First, let me say that I am about as unathletic as it gets. Back in middle school I tried to play volleyball in gym class and got hit in the head with the ball almost immediately. I'm just uncoordinated and I hate sweating—two pretty important requirements for any sport. That's a picture of me drenched in sweat at a recent football game...see how I'm not handling it very well? So when Brady told me last year that it was his dream to play tackle football, I kind of thought he would give up asking and we could just go on our merry way into more familiar after school activities. Well, I guessed wrong and he proceeded to nag me the entire year about how he wanted to play football and how it was going to be the best sport ever.
Since I like to make lemonade out of lemons, I thought maybe there was an advantage to Brady wanting to play football. After all, Aubrey had done cheerleading in the past and as part of Pop Warner, both kids could play football and cheer at the same time. For a mom this is like liquid gold—less carting around everywhere, less having to keep track of multiple schedules, and maybe even more bonding time for my two oldest darlings, right?
Let me take you into the life of a sports mom. It is a terrifying place for some and not for the weak of heart. After forking over hundreds of dollars in enrollment fees (ouch), the real fun begins. First thing on the agenda was the football team meeting and equipment hand out. The meeting address was at a park I had never been before...and let me tell you there are a lot of picnic tables with people as far as the eye can see, so it is pretty hard to figure out where the heck the people you need to be meeting are. After a bit of wandering around the park, I found the manliest group of people I could and of course it was the football meeting. Now what you may not know is that earlier that day I woke up with my eyeball burning. I could barely keep my right eye open, yet I was determined to go to this equipment handout regardless. I was wearing my glasses and feeling like world's worst dressed mom, and of course the sun was blazing bright which made my eye burn even worse. Burning eyeball and all, we made it through and came out victorious with pads and a helmet.
Cheerleading uniform fittings came next. Well in advance I had told Aubrey that we would be going to the fitting and to wear a swimsuit underneath her dress so that she could easily try on the uniforms. We arrive at the location, with no signs on where to go once arriving at the building, and I wander my way up to the front door with Aubrey in the pouring rain. We head into the building and down the hallway, and successfully find the cheerleading area. Aubrey goes over to one of the tables, crouches down, and then pops back up wearing probably the worst swim suit choice she could have picked. The entire front of the swimsuit had ruffles and definitely wasn't meant for easy changes. My daughter who is never ever shy then starts hiding behind the table acting embarrassed that she is in a swim suit. Since when is she modest I'd like to know? This is the same girl that I have to yell at on a nightly basis to put pajamas on and stop walking around in her underwear. I mean, seriously? I did have to laugh a little that we were shoving the ruffles into the cheer tops, because you seriously can't make this kind of thing up!
Then came practice...so many practices, y'all. Every day for two weeks straight Brady and Aubrey headed to the field to get their training done. Did I mention that we live in Florida and it's August? Sitting out there at practice was like being on the surface of the sun. But, I decided I was going to take my extreme non-outdoorsy mom self and get out of my comfort zone and into the wilderness. Best purchase you can make as a sports mom is to invest in a sun shelter. My sanity could not have made it through 100 hours of blazing hot sun otherwise. I also recommend a portable fan. Do you look slightly ridiculous sitting there in your shelter with your fan? Yes. But I guarantee you will be a happier mom when the kids get done.
Best part of practice week was when Brady came home after practice each night complaining about how hard it was and how much he didn't want to go. At one point he even told me that insisting he join football was the, "biggest mistake of my life!" Now for a 9 year old, that of course must mean it's a pretty big mistake, right? Wrong. Let me tell you something. I began to see a change in my son. I began to see a maturity developing within him. I began to see him nurturing other players that were struggling, laughing and joking around with the other boys, and best of all, treating me with more respect and appreciation than ever before.
You see, even though Brady would ignore me for those hours sitting on the side lines at practice because I was his mom and therefore the least coolest person on the planet, there was something changing inside him. He began to really notice me as his mother. Most of the time so much of what we as mom's do each day is never actually noticed or appreciated. But my child started noticing that I was the one going on special trips to the store to buy mouth guards, I was the one sitting there for hours watching and cheering him on, I was the one that told him I was proud of his hard work each night after practice, and I was the one that buckled him into his pads on game day. Finally, my child was seeing me in a different light. He genuinely appreciated me and it felt great.
So to my sports moms out there let me just say that you are amazing mothers. I don't care if it's football, baseball, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, or anything else. It is hard work keeping our kids organized, carting them around to practices and games, and keeping even a moment of our day available for ourselves. But let me tell you this—your kids notice. Keep up the hard work, keep cheering your baby on from the side lines, because they are noticing. They see the hard work and sacrifices you are making each day and they will never forget this time in their lives. And neither will you. So go grab your sun shade, Yeti tumbler, and portable fan and get back to the side lines with a pep in your step. You've got this!