Tailgating Moms:Not Who You Think We Are

tailgate banner

When my son was younger, I was running helter-skelter trying to try and get him here and there, barely managing to make ends meet, but encouraging his athleticism. I had little time to socialize with other parents, but enjoyed their company while I sat in the stands and watched. I lived for our stinky drive home, and hearing all about the highs and lows of his game.

Today he is a scholarship player and represents our country on the national team. I go to his games, but I drive home without him.

My job now is to love unconditionally as mom’s do, and stay out of his hair.

The Parents-of-Players group at his school was surely developed by some mom-genius, who, like me, missed her kiddo more than anything, but realized the need to leave him the heck alone. Leave him the heck alone – yes, but still be there when he needs to look up and know at least one person is cheering him on.

And thus my tale of parent tailgating begins.

This morning I got up, prepared to cook,  before heading out on a roadtrip to support my boy and his team.

Thanks to the ridiculously photogenic food on Pinterest, I decided to make mini-corn-dog poppers and puff-pastry taco bites. Both seemed like good finger-food options, and anything that keeps me busy as I adjust to an empty nest is a good thing.

I set out this morning chopping weiners and rolling pastry.


I’m not sure whether the mini-corn-dog muffins look more like buttholes or nipples, and furthermore, I’m not sure a food label Bum-Bites or Nipple-Nips would help their popularity or my place in the hierarchy of respectable parents. The taco bites ballooned into something much larger than I expected.

I’m a little disappointed in my contribution to the party, but determined.

As the parent of a first year player, I’ve been welcomed with open arms into this group, who are teaching me how to celebrate the letting go, and next year, I want to be able to do the same for another first-year mom.

I have my second-hand red pants ready to wear, my ‘mom’ jacket and my air horn ready to go, along with the lawn-chairs, banner, flags and blankets.

Being around other parents proud to be part of their children’s lives is a joy.  Tailgating moms are not the hard-core, screaming fans you think they are. They are moms, with hearts as big and generous as the sky.

 

 

 

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Sports Moms – When It’s Your Turn to Be Inspired

football benchAbout two weeks ago I was brought to my knees by sharp pain and then was overcome with panic.

I thought I had a heart attack.

A little thick around the middle, and always in the kitchen, I made a quick decision to become more active. Not running-marathons-and-and-eating-kelp-sandwiches-active, but more active.

Flashback a billion years to all of the summers, winters, springs and falls that I sat on the sidelines cheering on my athletically gifted kiddo. I drank a lot of tea from drive-thru windows and kept the company of other parents doing the very same thing.  As he ran and played, I was plopped in a lawnchair, making sure that when he looked up, Mom was there. I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking at 11pm after late baseball games so he went to bed with a full tummy. So my  butt got a little chunky.

I have been all of the following; a baseball mom, a football mom, a cricket mom, a basketball mom, a curling mom, a badminton mom and  a did-you-do-your-homework-mom.

During the past two weeks, I have developed a greater appreciation of my child’s experience during his childhood of sporting.  How much did my presence feel like pushing? How much did it feel like support? I guess I’ll never really know.  What I always hoped was that he was doing something he loved, that made him feel good, and made him feel proud of himself. I wanted my boy to have confidence.

What I do know is that pushing through the discomfort of new levels of physical movement takes some grit. Trust me, I’ve had to have grit a’plenty during my lifetime, but it’s been a mental grit. A determination to get through one day at a time. Physical grit, not so much.

My body has always had a comfortable ease about it. I was built for hugging, cuddling, and lounging during long, philosophical conversations about religion, politics and gender equality issues.   Wine adores my body. So does chocolate, champagne and puff pastry.

So I’m swinging a golf club for the first time, and running my ass off, and sweating. Like a man. It’s not pretty, and parts of me actually hurt.

I can’t help but think of my son. I think of how hard he as worked to accomplish the things that he has. He’s on a national sports team, plays a bahzillion sports, and maintains his grades, and also puts up with a rather flamboyant mamma.

My old bones ache in places where I forgot it could possibly hurt in the first place, and it reminds me of how hard my son has worked and what strength and grace he’s had to develop in order to accomplish  it all.

Running at my little gym, I have an extraordinary view of a public play-space and just beyond that a beautiful lake in the middle of our bustling city. I watch parents come out and play with their kids, some of them shooting baskets, and others, likely tired single-moms like I was, sitting in a chair and keeping an eye on their kids as they play.

portable locker roomI want to go out there and tell those weary parents that it’s all worth it; that team sports and athletics are worth every early morning, every weekend taken up with tournaments, and all of the leaving early and working overtime that has to happen to make it work.  Not because it just keeps their bodies healthy, but because it develops character and forms strong bonds of friendship. I want to tell those parents that gaining an extra ten or twenty pounds is not the end of the world. Missing your kids’ childhood is.

So, this afternoon, when what I really want to do is nap with the cat. I will likely be running my little 30 minute marathon, because my son sets a damn good example and if he can push himself to do it, damn it, so can I.

When you raise an athlete, there comes a turning point where you are no longer their inspiration. Instead, they become yours. It’s a very hard feeling to describe. Pride doesn’t quite cut it, but joy comes close.

 

 

Friday Night Lights: Being a Sports Mom

A football mom opens her home, heart and fridge to the entire team...

A football mom opens her home, heart and fridge to the entire team…

It’s not about yelling like you’re a creature from a Spielberg movie. It’s not about winning or losing, although winning is a great feeling.

Years ago, during my first year of University, I enrolled in a selected topics American History class, and one of the first units we delved into was, “Sport As Religion in North America”.

Little did I know then that I would raise a child who would prove this theory true.

Welcome to the kingdom and community of little league sports.

Supporting your child’s interest in sports allows you to  watch your child do something they love, interact with a group of peers and take direction from a coach.

It’s about knowing that they’re learning social skills and critical thinking skills as they keep their body vibrant.

Being a ‘single’ sports parent has not always allowed me the freedom or flexibility to be at every game or every tournament, but you can bet your buns if I could be there, I was. When I couldn’t other parents stepped in to help, and when I could, I returned the favour.

Tonight I dropped the kiddo off to catch the team bus to his first football game of the season. He has practiced, trained and worked hard to make sure that he does his best for himself, and for his team. He’s also eaten me out of house and home. What a glorious parenting problem to have; a healthy child.

Tonight when the gang gets there to cheer him on, we will huddle under blankets, eat hot-dogs, catch up on each others’ news. When he looks up to find his crazy old mother with the giant team-coloured finger and tie-dyed blanket, and his video-camera carrying dad,  he’ll know that we’ve got his back.

Tonight I will reconnect with other parents I’ve known for years, new parents who are nervous about how their own child is fitting into a new high school and a new team. Being a sports mom is about embracing the experience, and being able to scope out the nearest bathroom, ice-cream or sub shop.

Being a sports mom is about giving your kids opportunities to build self-esteem, relationships, and confidence. It’s also about letting go and giving them the freedom to explore what sports they love and which ones they don’t love.

It’s also about having a car full of rain-ready-gear, mittens, hats, boots and various and sundry other creature comforts that make braving the elements a bit more pleasant.

Wishing every sports mom out there a fabulous football season (which, as you know, conflicts with baseball try-outs and basketball)…and for everything else, there’s wine…