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Mom, I won my race!”

Tears instantly sprang to my eyes as I sat in the parking lot 40 miles away from one of my twin daughters who just competed in a cross-country meet.

“I’m so proud of you! I knew you could do it. How did your sister do?” I typed quickly.

“She beat her personal best,” she instantly replied.

The truth was, I already knew she won the race, and that her twin sister did great, too. Knowing I was broken-hearted that I couldn’t go to support my girls, a dear friend texted me updates throughout the meet while I waited for my youngest daughter to finish a soccer scrimmage two towns away in the opposite direction. Every time I received a message, I hurriedly texted my husband who was boarding a plane across the country and dying to know how all three of his kids were faring.

We both wanted to be there to support our girls, but until they perfect cloning, sometimes it’s just not possible to be in two places at once.

So, I’m thankful to my friend—and all the other parents—who stood in for me, who cheered for my kids, who supported their efforts and accomplishments, because I couldn’t be there.

Last week, my mom friend who works in the city called me in tears. She missed her train and couldn’t get to her daughter’s soccer game. She normally calls in the grandparents, but they were away on vacation, and her husband was stuck in a meeting.

I knew what that guilt felt like, wanting to be there for your child but circumstances not allowing it. You watch the minutes tick by, wondering if you were the only parent not there and wishing teleportation was real.

So, the other parents and I sent her some video and updates every 15 minutes.

She rolled in just as the final seconds ticked off, and she was able to talk to her daughter about it even though she couldn’t be there.

I don’t know one single parent who doesn’t try to be at games, recitals, school events, or any other important activity for their kids. We want our sons and daughters to see our faces in the stands, hear us cheering loudly on the sidelines, and come up to us at the end for support and a hug after a tough game or congratulations for a job well done.

But sometimes, your job isn’t flexible enough for you to leave at 3:30 p.m. twice a week to make every after-school game. Or, you have three kids and your spouse travels, so you have to pick and choose based on carpools. Or, your work commute is more than an hour and despite your best efforts, traffic wouldn’t cooperate.

Not to mention that sports, in particular, has changed so much since we were kids. While there used to be one game on Saturday, there are now two to three per week, and sometimes more than 50 miles away.

It truly is a privilege when you can attend all your children’s activities.

So, thanks to the parents who cheer for the kids whose mom or dad can’t be there. Thank you for encouraging them when they strike out or offering a high-five for a big play. Thanks for providing them a snack before the event or snapping a photo during their solo. Thanks for sending play-by-play updates during a missed game or a video of the winning score.

Thanks for letting our kids know they matter when we can’t be there, friend.

And know there are parents who will do the same for you.

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

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