16 Sep
Posted in: parenting
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Parenthood Not Quite Like I Imagined

Sixth grade football scrimmage showing offense/defense on the line

It was 9:10 p.m. We had been at the football field for three hours. The sun had set long ago, and the air was chilly. I stood with two friends and my husband when we heard the referee say the words we had been longing for, “That’s time coach.” Followed by an addition we could have done without, “There are eight plays left. Do you want to play them?”

Ugh. I wanted to answer for them, ” No. Just make the never-ending night of football finally end.” One player from our team chimed in and yelled, “Let’s finish playing.” Of course it was our son. Our son who had been awake since 6:15 a.m. wanted to play those final eight plays. Sometimes all those talks of persevering and finishing what you start and always giving 100% come back to bite you in the rear end.

They finished their eight plays to end their first scrimmage of the season. The field quickly cleared as parents dragged grass-stained children (players and siblings) home to bed. The clock read 9:32 p.m. Mondays should not end with children awake way past bedtime on a school night and mamas who desperately want off their feet. I believe we broke the world record for fastest bedtime routine for four children.

This was not how I imagined parenting 12 years ago when I was days away from becoming a mother. I saw myself rocking a baby and kissing scrapped knees. I envisioned pushing little ones in swings and teaching kids to ride bikes. I saw myself sitting in folding chairs at concerts and bleachers at games. I gave no thought to the day-to-day business that would connect the dots of childhood milestones. There are hours spent coaxing kids to do homework, wake up, get ready for bed, or school, or church, or countless other excursions. There’s sickness for kids and parents. We’ve seen common colds to lasting conditions that require monitoring. There are long nights and early mornings in blistering heat and freezing temperatures. There’s driving, cooking, cleaning and teaching.

Sixth grade football scrimmage offense/defense on the line

I could see the game, but had forgotten about all the scrimmages and practices. I struggle with feeling I’ve met anyone’s needs adequately. Standing in the dark and our boys and a friend huddled in a baseball dugout watching a movie on an iPad (courtesy of a mama who had enough forethought to grab it on the way out of the house) left me feeling deflated. That iPad saved one mama from having to be asked for the one-hundredth time (literally) if an antsy son could go to a playground we couldn’t actually monitor from where we were.  This was not how I pictured mothering.

Football spectators were bothered by ruthless moths swooping into pockets and hair and even my mouth, which was disgusting and gross, but also funny. The fields were wet, and near the end of the scrimmage, I could no longer give my 100% attention to the game. I wasn’t actually watching my younger sons, Apple was, and my birthday-celebrating daughter was off digging in the baseball infield dirt with someone else’s child doomed to the same fate. Twelve years ago I never imagined this would be part of my motherhood story.

While last night isn’t what I thought being a parent would be like, I love it all the same. I know those daily acts of love — standing in the rain, wiping a nose, studying spelling words — will be what I miss the most when the kids are grown. It won’t be the milestones I’ll want back.

I’m grateful there are activities for our kids to use to grow in their passions. I’m even more grateful for parents of my children’s friends who have become my friends as well. Those mothering friends who walk beside me in the parenting trenches, dragging me when needed, were never in my imagined parenthood. They’ve become cornerstones of my story. I’m grateful for the memories spent huddled in the wind, rain and cold or on hard metal bleachers watching our kids compete, perform and grow. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in the ever-changing world of parenting. Truly, on the those long, cold nights when all I want to do is curl up on the couch, but parenting duties call, misery really does love company in the form of the the women standing next to me.


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