I am the mother I warned myself about.
In all those blissful early years of having children (babies, really), I had big plans to do very little. I was full of proclamations of what I would and would not do with my children as only the ill-informed and pathologically stupid can be.
Having no real world experience in parenting beyond wiping, rocking and toting my children along with my whims and wishes, I was wholly unprepared for the day my children would turn into, well, people.
People. People with wishes. People with dreams. People with opinions. People with agendas. People who want to do crazy things like sign up for cheerleading, soccer, piano and drum lessons all at the exact same time.
In the early days of parenting, when they took lessons (or didn’t) was completely dependent on my schedule. Thus, I vowed that no child of mine would be enrolled in more than one activity at a time, semester, season or quarter, as it may be.
That seemed so simple. So workable. So quaint. Now it is as if I’m looking back and remembering a simpler time when we all rode around in horseless carriages and churned our own butter for purity and fun.
My children have a variety of interests. Competing interests – both literally and figuratively. They have loved soccer forever (or at least since 5). So soccer is a shoe-in.
Our daughter, however, is finally eligible for pee-wee cheerleading. Can a person deny an 8-year-old female person the right to pom-poms and pyramids and not live to read about herself in a tell-all book later?
I don’t think I’ll risk it.
Music lessons appeared this year at the request of both children. One favors piano, the other drum. All I need is a tambourine player and a garishly painted bus and I’m halfway to Partridge Family fame!
How can I say no? Do we really want to the be parents who chose to forego culture in favor of sport? This year, we let the children choose (see also: “inmates running the asylum”). They chose to say “yes” to almost everything.
Sporting. I went to bed one night a nice, normal kind of person with a nice, normal kind of life and woke up the next morning to find myself reborn.
I have become a soccer mom. In a literal sense, I am also a cheer mom, music mom. We can’t possibly sign up for anything else as I’ve run out of room for team magnets on the rear of our vehicle.
We live in the van, eat on the run and are cagey with friends concerning plans to come for fear we might inadvertently over-book ourselves and plan a play date right in the middle of kick-off.
Weekends have gone from rest and relaxation to soccer in the early hours and cheer in the afternoon. I live in fear of my 8-year-old showing up for cheer squad in a short skirt and soccer cleats.
Weeknights often mean whisking our children off practice fields and straight off to music lessons. I don’t doubt that my son’s teacher wonders why we think shin-guards are necessary for drummers.
Mine are thoroughly modern kids leading thoroughly active lives. They mix it up, they make it work and they multitask with ease. They aren’t stars and I don’t imagine they’ll be first draft picks for anything.
Why then, do we do this? Maybe because when keeping my own score, I find there are lessons far beyond those learned on the field or at the keyboard. They are learning that winning isn’t everything, but putting forth your best effort is.
That you will win some and lose some and that it would serve you well to learn to do both with grace and ease.
That when people are counting on you, you better show up. Period.
That if at first you don’t succeed, you can – and should – try again.
I’ve never been a big fan of sports or overscheduled kids, it’s true. Yet I have to believe that these life lessons will last long after all the practices, games and music lessons have long passed.
That the basic discipline will serve them well into adulthood. That they will embrace the fact that working hard beats hardly working every single time. That they will know that their father and I think they are superstars no matter the final scores.
Isn’t THAT, after all, the ultimate goal?
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt still doesn’t understand football. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.com.)
I am the mother I warned myself about.