As a single parent, one of the most stressful things I do is attend parent meetings for my kids’ team sports. Playing soccer, lacrosse, or hockey seems like a fairly simple concept. Kids go to practices and play in non-competitive recreation leagues games. However, it is at the parent meetings I always learn exactly what I am in for: additional fees (there goes the grocery budget for the next month, but don’t worry the coach gift is included), a nutrition plan for game days, philosophy of the game, uniform fees (motivation to save gas and REALLY bike to work), additional time at practices and pregame meetings (I don’t really have to work), picture day, and a complex snack schedule for half time and post games. Of course, there is always a need for more parents to step up and take on additional responsibilities, like making team roster lanyards and arranging pizza parties to boost team spirit.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not against any of these things at all. I think they are the bees-knees awesome! But, I feel like in order for my kids to play on a team I am required to step up my game a notch, and I just don’t have the time. I am strapped enough simply covering the basic necessities of life—food, shelter, and health care. I know team sports are a privilege and a bonus in life, but I also believe kids learn basic life skills from working as a team and exercise is essential for both physical and mental health.
The thing is, I want to contribute, I love Martha Stewart crafts, but I don’t have time. I am the parent who is drops kid number one off late to practice (hung up at work) with a granola bar (not on the nutrition plan), water bottle and most of his gear, runs kid number two to practice, walks the dog around the field during practice, and picks up kid number one late because kid number two’s practice went late. And that is the good scenario. I often work nights and weekends, and when work overlaps with games and practices insert more lateness to everything involved.
Game day is even worse. I don’t really understand sports and I am confused by the calls. I never know if I should cheer or not. I end up hovering behind all the other parents and giving a thumbs up when my child looks at me. I hope my kids talk about the game on the way home so I can offer constructive criticism sandwiched by positive reinforcement (according to the team philosophy, of course). I play along with the whole idea of not keeping track of wins and losses because we are now all Most Valuable Players, even though everyone knows which teams are leading and loosing the most games.
I totally understand the importance of preparing my kids for competitive high school team players and the usefulness of college scholarships. I long for the day I can keep up with all the other parents who seem to have the delicate balance between home, relationships, career, social, spirituality, and all other areas of life down. Until then, I will be the mom shows up late with a large coffee and cheers for her kid when he scores on the opposing team’s goal (do they have to switch goals so many times in the same game?).