The weekend is drawing near and without a doubt, I know the question is imminent—What 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.
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 hangover—grass 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.
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.