a glimpse of my five-year-old self when I had watched those Olympic gymnasts so long ago.
So like any self respecting parent I went on Facebook where you go to research of course, and I asked where there was a little kid’s basketball team in my area. We ended up at our local YMCA signing up for basketball.
The signing up was easy. Thinking about being a basketball mom was not. Before her first practice I was in a panic. What should she wear? Did she need any gear? Were the shorts and T-shirt I had pulled from the closet the right uniform? I had no idea! I never played basketball, I don’t watch basketball, my husband doesn’t play basketball…my personal info was nil. Thankfully my high school tennis doubles partner and still close friend was also our star basketball player, so I called her. She laughed and told me they didn’t need anything specific, not yet anyway. Oh….
My daughter was thrilled to be starting basketball, so was my 3-year-old who I had also signed up disregarding her sweat issues. But I was a nervous wreck. I had no reference to being a mom on the court. Hanging on the sideline. Is that what it’s called? Don’t they yell? What do they yell? I had no idea.
All I can say now is 3- and 5-year-old basketball is the cutest thing ever. The determination, the pride, the skills, they are all there. Just like in gymnastics. The kids are happy, running, working together, learning about a sport they love. I clap and cheer right along with the other parents courtside, who are there supporting their kids. At the end of practice always tell her “I love watching you play!”, which, no matter the sport are the six best words in the world.
I have learned that kid sports aren’t so much about me, but ultimately about them. I just in all honestly told my daughter that I will be learning basketball along side her and that she can teach me what she knows. Her bright eyes and huge smile have told me I will be just fine being any sports mom for any sport she feels like giving a try.
Oh, and we have already signed up for soccer too….