I’m sitting at my son’s baseball game, the fourth one I’ve been to in five days. My husband has left work early to come, my son isn’t even pitching, and all I am thinking is: why am I here?
Deep down, however, I know exactly why. It just feels right; it’s who I am as a parent. Whether his team is playing home or away, whether or not my son himself actually takes the field, I rearrange my day to make sure I can attend. So that I can support the team, and support my son. And because I enjoy chatting with the other parents on the sidelines.
But on a recent afternoon, as the sky began to turn the color of smoke, I was reminded of an article I had read about watching our kids play sports, and it made me wonder whether I am guilty of treating my son’s games as yet another childhood performance we overinflate with importance and whether there’s something more to my self-inflicted expectation to attend every single one.
When my son was younger, in addition to attending all of the parent-inclusive events, I’d volunteer at his elementary school—to update classroom bulletin boards, or as an extra hand in the school library. I’d carve out time to assist in the cafeteria at lunchtime, or help his teacher with a first-grade math lesson. I did it because I wanted to help out, but also because I wanted to catch a glimpse of my little boy “in action”—among his peers, in the classroom, away from home. It made me happy, fulfilled, and I had the time to do it. I was a stay-at-home mom, and my son was the younger of my two kids. He didn’t seem to mind my presence or involvement in the least. In fact, he too seemed to enjoy it.
But as he got older, the landscape of parental involvement shifted—there was no longer the same need or want for parents in the classroom, and the school events and themed celebrations dramatically dwindled. It was around that time when I came up for air from the early days of parenting, and became more focused on what I wanted to do, for myself, instead of revolving my days around one or both of my kids. Of course I still attended band concerts and back to school nights, and I volunteered here and there, but mostly I pulled back, especially with the extra things, and I became less involved.
Yet lately I find myself in a unique place, like the pivot of a seesaw. My son plays high school baseball, my daughter is away at college. He is here, she is there. And I am balancing somewhere in between, knowing full well what lies ahead: zero games and school events I will have the option to attend.
Read the rest here, on Motherwell.