Back in my pre-kid days, I was smugly sure about how I was going to raise my children. Along with my passionate devotion to cloth diapers, breastfeeding for a year and all things Montessori, I was sure that I would not encourage them in any athletic endeavors. The odds were that they would not be interested anyway. I don't have an athletic bone in my body, and my husband did not show any aptitude for sports until adolescence. Any of our progeny, I was sure, would be just like we were as youngsters, with little interest and even less ability in the sports arena.
This fit perfectly into my mental parenting plan; as I declared many a time, "I have no intention of sitting in the broiling sun, watching ANYONE play soccer (or tennis, or baseball, etc...etc...."). And this was true. I didn't...until my own kids were on the field.
Yes, I've somehow become the mother not one, but two sports-loving, athletic children. And what's more, I, um, love it. Who would have guessed? Pre-kids, I'd time trips to the mailbox with the aim of avoiding my neighbor, "Jim" who liked to regale me with long-winded stories of his kids' athletic prowess while I stifled back yawns.
How things have changed! Just the other day, I caught myself bending my sister-in-law's ear with a real brag-fest about our kids and their latest athletic achievements. I thought of Jim and had to smile. I understand it now. That almost-irresistible desire to talk about your kids and the awards they've won, races they've ranked in and championship finals their teams have made it to. To Jim I say: "Please forgive me. I get it now. Want to trade stories by the mailbox?"
Ten years into this parenting gig, my husband and I have shepherded Laura and Joe through seven soccer seasons, two summer swim team sessions, three years of gymnastics, lots of tennis lessons, several competitive runs and even three mini-triathlons. I realize now that so many benefits come from sports: exercise, team work, the motivation to excel. I look back at my pre-kid self and can only wonder, "What on earth was I thinking?" (This goes for many, many things, by the way, including cloth diapers!).
I'm excited to see how my kids' athletic "careers" evolve. Laura is working hard on a year-round swim team at present and Joe just joined the YMCA basketball team. They have both grown and achieved through sports. Most remarkable, however, has been my progress. I still have no ability, but I certainly do have a lot of interest in sports now.
Look for me this winter and spring at Joe's basketball and soccer games, and later in the summer at Laura's swim meets. That will also be me cheering them on at the Great Train Race in May. I'll be wearing my sun hat and loads of sun block, granted, and toting a big water bottle, but I'll be out in that broiling sun, cheering my head off for all the athletes, yours and mine, and loving every moment of it!