Hey, dedicated sports moms, I need your advice.
I see you sitting over there on the sidelines, rocking the team T-shirt, with your snacks and your water bottles and your unbridled enthusiasm. You’re leaning forward, shouting out, whooping and hollering like this is the best damn sporting event you’ve ever attended. And I’ve gotta be honest, I’m pretty jealous. As much as I wish I could be like you, I know one unfortunate fact about myself, and it’s this: I’m not cut out to be a sports mom.
It doesn’t help that I don’t enjoy sports. I never have, not even remotely. I was always the last person picked when we divided up into teams in PE class because everyone knew I was clumsy and slow and generally ignorant of the rules of every single game. I wouldn’t have played an extracurricular sport in high school even if it meant I’d grow a spectacular set of boobs and get a full scholarship to college.
And now, as an adult, I pay absolutely no attention to what pro team is in which playoffs and who’s going to the Super World Series Bowl or whatever. Yes, I could happily live a completely sports-less existence.
But there’s just one problem with that: my kids. Like some sort of cosmic trickery, I was given four boys. And when you have four kids — of any gender — at least a couple of them are bound to be sports fans. This is why, a couple of weeks ago, two of my sons begged to sign up for basketball, and I (grudgingly, secretly kicking and screaming inside) relented. That’s how I found myself in the confusing realm of people who live for this shit, and how I realized, with a growing feeling of dread, that I’ll never be one of them.
First off, as cushiony as my butt is, it’s not really compatible with hard bleachers and folding chairs. But I guess even those are better than the time practice was standing room only, and I stood packed like a sardine amid a throng of other parents for over an hour (I couldn’t even see my kid, only the backs of heads).
Then there are the other kids. While, in general, my boys’ teammates seem to be respectful and decently behaved, there are always a handful of those who aren’t. And since parents aren’t allowed to go apeshit, I have to sit there and watch as my small son gets elbowed out of the way, gets the ball snatched out of his hands during pre-practice “free play,” and all sorts of other ill shenanigans.
When there aren’t enough basketballs for each kid to have one, my son always shares without hesitation — so it pisses me right off when others aren’t willing to do the same and he’s left standing there for an extended period empty-handed. And when, during practice drills, one of the taller, more aggressive boys clapped his hands impatiently at my son and yelled, “Come onnn!” I had to take a few deep breaths because moms aren’t supposed to fantasize about throat-punching.
I know I can’t protect my kids from everything, and they’re going to have to deal with rude and pushy people. But I don’t like to sit back watch it happening, either (especially not on bleachers — ouch!).
Speaking of watching, that’s another thing: Being a spectator gives me performance anxiety. I am the kind of person who watches karaoke and gets embarrassed for the people singing, so it’s no surprise that it’s difficult for me to watch my kids make (normal, natural, inevitable) mistakes on the basketball court. I know it’s not even a big deal (it isn’t like these are major league tryouts or something), but I want so badly for them to succeed and to feel good about their abilities, that I sit there on edge like somebody’s life depends on their ability to dribble the ball without tripping over it. I’ve got zero chill.
All of this combined makes the thought of enduring twice-weekly practices and weekend games sound like torture. And this, from what I’m told, is a relatively easy commitment. I know parents who spend entire Saturdays and Sundays traveling from field to field, court to court, game to game. They fork over hundreds of dollars per kid for equipment and uniforms. Personally, I’d rather spend a few hundred bucks to install a nice basketball hoop in our driveway, and spend my weekends watching my kids casually shoot hoops together. You know, in the privacy of our own home, where I can yell at them if they’re being assholes.
I guess team sports are going to be a part of my life from this point forward, and I’m going to have to accept that. And since, like any mom, I’m a sucker for my kids, I will go to each practice and each game and cheer them on because they love it and they deserve my support whether I enjoy it or not. But sports moms, I’m gonna need some advice.
Or maybe a sedative. Whichever.