M-I-L: “Are you doing anything special this weekend?”
Me: “No, just the usual kid, sports, and birthday party stuff…”
This is the conversation that happens every Thursday afternoon, like clockwork, between my mother in law and me. In reality I am scared to speak the truth for fear it may break me. Truth is we often spend our Saturdays running back and forth between a lesson, a practice, a few birthday parties, and a couple of sporting games. Not to mention our own errand running, new shoe buying, birthday present buying, and weekend homework. This doesn’t include Sunday school and of course the much coveted family time.
I imagine that readers are in one of two camps on this subject. One is horrified, and in the face of this conversation would slink away in hopes that I wouldn’t ask them to help me with the shuttling. The other camp, I suspect, would simply nod their head in agreement while mentally making the list of the birthday presents and new equipment that they did not yet buy for their own family’s needs this weekend.
I am grateful that I have the support of my husband who somehow is able to manage all of these weekend activities. I admire those single parent families where one parent who somehow does it alone. And of course, like all of you reading this know, it’s not like just because the kids are in school during the week the activities slow down – we still have one or two practices per sport on top of homework. The sad part of the story is that it seems as a family we are spending more and more of our free time further apart. One kid always seems to be disappointed when the parent not at their game/practice/recital misses the game winning point/shot/bow. Believe me kid, we are disappointed too.
So, how did I get here and what am I going to do to bring my family back? The truth is, I am not entirely sure. Sports seems to be getting more competitive and demanding at increasingly younger ages. Parents are seeing repetitive sports injuries, and at some point we need to take a step back and evaluate the benefits. In our family, we allow each kid to pick one sport a season. At some point the seasons always seem to overlap creating chaos. We just hope that this chaos doesn’t come from both kid’s activities at the same time.
When one of my children feels a passion and excitement for a sport, and then is actually moderately successful at it, I am not sure I am willing or able to put a stop to it. Do I have a right to deny my child the chance at development because I myself am suffering from overload? My husband and I talk about this a lot. Where is the balance? How can we say no, when there is so much passion? Not so deep down, we do not want our children in sports on a competitive level, nor are we hoping to be the parents of the star athlete. We are very clear that family dinners and quality time are important values, yet still we are having trouble finding the balance. It feels as if even low level sports are becoming more demanding of our family time.
Kids take their cues from parents. I understand that I will have to deal with disappointment from our kids and even pressure from coaches but I am hopeful that in the end my kids will say two simple words: “Thank you.” My guess is, however, the only thing I’m going to hear for a while is “Mom, have you seen my skates? Soccer ball? Cleats? Hockey stick? Bat? Glove? etc. etc. etc.”