Tag Archives: teens

Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

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Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

Today was one of those days, when I question my parental aptitude. It was a day of kidpiesecond-guessing my maternal competency and sorting through my stacks of ‘should’ve, could’ve wish-I-would haves’. There were many years that I would allow guilt (perceived or genuinely earned) to consume me. I would sling that heavy bastard on my back and lug him around with me. Several years ago I decided on a lifestyle change. With a steady diet of personal reflection and regular exercises in what can I learn from this, I have trimmed down the guilt-weight. With that being said, there are days like today when Guilt knocks me down and his stupid friend, Doubt, sits on my chest and I can hardly breathe.

My three children are so completely different from one another; it is almost a stretch to think they share any of the same genetic material. When my oldest, Riley, was born I could sit her in her highchair and clean the entire kitchen and she would entertain herself with little toys or finger foods. I could put Evan in his highchair and he would beat on it, throw things, or rock it so hard it would almost tip over. Sophi would stay in her highchair for about 2.7 seconds. Even when buckled in, she would Houdini her way out and be out of sight before I could turn around. From the naked mole rat stage to their current stages of development, they have been utterly dissimilar.

So when one child feels slighted by the attention, treatment, or overall parental nurturing, it is like a stake to my heart. I immediately feel compelled to justify my parental portions. Mentally I start making note of the pieces of my love, discipline, and attention. I become totally aware that there are absolutely no ‘do-overs’ in this life and there is a good chance that I need a flippin’ do-over. The pieces of my pie are not cut and served in three identical portions. I screwed up serving my parenalt pie. Doubt is sitting squarely upon my chest.

I have been trying to get a good foot-hold on this parenting gig for over 22 years now. The mistakes I have made are many and being double-teamed today by Guilt and his fool-ass friend, Doubt, is a crappy way to start my week. There is a lot of week that I have to get through and there is a lot of fight left in my imperfect mom-self. It is time to pick myself up and dust myself off and own this Mom-thing. So, I might go down, but I am going down cutting this pie the best way I know how.

What I want my children to know:

1. I am so far from perfect that if you could buy parents, you would probably find me at the Ninety-Nine Cent Store. My love for you is not flawed. It is the best thing about me.

2. The decisions I make about your siblings is independent of the decisions I kidsmake about you. I wouldn’t put diesel fuel in a car that runs on unleaded. It doesn’t work.

3. You didn’t come with a manual. I have done my very best to make you feel loved, safe, and adored. You are loved, safe, and adored.

4. Life is not fair. It is never going to be. I have not treated you equally. I have, however, loved you equally. It is the only perfect portion I have to offer. I will never waiver on loving you each with every fiber of my being. This will be true forever.

5. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. Your siblings are not perfect. Life starts to make sense when we can look past one another’s imperfections and focus on the ‘good stuff’. Sometimes you have to look for the ‘good stuff’.

6. My days are numbered. I cannot live forever. Love one another. Forgive one another. Keep one another safe. If I can leave one legacy, it would be for you to always share the love I have given you with one another. Life is too short to fight over pie.

A Swing and a Miss

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There are very few parents capable of balancing the role of parent-coach.  In fact, I have been on a sojourn the last several years on learning how to be a supportive, positive, and less intense sports parent (I have come a long way).  My husband, Kevin, has coached my daughter’s competitive basketball team since she was in the fourth grade.  He is exceptional.  He knows the game, he knows his players and he knows how to treat our daughter, Sophi, like she is just another player on the team. Where I tend to be a little hotheaded, critical, and slightly maniacal, Kevin is patient, calm, and rational.

Over the years, he is shaped and molded his group of girls into a winning and basketball2fundamentally sound ball club and he has done so without acting a fool.  He doesn’t yell at the referees, he doesn’t throw his clipboard (although he did throw his pen ONCE), and he doesn’t engage his parents in negative banter about players, playing time or performance. He has only been issued one technical foul.  As part of my journey towards psycho sports parent transformation, I have learned to refrain from these once regular behaviors:

  • Calling or texting Kevin during a game to tell him my ideas for plays or defensive strategy.  He no longer takes my calls during games.
  • Yelling at referees when they are complete idiots.  I have developed a respect for the folks in stripes, even the blind ones with fluff where their gray matter should be.
  • Confronting offensive parents/coaches/coaches wives from the other teams.
  • I have changed my spirited cheering from Seriously?!; You have GOT to be kidding me!; If that is a walk, I can dunk;  Damn it, Sophi, Get in the Game; to the uplifting encouraging words of: Defense, ladies; Nice job; Get big defense; and Niiiiiiiiice!

Note: The inside of my mouth is often bleeding by the third quarter from biting my tongue, but I am a work in progress.

The finesse in which Kevin coaches is what makes the recent series of events blog-worthy.  basketball4Sophi had a rough game last week.  It was the school team, which means Coach Kevin was in the stands with the rest of the parents and spectators.  It was a home game and a decent size crowd for a girls’ game.  She struggled.  She managed to get a few shots off and pull down several rebounds but the rest of her game was quite messy.  She came off the court fully aware of the mistakes she had made and was probably already trying to forget the game in its entirety.  But Coach Kevin took a detour from his usual supportive route and recounted nearly every mishap.  The ride home from the game was tense.

Kevin’s recap of the game consisted of a verbal highlight reel of her blunders and bobbles.  Sophi and I rode in silence, both stunned by this critical recap from the usual docile daddy-coach.  I felt compelled to say something, but usually when I feel compelled to say something it turns out to be something inappropriate.  So, while Kevin ranted, I texted Sophi instead:

Me:      The hardest thing in the world besides losing someone you love is taking criticism. Don’t let this defeat you.  Build on it.  He is doing it because he loves you and  he believes in you.  It’s what drives him.  It’s like getting a shot when you are little. The shot hurts a little but not as bad as getting polio.

Sophi:     OK. You don’t make any sense.  What does my bad game have to do with polio?

Me:      Polio is bad.  Your game was bad.

Sophi: Wow

 A swing and a miss for Mom.basketball3

The week continued.  Sophi was quiet and withdrawn, Kevin stoic and silent.  The weather was grey and cold and as the snow accumulated, so did the snow days for the kids.  I came home one evening and inquired how Sophi’s snow day had been.  She replied, “Well, Dad did call me this morning and apologize for being so hard on me about the game.  It started out promising but his apology went off the rails.”  When I pressed her for details she complied:

Dad:    Hey, Sophi.  I just wanted to call and say I am sorry for being so     hard on you about the game the other night.

Sophi:  Ok, thanks, Dad.

Dad:      I really didn’t mean it was the worst basketball game I have ever seen you play in your entire life, I meant it was the worst one this season.

Sophi:    Okaaaaay….

Dad:       But, really, why did you have to throw the ball away???  Your passes were sloppy.  There were so many people there watching.  It was embarrassing.

Sophi:    (Thinking to herself) You have got to be kidding me???  This is his apology?

Dad:       So, anyway, I just wanted to call and say I am sorry and tell you that I love you.

A Swing and a miss for Dad.

After Sophi’s highlight reel of the apology, we were both laughing and shaking our heads.  We didn’t know exactly how to process this side of Kevin the Coach.  Sophi was laughing, but her walls were still up.  She wasn’t ready to forgive his trampling on her wounded ego.   The standoff continued.  After nearly a week of eye-rolling (Sophi) and stubborn silence (Kevin), I demanded reconciliation.  Kevin set out to make things right with his girl and according to him they had a ‘great talk’.   Considering the debacle he had made of the apology, I wasn’t exactly ready to take his word for it.  However, Sophi did confirm that he had made successful amends and was now back in his starring role of ‘Best Dad in the World’.

photo 4I wonder how much of Kevin’s deviation from his positive daddy/coach role was even about the basketball game.  His little girl is growing up.  The two of them have always been exceptionally close.  Lately, her attention has been further divided by her friends, her phone, dances, and her need to always be on the go.  Recently, a handsome young 17 year-old fellow has also emerged onto the scene (heavy sigh).  Perhaps, Kevin was consumed solely by Sophi’s less than stellar performance on the court, but it would be my wager that there was a host of other things fueling his frustration.  I am her parent too.  I feel the weight of the how fleeting these days actually are.  I, too, wonder how it is that more often I find myself left out of the huddle and forced into the stands as a spectator in her world.  I think as parents we all swing and miss sometimes.  We lose sight of what is really important.  When I take the time to reflect on all the laughter and love we have shared as parents and I look at the remarkable young lady Sophi is growing into, I have resolved myself to accept that my role is changing.  I sincerely hope Kevin recognizes his role in Sophi’s life is also changing, but is as vital as ever.  Girls never outgrow needing their daddies.  He might have an occasional ‘swing and a miss”, but when it comes to being a great dad, he hit that one out of the park!