Your “Why” for Sports


Photo by Guillermo Diaz Mier y Terán on Unsplash

I was text-fishing for ideas for this week’s blog post, and one friend texted back: “the pressure some parents put on kids to overachieve at EVERYTHING”. I put that on the list of possible topics. Then, I had a parking lot experience with another mom I’d never met, which I have found, can be some of the most honest, desperate, thirty second conversations.

I was leaving swimming lessons with my youngest. He’s a little overconfident in the water and I thought the lessons may keep us from drowning this summer. Anyway, I’m about to get in my car, but there’s a mom with her car door open next to mine. She’s telling a little person, “Please stop throwing this.” She hands something back and shuts the door, noticing me.

“Sorry, we finished class half an hour ago and I’m just now getting into my car!” I can’t help but laugh. I say, “I’m laughing because I remember.”

From there, she starts to ask me questions about swim lessons. My son is going every day for one week. She laments that they only have once-a-week classes for her son. I ask, “How old is he?” as I finally peek into her car.

“He’s almost one.”

Okay, so then I understood why she was freaking out. He’s her first. She doesn’t want to screw up. She doesn’t want to miss out or have him miss out.

She went on to tell me that grandma was going to pay for extra lessons if she wanted them. At this point I really just wanted to drive this frantic woman home and bake her a giant batch of brownies. She was so stressed about swimming lessons. For her one-year-old. And I get it. I remember.

I say, “Does he like the water?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re all set.”

 And she was so relieved.  

She seemed like a super-competent, smart lady, but she needed to hear from me, a perfect stranger who could be an ax murderer and the worst mom ever, that she wasn’t messing up. And who knows how long she was relieved. She might have gone right back to worrying as she drove away.

My mind kept coming back to her and my friend’s text. What is it that is driving so many parents to have this intense FOMU – Fear of Messing Up. I know parents of all generations had fears and desires for their children’s future, but I feel like it’s at a new level thanks to social media, stacks of parenting books (I have them all), and the myriad of athletic and academic opportunities our kids have.

I think the FOMU feeds the focus parents have on their kids achieving in everything. For example: 

If Joey don’t make this team, he won’t be on the right path to make the next level club team and he’ll miss out on skills, and he’ll never be able to make the high school team, so there’s no way he’ll ever get a scholarship, and…and…and…he has to make this team! We have to get Joey a few private lessons! We won’t be good parents if we don’t do this for him.

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Handling First Day Of Camp Fears

Cara Martinisi is a wife and mother to three boys. Her oldest son lives in heaven. Cara is dedicated to helping families navigate life post child loss. She is a contributor to The Mighty and writes an inspirational blog about her journey through grief. She shares her unique outlook on child loss at www.christiansredballoon.com. As our guest blogger today, she reminds us to find the balance our own anxieties and those of our kids.

 

This morning as I sat editing my latest writing piece with an urgent feeling, my five year old son, Nicky, came to me, whining that he didn’t want to go to camp. My husband misspoke and told him to “Have a good day at camp!” He truly thought that it was the first day.  My husband didn’t realize that he had just ignited anxiety in my son. Of course he would never do that intentionally but upon hearing that he would be going to camp, Nicky panicked.

I wish I could say that I responded as I would have liked right from the start, but I didn’t. I continued on, editing this piece because that’s what I was having anxiety over! Camp didn’t begin today and I knew that we had time to deal with the issue. My writing piece however, was due today. As I kept my eyes and attention focused on my writing, Nicky carried on whining that he could not go anywhere without his mommy and daddy. He said he was scared to be without us! This was, of course, not true. He had just completed a year at preschool! He went on playdates without us! He was just trying to play me! Admittedly this was all probably part of the reason why I ignored his whining and responded by telling him, in a frustrated voice, that camp was not starting today!!! Who wants to hear their kid whine? Especially when attempting to attend to an urgent matter of your own.

Once it became clear that I would not be able to focus on my own anxiety and writing piece, I looked up and actually saw my son. Immediately I was reminded about a book I am reading called, Strong Mothers, Strong Sons, by Meg Meeker, M.D. The premise of the book is to help mothers develop healthy relationships with their sons. Meeker writes, “Every mother has to start the process of building an emotional vocabulary when her son is young and do her best to help him acknowledge and express appropriate feelings in the healthiest manner possible.” My tactics of simply telling my son that he had nothing to worry about was not in line with that philosophy.

My writing piece could wait. It was clear that the anxiety about having to start camp was torturing this poor five year old. The self-deprecating voice in my head would just have to wait now too! I would have to deal with my own conscience about how I treated him later. Right now, he needed me. My children are, and have always been, my priority.

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