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Sports Season...and Mom Guilt.

To the moms...I want to say it's ok to admit that you hate sporting events. I know how hard it all is. The practices, the games, lugging all the other kids around, games simultaneously, having to choose. Gosh, it's so much, some decide not to do it at all, and others (like us this year) decide to go way overboard and watch as our kids have meltdowns because they are being pushed to the limit.


It's so much more fun, though, being at a new stage than most in this parenting thing. I get to help other exasperated moms watching their kids bounce around, not knowing exactly what's going on. We want our kids to love the sport, understand it, and excel at it, and not for us, but for them. The thing is, most won't. Not at first, and that means...it's not a lot of fun. It's an obligation and can seem pointless at times. Tedious and frustrating, and there's no doubt that even though these are just children who are all beginning, there will be a few on the team who seem to get it. Why? How? What kind of crazy training camps are they being sent to? Then when your little girl or guy finally gets the ball, a mistake is made. They panic, do the wrong thing, miss the hoop, run the wrong way, you can see them crumble a little (or maybe it's just you crumbling), and you WANT so bad for them to have a win and small win. You might dread the next game, you might want to pull them out. It may seem completely pointless.


So I'm here to tell you it will all be alright. One thing is true, In this day and age, kids are being groomed young for sports. It's a bit silly; they aren't all going to go into the pros or get scholarships. It's inevitable that some coach is going to take the sport that is supposed to be about learning and having fun and make it way more competitive than your own. They'll do shady things and manipulate the refs, making you angry on many levels. If that is YOUR coach, say something. They ruin the game for everyone; they need to chill out, and don't back their practices just because your team is winning; I promise your child is not.


Before I get to the main point, I have to tell you a funny story. Jameson, my 10-year-old, loves sports. He's a smaller kid; he measures himself daily, waiting on a growth spurt that won't come for years. Watching him play soccer was so painful. I would drag my two babies to the games to watch in such frustration while he picked daisy and cared ZERO about the ball. His first 4 years of baseball were just as frustrating. He could get a hit but then had no idea what to do or the urgency of the situation. Somehow when you're watching your kid play a sport that other kids seem to have figured out, you forget that they are little, and you want them to act like an adult. You want to give them tips from the sidelines; you think they should be able to understand these complicated games that you may not even be good at yourself. God, we get so weirdly competitive, but it's out of love. It's a weird love, but we want them to feel good, we get scared they won't, so the fear can come out in us like anger or frustration when really it's just love.


All three of my kids are in basketball right now. My oldest has since found his athletic ability and competitive edge, he watched his 6-year-old brother's first basketball game in horror 😂. He couldn't even watch. "What is he DOING!?!" then he'd yell orders from the side lines. We cracked up 😂, it was amazing watching him feel the way we did for so many years. I told him, "Jameson, this is what it was like watching you play every sport, for like 5 years." He tried to argue, but then he got it. He knew his brother could be competitive and understood the game more than what he was showing on the court, but it's hard to know what's going on once you're out there. It's stressful...that's why I just danced, I avoided the pressure of letting a team down. I wish I had tried though, the lessons learned in team sports are invaluable. Even with the worst coaches.


So...again, I digress. The pressure as a parent to find what your kids will be good at is unreal. Not to mention that whether we want to admit it or not, we really kind of hope they are good at the things that we are. Lord, I would give anything to see Georgia on point shoes with those long, graceful limbs...floating around in Swan Lake. Alas, that is not likely for her, and that's ok. My husband was a force on the soccer field. My oldest son decided early that he despised soccer and taught his brother and sister to feel the same. My heart breaks for my poor husband 😂. We are still holding out hope for the nugget.


I would panic when they were all young. How do I help them find their "thing" that will light them up and set them on fire? Give them confidence and make them happy. HOW? What if we put them in all the sports, but one could be an incredible hockey player? What if Jameson is meant to be on an Olympic curling team 😂. What if Georgia would make an excellent bull rider? I mean, for real, I have a lot of weird thoughts, and these are only the tip of the iceberg. What if, despite our best efforts, they never find what they should, simply for lack of access? Lack of my imagination, ability to afford, and lack of geographical options. HOW DO WE DO THIS!??!


So lately, I have been advising parents with younger children who worry about the same things I have for years. The thing is...it's not our responsibility to find what they love for them. We can only control so much of what they have access to. They will discover their passions independently, and as a parent, it will be the most beautiful thing you will ever witness. For some, it will happen early, but for most, it will take time. It will take saying yes to things that feel out of YOUR comfort zone. Guitar lessons when nobody plays music in your family. Gymnastic classes when you had a horrible experience on a balance beam that still makes your stomach churn to this day, a complete aversion to the brutal sport that lays out many on the field (I grew up in football, but I hate how much my kids love it). It may not work out, but they will know if it's something they want to continue with, and as parents, we can honor that and try something new they feel they are interested in.


My rule is that we finish with our obligations, but once we've tried, we can decide not to play anymore. We can also recognize more than their athletic and academic ability. My daughter is exceptional at makeup. I wouldn't say I liked it; she's too young, and it made me look like a horrible parent when she did her eye makeup better than I can at 39. However, it's funny because I had this conversation with another 8-year-old mom this last week, it's a talent. It's an art form. I will not make her feel like it's a bad thing; it's fantastic. She can't go to school with Lady Gaga makeup on, but I support her in practicing this craft when it's appropriate. Will she do makeup for the stars? Who's to say? I'm not going to stifle it, though.


The other promise I make to parents is that the sport they love but seem to suck at, for us that was baseball, will click. It will click, and from what I've seen that doesn't happen until 9-11. I just said this based on pure observation and the assumption that,brain development had something to do with it, but then I did some research because that's what I do.


In Piaget's stages of cognitive development:

the 9- to 11-year-old child has entered the period of "concrete operations." This time span is characterized by the developing capability of organizing thought processes and use of deductive reasoning to successfully anticipate consequences.

In most sports, the ability to organize thought processes and use deductive reasoning with the ability to anticipate results...it's pretty helpful.


Last year I watched a team of 9 and 10-year-olds go from the confused ball hitting and random lucky throws (or some unlucky), to a cohesive group of athletes who knew where to be, where the play would be, working together, and anticipating the plays.


All this is to say; it will happen.


HERE IS THE BEST PART, THOUGH:


You will no longer hate sports games or other obligations. It will be the most incredible thrill of your life to watch your child do something they love and excel at. Have I ever even liked baseball? Hard no. So boring. I made Brian take me home early from a Giants game he took me to as a surprise (omg, I'm such an annoying date).


Now? I'll watch baseball with my kid all day. I will sit through hours of practice to see him play. I will cancel whatever I have to to be at his games.


Then there's Georgia, still young. I have continued to put her in dance here and there but have recognized her vocal abilities since she was little. She's always said she would be an actress. I put that in the same box with "princess," "youtube sensation," and "queen of the world," which I guess would follow the princess plan. She told me a few months back that she would try out for the school play. MY fear responded with a nervous, "Really?" Then I looked at the part she wanted to try out for. She's in third grade, and the school goes up to 5th. The chance of getting a lead was slim to none. She had a long monologue to memorize and (vomit in my insecure mouth) an entire song to sing...alone. Dear God, this honestly made me queasy. I was asked to try out for a school play once in highschool; they said I could sing happy birthday. I can sing, but the thought of singing anything in front of people who were judging me. NOPE. I canceled last minute. I regret that.


Georgia rehearsed her little booty off. I was shocked at the self-guided effort she put in both for the audition and the callback. She got this part. She has worked day and night, with so many rehearsals. The pressure and the commitment is real, especially with us forcing her to try basketball for the first time 🫣. I'm not perfect. She's tired, but she loves both of these things. Despite my fears and insecurities, she found her thing, all by herself, despite my wanting to shield her from the disappointment and letdown. She will star in her first performance this weekend.


Jameson just came in to show me videos he's been studying of how Mookie Betts "creates separation to have maximum power," and I'm like, "cool bro" because I have no idea what he's talking about. Still, he's not playing Fortnite; he's studying his craft.


So parents, relax. Enjoy the ride. Laugh at the silliness of your 6-year-old picking daisies in the outfields. Let them be little; let them find their things. You cannot do it all, it's expensive and overwhelming, but if you give them a little space for exploration, you may find yourself screaming your lungs off with adoration and excitement at an event you would have wanted to pay money to NOT attend in the past.


Let them be little. Let them explore. Learn from them. These are the very best years. I wish I had known that five years ago, so I'm sharing it now. I miss my babies, but if I could freeze time, this would be the stage. It would be now. Don't worry, don't fret, and don't miss any of it.


It's ok if you dread the games while they learn and find their place. It's OK if it makes you cringe a bit. Follow the lead of one of the greats and stick to these three after sport points:


I love watching you play!
Did you have fun?
Did you learn anything?

Don't feel guilt. Don't fret. Get some ice cream afterwards, and look forward to that day when things click and you realize you really had very little to do with it all outside of your love and support.


Find the moms and dads, use those early cringy days to build your community. We are in this together, folks ❤️.


Love you, mean it.


Katie B


OH! And by the way, I have an incredible list on my Amazon shop, fun training devices and everything you need to stay as comfy and warm as possible while spending the next 4 months in the stands. Check out my Sport Suggestions HERE.


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