So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

The weekend is drawing near and without a doubt, I know the question is imminentWhat are you doing this weekend? There is always a sense of inquisitiveness and optimism that my answer will be intriguing, fascinating, or strike envy. That sentiment quickly dissipates when the answer is “we have games” nine times out of 10. The deadpan stares and one-syllable retorts have become commonplace. The only variant to that reaction is the spontaneous ask to come to girls’ night out, and that is met more with a pity-felt “Awww, well maybe next time.” Spoiler alert: There really never is a next time because the next time “next time” comes around, there are games, tournaments, practices, or parties. 

I get the head-cocked, confused, and lifted eyebrow look sometimes. They struggle to comprehend why I’d chose to spend all my spare time that way. 

RELATED: Watching My Kids Play Sports is Worth the Hassle

The truth is, there is no such thing anymore as spare time or nights off. 

I spend my nights packing soccer bags, filling water bottles, and lugging around a literal wagon full of gear. My cardio consists of running from one kid’s soccer game to the other kids’ baseball game and back again.

I cheer supportively from the sidelines and cry in solidarity in the car when the outcomes are disappointing.

I have several team apps on my phone that send me more notifications then I get texts from my family and friends. My car is in a perpetual state of weekend hangovergrass in the floor mats and remnants in the seatbacks of snacks eaten during our commute. I am constantly gathering up the shrapnel of discarded uniforms around the house. I say “let’s go” more than a collegiate cheerleading squad in any given week.

I sit bundled up and freezing in the early morning and late-night winters. In the spring and summer, I swelter, melting into my chair. Most nights, I don’t get to eat dinner until everyone has gone to bed and by then, I’m so exhausted I just opt for the very little amount of sleep I can get instead. 

RELATED: Dear Youth Sports Parents: The Only Words Your Child Needs to Hear From You Are, “I Love Watching You Play”

So why do I intentionally chose to live this sideline life? Is it worth the hassle, the stress, the lack of flexibility and freedom?

It is one hundred percent worth it.

I choose to do it because the tiny humans I made look over to those sidelines or up into the stands, checking to see if I’m watching. I’m always there. I’m there for no one else but them. I’m watching every kick, every swing, every cartwheel. I’m arguing with the referees and giving high fives to the other parents. 

I chose them. I’ll choose them every time. I choose to be there instead of at the gym or brunch or sleeping in because I can’t stand the thought of them looking over after scoring a goal, or getting an RBI, or landing a back handspring and me not being there to see it. 

RELATED: Youth Sports Parents: Instead of Raising Star Athletes, Let’s Raise Team Players

I’m not completely delusional, though, I know it’s heartbreakingly inevitable that it won’t always be this way. One day, they won’t need me to shuttle them around or provide their hype music on the drive to the big game. They won’t need me to bring the team treats and bring pasta salad to the team potluck. They will look for other people in the crowds or won’t look at all.

I just know that even though those days may come, a day may also come when they interview my not-so-tiny-anymore humans and they say, “My mom was always there. She didn’t have to be, but she chose to be.”

So, feel bad for me over mimosas and spin bikes that I’m stuck at soccer. Text me, “Wish you were here,” and I’ll respond with, “Wish I was, too,” while my butt is going numb on unnecessarily uncomfortable bleacher seats. Invite me out, even though the answer will most likely be a polite decline on my part. The sideline life doesn’t choose you, you choose it.

Nickey J Dunn

I'm a full-time wife, mom of three, employee, OCD Irish Aries. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest, now living in Phoenix. I'm passionate about my family, writing, and writing about my family. Mental health, anti-bullying, and body-positive advocate. 

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Having the Tools To Parent a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder Changes Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child playing with water in tube

My heart leaped into my mouth as Soccer Mom, with her matching foldable chairs and ice-cold Gatorade, glared at me. I wanted to explain how hard I tried to be a good mom, to raise a kind human, but I swallowed the words so I could vomit them at my 5-year-old son on the ride home.   Didn’t he know that pushing another child was unacceptable? Hadn’t I taught him to use gentle hands?   RELATED: To the Special Needs Mom Who Sits Alone Despite implementing the parenting books that promised me a new kid by the week’s end, I often wondered...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergartner, I’ll Always Remember You This Way

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child touch foreheads

The first magical flickers of your strong heartbeat on a black and white screen— the reassuring evidence I needed to know you were gaining strength for this world. My belly grew, and I proudly went shopping for maternity clothes to cover it. I felt the first dances of your little feet, and it reminded me of butterflies taking flight— the movement of a true miracle. I’ll always remember you this way. The sounds of your first cries—music ringing in my ears. You were real, Earth-side, and wanting only to be loved. The softness of your skin, the way you smelled,...

Keep Reading

There’s No Instruction Manual for These Middle Years

In: Kids
Little girl smiling on porch

As a preschool teacher and a mom, I’ve always felt pretty confident in my parenting from ages birth to 5 years old.  I by no means am perfect, and I silently rejoiced the day my kids could pour their own cereal and turn on Netflix for themselves while I caught some extra sleep. Even though that’s probably not a proud mama moment to celebrate, it’s just the reality of parenting.  We both celebrate and mourn independence as our children need us less. And let’s be honest, oftentimes independence makes our daily lives easier. Yet it is bittersweet.  It feels like...

Keep Reading

I’m Halfway Through Raising Little Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two girls smiling outside

Today I stayed in my car a few minutes more than usual as my kids hopped out onto the hot driveway and ran inside. The cold air conditioning felt amazing after a long day at the local water park; so did the silence. Then it felt odd, so I turned on the radio. The song that started playing hit my soul: “Woah, we’re halfway there/Woah, livin’ on a prayer.” I’m always living on a prayer, but I also noticed we are halfway there. RELATED: Growing Up, You First Then Me Halfway through the year, more than halfway through summer, and...

Keep Reading

Kindergarten is the Start of Letting You Go

In: Kids, Motherhood

We’re physically ready for kindergarten. We’ve got the backpack, the school supplies, the school clothes, and the new shoes. We’ve talked about it all summer. We’ve practiced the skills he will need, and how to open everything inside of a cold lunch box. We’ve talked positively about it and imagined all the friends he will meet and the places he will go, and how kind and caring the teacher will be. We’re physically ready for kindergarten. But here’s a little secret . . . My heart? My heart can’t fully be ready for him to go to kindergarten. I know...

Keep Reading