Sports Mom: Parenting Lessons I Learned
I’m the mom of three grown boys. I was unprepared for the active, boisterous life of boys. The running, wrestling, the laughter, tears and relentless teasing until the youngest “cried uncle” all were like a tornado under one roof. But as I stand in the stillness of this home now that my boys are grown, I stare at the fingerprints left behind on the wall above me that I could somehow not bare to scrub clean. Those finger prints bring back so many memories. Even though it often was as exciting as “watching paint dry,” watching my athletic boys play baseball was my favorite. Didn’t Babe Ruth say it was “the greatest game in the world?”
Looking back as young parents, we were a bit overzealous when our first son showed the first hint of athletic ability. Like the drove of families around us, we joined them in the wave of activities that caused some psychologist to write a book titled The Over-Scheduled Child. We started with swimming lessons at 6 months and added karate at age four. Then, soon after we added soccer, basketball, football, and baseball rounded out with piano lessons and violin lessons. His room was filled with football trophies and choir medals. He tried the world of baseball. We would stand on the sidelines with camera ready for his big moment, but when that moment ended up being the coach yelling from the dugout to the outfield, “Take the glove off your head,” we soon discovered that the “greatest game in the world” was not for him.
When my middle child came of age to begin the quest for the plastic trophy, he was ready to try anything that his brother did before him. However, by that time his dad and I had actually read The Over-Scheduled Child and were quickly realizing that these activities cost money. He asked to take karate lessons thinking it was his rite of passage after being dragged for years to all of his older brother’s weekly lessons. I quickly brainstormed and in a flash of brilliance slowly responded, “Well, honey, show me your moves.” After a few kicks, swiping arm movements in the air, and shouts of “Hyayh,” I sat back as if analyzing. Then out of my mouth came the words that saved me from another year of sitting in that small gym watching little ninja warriors. “Honey, you do not need lessons. Those Power Ranger episodes you’ve been watching must be working because you look like an expert.” Off he went happily slashing the air at imaginary opponents until years later he realized he’d been duped! He tried the world of baseball, but it was quickly traded for football and girls.
Into my late thirties and with two beautiful, healthy, active boys, everyone thought our family was complete. So when I announced my pregnancy at age 37 at a family gathering, my father reacted impulsively not with “Congratulations,” but the words that now make me smile: “You’re shi–ing me?” For years after this third boy was born, he was secretly behind his back referred to as “You’re shi–ing me.”
By the time “You’re shi–ing me” was old enough to enter the sports arena, we were in our 40s and had sat on the bleachers of every sport offered in our community. We were tired. We were now reading another top seller, The Strong-Willed Child. This boy was testing what we believed to be expert parenting skills. From the beginning, baseball was the sport he loved.
After too many warnings that we would use our expert parenting skills to stop our third born’s fits, the day came when our family became infamous at our small local baseball park. Our boy hit a ball so far it made his coach chuckle, but he also threw the bat. Misreading what his coach meant by his laughter, our little hurricane picked up his bat bag, wailed, and threw the bag down in one dramatic motion. My husband scooped Little Hurricane up and carried him like a 2×4 plank across his chest and marched through what seemed like a sea of perfectly behaved children and model parents. All the while, Little Hurricane was bellowing at the top of his lungs, “You’re choking me.” We waited anxiously all evening, but a call from child protective services never came.
Then the time came when Coach told him that he had to wear a cup if he wanted to be catcher. I could see the storm brewing, so I quickly stepped in. “Let’s be catcher next time and we will practice wearing a cup at home.” The next day, our boy put on his baseball uniform and placed the dreaded cup in its rightful spot to shield and protect. Then we went outside to practice walking. It was pathetic as we walked together slowly with him moaning and wailing, “It’s touching my legs;” I said back to him, “That’s not all its touching. You are wearing it. ”
The quest for the plastic trophy! What I value most are these memories of young parents who didn’t know what they were doing and three boys who brought us joy!. I was their cheerleader and I still am. . They don’t need to be major league baseball players. I just enjoy having front row seats to their day-to-day lives. That’s what I learned all my years “watching paint dry.” Babe almost got it right. The greatest game in the world may be packaged as baseball or any other sport or activity, but look deeper. The greatest game is not slow at all; it is fast paced and before you know it, you will be left with the fingerprints on your walls and precious memories. Cheer them on and love them. Raising children — the greatest game in the world!
Lisa Cox has been married for 31 years and is the mom of three grown boys. Her profession of 24 years is an elementary school counselor. Lisa is passionate about writing and boxing. She is also a fierce fighter against Parkinson’s Disease. Relationships are most important to Lisa.
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