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.

 

 

Not-So-Little-League; an Adult Obsession

thesearekidsToday was not a good day in the land of mom, or local little league for that matter.

For years I have been grateful to the coaches and volunteers who have come together to help kids in our city play sports. I’ve been a hockey mom, a soccer mom, a baseball mom, a football mom, a curling mom, a basketball mom, and a happy mom.

I have also been an annoyed mom.

Annoyed when adults with something to prove take the fun out of the sport for kids. I’ve seen parents yell at their kids, other people’s kids, and act like barbaric fools over kids’ sports.

Most of the time I wear my trademark grin, and waddle away silent, with a happy kiddo. But not today. Today I lost my ever-present-cool, and let someone have it. The only thing I regret is that every single parent who has ever interfered in their child’s sports like a whiny six-year-old didn’t get the full lecture.

Let me lay out some basic rules for you over-enthusiastic-never-made-the-team-I-live-vicariously-through-my-own-child goombas;

1) It’s a game. Play by the rules and honour sportsmanship above all else.

2) It’s a game. Cheer for the great stuff going on at the rink, on the field, on the court. Don’t shame a kid because they aren’t a professional athlete.

3) It’s a game. Your ego means nothing. How the kids come off the field/ice/court/whatever is all that matters. Are they smiling? Do they make everyone on the team feel valued? If you can answer yes to both of these questions nothing else matters.

4) It’s a game. DO NOT use the words, ‘sign’,  ‘draft’, or ‘release’ when you’re talking about kids and sports. If you find yourself using these words and taking yourself seriously, clearly you need to march your chubby-has-been-buns off to an old-timers team and get busy. You are not helping the kids, you are pathetic.

5) It’s a game. Thank your coaches. It’s a huge commitment, and a good coach is a blessing.  Goodness knows that I haven’t a clue about how to be a good coach. I just know that my child has been blessed with some amazing ones.

6) It’s a game. Don’t play politics with minor sports. Kids need this now more than ever. If you want to play politics, start reading and paying attention to our career-quasi-Hollywood politicians already in office. That’s a sport for adults.

7) It’s a game. It’s not all about winning or losing (although winning is indeed pretty darn sweet). It’s about commitment, integrity, and getting better than you were the day before.

8) It’s a game. Have fun with each other. Enjoy the time you get to spend with other parents who want the best for their children. Revert to your childhood, and enjoy being out and active with your community.

After a week of over-the-top bullying by adults trying to run little league like it’s the MLB, I thought that sharing some of my tips might be helpful, inspiring, or even just reassuring to other parents.

It’s about fun, learning and not about making it such an over-the-top-ego-circus that you tick off the momma. ‘Cause when the momma gets angry, ain’t nobody having fun.

Baseball Etiquette

Ace the Toronto Blue Jays Mascot

Ace the Toronto Blue Jays Mascot (Photo credit: mutrock)

Spring heralds baseball season, and in the height of spring fever, fans, and wanna-be-fans flock to the ball parks.

Most of them for a one-off guzzle of beer, purchase of team gear, and a slew of selfies in the stands.

For the die-hard fans, the ones who actually go to watch the game, ballpark etiquette is de rigueur. It allows us to enjoy the game in close proximity to tens of thousands of other fans in  a civilized manner.

We do not behave like ‘football’ fans, trampling one another in our exuberance, or getting into brawls. Baseball is a gentleman’s game darlings.

As a female baseball fan, it’s terribly unbecoming to have to pitch a fit. Like today for instance, having to politely tell the gentlemen next to me to, “Sit the fuck down,” I was reminded that perhaps the poor young man was not aware that folks actually show up to watch the game.

As a seasoned baseball fan, I felt it was incumbent upon me to let the young man know that we do come to watch the game, and not how many beverages he  drinks,  or get a rather less-than-awe-inspiring view of his underwear as he scoots back and forth in front of me mid-at-bat.

“Sweetie,” I gently said, ” the beer guy actually comes up here. You don’t need to go get one.” I’m nothing if I’m not helpful.

After getting up and down more times than a sinner at Easter Mass, I felt a list of helpful etiquette hints might help out those poor lost souls who act like ignorant tits at the ball park;

1) If you must get up during the game, do so when mid-inning when the fielders are switching places on the field. Expect a steaming wiener in your ear if you wiggle your way through the bleachers while the home team is either pitching or at bat.

2)If you came to drink, sit down and shut the fuck up. Again, beer guy comes to you. No one needs your inebriated slobber flying in their personal space as you trash talk the other team.

3)Children. The ball park is absolutely the place for kids. If you bring one, engage them in the game so they enjoy it and learn something.  If I have your ketchup-faced kid breathing down my neck and kicking my seat, expect to be given the stink-eye.

4) Streakers. Please, please, please, run faster. There’s nothing like a good streaker to liven up the outfield. I do understand that we’ve become a more punitive society, so I understand if you don’t streak in your birthday suit, but don’t rule it out. We love  streakers.

5) Booing the home team. Really? Don’t boo your own team – stroke their ego, pump them up, treat them like the vulnerable-talented-multi-million-dollar-large-children that they are.

6) The wave. Do it.

7) The national anthem. Also, shut up or sing. Those are your only two options. The time for woo-hooing, cheering, and yee-hawing is just after the first pitch leaves the pitcher’s mound.

8) Large purses. If you bring an over-the-shoulder-anything, or a back pack, please make sure it doesn’t disembowel anyone on your way through the crowd. This unfortunately is for those who are up and down like popcorn.

I hope this helps clarify etiquette at the ball park. Please do all of us baseball fans a favour and pass this along to any would-be-fans.  Let’s keep the ball park wholesome my sweet little dumplings.

If you only remember one thing, please, for the love of all that’s holy, let the beer guy come to you.