Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sports Mama. . . Not

In so many movies and novels, a wounded, emotionally-stunted protagonist (maybe even a serial killer) tearfully blurts out, "My father never came to one of my games. . ."  The implication being that not attending one's kids' sports events is at the very least child neglect and at the most child abuse.


I can't believe it!  There's even jewelry
for the moms I'm not!
In 15 years of parenting, I've managed to miss the vast majority of kid soccer, softball, baseball, swimming or track events.  I'm not proud of it, but it's true.

In softball and baseball season, I often dropped them off at the field and returned to pick them up a couple hours later.  To my credit, I was often dropping off one kid at Field A, driving another kid to Field B, and then driving the 3rd kid to tae kwon do.  By the time I got them all dropped off, I usually had 50 minutes to make dinner before doing the rounds in reverse to pick them all up.

And in my defense, when you look at our profusion of:

  • orchestra/band concerts
  • piano recitals
  • fall plays
  • spring plays
  • parent-teacher conferences
  • open houses
  • moving-on ceremonies 
  • tae kwon do belt tests 
I think I've missed 2 orchestra concerts (traveling out of town), 1 parent-teacher conference (threw out my back and felt like I was giving birth to a 4th kid), and all of Ling's "Clocks" piano recital except for the last chord (dropping off Kai and her birthday party gaggle of girls at the 7th grade dance).

That's pretty good for 15 1/2 years of parenting.

But as you can tell, I prioritize what I care about, and even though I'm a bit rabid about my kids exercising, I care very little about them competing.

My friend Tara says she was a mathlete, not an athlete in high school.  I wasn't even a mathlete, I was just Chinese.

My parents didn't let me do any extra-curricular activities throughout most of high school, believing that straight As were the way to succeed as a human being.  Since I never could achieve a 4.0, they thought I should be studying more.  And since I was the oldest child, they didn't know any better.  Screaming fights finally gave me the right to join yearbook senior year, and broke the way for my siblings behind me to do all sorts of cool extra-curriculars.

When 12 years later, my mother confided, "I'm worried about your brother's college applications, he doesn't have the extra curricular activities you girls had," I could have screamed (and did so away from her).

But in the same way that not being allowed pets as a kid means I just don't want pets now (too smelly, too much work, why should I care for an animal when I can barely care for 3 kids?), not being allowed or encouraged to play sports as a kid means I just can't get myself excited about them as a grown-up.

I'm sure my kids would say I'm too pushy, but probably
not in sports!
Two of my friends, both Chinese-American, were athletes in high school (they probably were mathletes as well since they're your typical over-achieving wonders), and both speak unhappily about how their parents never came to their games.

So this year, I'm trying to turn over a new leaf.  I've made it so far to both of Ling's swim meets.  Despite being late both times, I saw her swim all her events, and it was definitely more exciting and fun than I expected.  However, yesterday's meet turned out to be in a Western suburb 45 minutes away when there's no traffic.  I got to drive back at 5 p.m.

All to say, kids, please don't become emotionally stunted serial killers.  Because I'm pretty sure I'll continue to fail as a sports mom.

1 comment:

Ling said...
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