Thoughts From An Unenthusiastic Sports Mom
I Won’t Miss Sports
I recently read an essay by a woman who lamented the fact that she was going to miss attending her son’s sporting events when he left for college. Even though I know we live in a sports obsessed society, I thought, “really?” I can honestly say that when my last child (who is currently in high school) leaves, one thing I will NOT miss is sports. As the mother of three sons I have probably spent thousands of hours over the past twenty something years watching my kids participate in a variety of sports, and I can truly say that I have enjoyed very few of those hours.
I like seeing my kids doing things that make them happy and I want to be supportive; however, I just don’t like sports. I think there is value in being on a team and physical exercise is important, but as my kids know, I am somewhat of a socialist when it comes to athletics because I just don’t care about winning and would be happy if every game ended in a tie. I realize mine is not a popular point of view and, in fact, risk being branded a heretic for my thoughts.
Among the myriad of sports in which my sons participated, I would probably have to say that little league baseball was the worst. Those little league games seemed to last forever, and there generally wasn’t much action. I would liken the experience to watching paint dry, but truth be told, if the paint were a nice shade I might have enjoyed that more. When my oldest son was around seven or eight, the baseball practices were usually held in the evenings and if I didn’t get him there on time he wouldn’t get much playing time in the actual game. This was rather stressful, as I did not have back up at home, and had a three-year old to feed and tote around. I remember thinking at the time that the coach must be a man who didn’t have a clue. During the weeknight games I would stand there with the three-year old who would look for the nearest mud puddle in which to jump because, as we all know, baseball is played during the rainy spring season. Once in a while my husband was able to get out of work in time to make the last part of the game, and I would nearly weep from happiness because it meant I could leave. I was happier cleaning up the kitchen and giving the little guy a bath than being at the game.
My middle son was on the wrestling team in high school. I have to admit I never went to a match–I couldn’t even watch the video my husband took of my 6’2” son being picked up and thrown on a mat by another wrestler (all I could think of was the disc damage being done to their spines.) I remember bleaching my son’s clothes after every practice and match as recommended because we were told the mats bred all kinds of nasty things like ringworm and staph infections. Fairly often my son would tell me who among his teammates was unable to attend practice or a meet because of injury or infection.
One of the happiest days of my life was the one when my son announced that he was done with wrestling and would be interested in trying tennis instead. The tennis thing didn’t last too long, but I do recall attending a few matches and thinking it wasn’t too bad as far as sports went. Basketball was the winter sport for my kids, which at least was played inside, sparing me from the elements. However, my two older sons broke bones in their wrist and hand while playing, requiring casts and numerous orthopedist visits, which soured me on basketball.
For twenty-two years, from peewee leagues to high school, I have watched all three of my sons play soccer (and I still don’t completely understand the offside rule.) My youngest son has probably played the most soccer, which is now both a fall and a spring sport. Sitting on bleachers or in my fold up chair with the cup holders, I have watched the games while also noting with bewilderment the intensity of many of the spectators around me. I do remember an occasional game that was exciting enough to get me on my feet and cheering, but those moments were rare and all too fleeting. My favorite day of the season was always Silent Sunday, when parents were not allowed to cheer, which was generally more my style. I used to tell my kids I was cheering in my head because actual screaming required too much energy.
The competition I enjoyed most was the vocabulary bee in which my oldest son participated in sixth grade. When he won the vocabulary bee for his grade and we learned he would be competing at the state level, I sprung into action as his coach, buying vocabulary books and flash cards. I had finally found a sport I could get behind. We trained nightly and I loved spending time with him doing something about which we could both feel enthusiastic. My husband and I accompanied my son to the finals and while he didn’t end up winning, I enjoyed that day more than any day I had spent on a field.
My middle son told me that I make up for my lack of enthusiasm for sports with extra support in other areas, and I like to believe that is true. My two older sons play recreational soccer in law school and college, but thankfully, I no longer have to watch their matches. This spring my youngest son will be playing travel soccer again, and I will try to attend most of his games because I know it’s important to him and he likes seeing me in the stands.
I am certain that when I am an empty nester I will miss many things about having my boys at home. I am equally certain that sports will not be one of them.
About Marlene – Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire and blogger. In addition to Ten to Twenty Parenting, her work has appeared in Grown and Flown, Kveller, Beyond Your Blog, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Better After 50.
You can read more from Marlene on her site!
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