Most of the time, I am incredibly happy that our weekends are taken up by beach days, exploring or having no agenda at all. We don’t bounce back and forth like ping-pong balls from one activity to another. We don’t have to worry about snack duty. Overcompetitive parents. Demanding coaches. I don’t spend time complaining about practices scheduled with no regard to siblings, getting up at the crack of 6 on a Saturday morning, or how That Other Mom yells at her kid too much.
And yet, there are pangs of regret and worry.
Will they figure out how to use their bodies athletically? Do they miss out on something socially by not being part of a team?
I’ve struggled for many years over my children not really being that into organized sports. I’ve wanted them to do it. I want them to have the experience, to learn, to grow, to understand what it means to be on a team, to contribute and not always think of yourself first, to have those incredible moments of success and defeat, to feel camaraderie in having “done battle” together.
But is that really what I want them to have? Or are those things what I want to have?
I played a little bit of team sports as a child. Softball in the third and fourth grade. Basketball in junior high. I was never all that good. Where I really excelled was on the tennis court, a sport I discovered at the late age of 13.
Even as I played on my high school varsity team, both as a singles and a doubles player, I always considered it an individual sport – and still do.
In hindsight, that I gravitated to a sport like tennis is no surprise to me. I prefer being wholly responsible for my own successes and failures, and always have. Team projects at school made me grimace with frustration. I enjoy being a freelancer because I work best alone.
And yet, I get torqued up sometimes, seeing my friends’ pictures on Facebook of soccer teams or after-football game parties and little girls being cheerleaders together. After years of thinking that it was because I feel like my kids are missing out on something, I’m starting to think that I’m the one that feels the void – not them.
Because even if you’re inclined to be an individual sport – or an individual “life” – sort of person, there’s an element of loneliness to it.
I need to be honest with myself about those deep-in-my-gut desires I have for them to play team sports. Because they’re really not desires for them at all. I need to stop putting all of my stuff on my kids’ little shoulders and rest them squarely back on my own.