After-School Sports Are Crushing My Will to Live

Mom Moment 62

after school sportsI got a nice long break during the summer, but here I am again: awkwardly perched in a Coleman folding chair on the sidelines of a schoolyard field. At my feet is a bottle of water that my son runs to and gulps manfully while glancing around to check on his friends, providing me with a curt silent nod as I pepper him with chirpy Mom questions about whether he's having fun. He unceremoniously drops the bottle on my foot in his rush to return to the game, and I sigh and stand it back upright so it doesn't leak into my shoes.

My god, I am bored. SO. FREAKING. BORED. And there are -- let's check the time -- oh sweet merciful crap, we've only been here for 10 minutes. Somebody, please tell me that being a soccer mom gets better? PLEASE?

Actually, it's not even soccer this time, it's flag football. Which is, I admit, pretty adorable to watch in some ways, thanks to the ragtag bunch of second grade boys who are constantly baring their mouth guards at each other like rubber-toothed sharks and inelegantly heaving their tiny butts in the air to throw (snap? Whatever that between-the-legs move is called) the football back and forth. Plus, whenever the coach makes the kids do a drill that involves running backwards, somebody always trips and somehow tumbles into a complete reverse somersault, and that's some solid entertainment right there.

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But GOD, the sitting. The endless, endless sitting. I am too old to sprawl out in a pop-up canvas camp chair for more than 60 continuous seconds without something starting to hurt. I swear the instant we get there, I enter some sort of rift in the space-time continuum and the hour-long practice goes on for days and days on end. Just when I'm convinced that we've been there so long a glacier is going to overtake the field and smother us all, I inevitably realize we have at least 45 (billion) minutes to go.

(Yes, I could drop my kid off and happily speed away to greener pastures like some parents do, but I don't quite feel comfortable doing that yet. I mean, I'm sure he'd be FINE, but at his age, I want to be nearby just in case.)

(Plus, the space-time continuum totally works against me when I have free time. If I left, I'd have .0000004 seconds before I'd need to be back picking him up. You know what I'm talking about here, right?)

Worse than the sitting, though, is the oxygen-sucking responsibility of trying to make small talk with the other waiting moms, who all seem to have known each other for at least a decade. Maybe more like four decades: they were clearly all born on the same day, reaching with joyous newborn fingers toward each other from their hospital bassinets, secure in the knowledge that they would be BFFs forevermore.

Look, I'm not saying that's the most likely scenario, I'm just saying it seems like whatever the sport, there's always this tight-knit group of mom friends -- and then there's me, feeling like Quasimodo lurching toward their shared picnic blankets and discussions of happy hour plans. I do try to force myself to bypass my social anxiety long enough to issue a greeting of some kind, but if there's a way to smoothly insert yourself into a group without sounding like a weird robot-caveman hybrid, I have not learned this skill. It's exactly as stressful as approaching the cool kids' cafeteria table in middle school. "HI," I blare loudly. "AT LEAST WEATHER NICE TODAY, HEH HEH HEH." Then I retreat with burning cheeks to struggle with assembling my shitty camp chair and hope the earth will open up and swallow me whole as the BFF Moms return to their chatter.

Once the games get started, I find that the whole endeavor improves greatly, because at least there's some decent action going on and most of the time my husband's there with me. But then there's the SNACK DUTY. Do you remember back when we were kids, when if there was any kind of group snack after a game, it was orange slices? AND WE LOVED THOSE ORANGE SLICES? Well god forbid you hand out orange slices now, because orange slices don't have ingredient labels and who knows, maybe there's a variant of citrus that includes goddamn GLUTEN now. Also somehow the whole snack thing has evolved into providing each child with an entire pre-packaged meal including their own personal Gatorade bottle. Why do kids these days need a granola bar, a bag of chewy fruit flavored snacks, a bag of Goldfish crackers, AND a beverage -- at 2 p.m.? I do not know, I just know that everyone does this and I'm not going to add to my awkwardness by being the first mom to break the trend.

Anyway, the good news is that soon the cold, torrential rains will come, so I can distract myself by shivering and attempting to stave off the flu. Only five more weeks of flag football to go! Then there's the 5-year-old's peewee soccer, the 8-year-old's spring soccer, then baseball, and ... OH GOD.

Are you in a similar stage with young kids and after-school sports? On the love/hate spectrum, where do you land?

Image via Linda Sharps



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mustb... mustbeGRACE

Hilarious and completely spot-on !!!!!!!!!



This brought soooo many memories---too funny!

I was not required to go to the practices...their Dad said I moaned and groaned too much...but it was my MOM DUTY to attend all the games...for a set of boy/girl twins...which included football [yes, she played on the football team until she was 14 yrs old] and male basketball league & female basketball league...He made me the videographer to try and shut me up...Oops!  Didn't work--so now when you are watching the recordings of the games, you can hear ALL the local gossip back then and complaints/heckles of poor skills on the field or court [No child was spared--not even my kids].

nonmember avatar Sam

Hahaha! This is exactly how I feel at every game!

adamat34 adamat34

Its very accurate. I thank God my boys didn't want be in sports. Simply because they wanted to do other things with their summers. Its more fun to go on a fun vacation, or spend a relaxing day fishing on the Lake. Sports that were designed to be fun and build community have become a nightmare......still thanking God.

Vanessa Poholek Fasanella

Being a parent at the practice and the games never gets better, especially when you have younger children in tow. I used to knit on the sidelines, while my toddler played with the other younger siblings. I was freezing or boiling the whole time, and bored bored bored.

nicol... nicoleeolee

Hmmm.. Try yoga. And ten years, twenty years from now, you may wish you had taken on a different perspective. Adjust your attitude to a more positive one; be glad you can be there for your children.

adamat34 adamat34

Oh my nicoloeeolee, no one is saying that. the lopoipoint is that these Sports have gotten out of hand. im sure all of us love being with our children.

Angie... AngieHayes

My son does soccer on Mondays night for about 40-50 minutes. Its not bad, his sister likes to play in the sandbox and my husband and I get to sit down for a minute and talk!! I definitly wouldn't want to do more then one sport at a time though, that would get crazy. 

nonmember avatar Skygirl

I admit, I did chuckle at many aspects of this, but in the end there in nothing I enjoy more than to watch my kids play soccer (cheer, basketball..whatever they are into). Although my house has been neglected and the laundry fails to be put away in a timely manner these days, those are all things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. There are days I feel that I am living at the soccer fields with practice 3 times a week, at least 4 games on the weekend and other obligations. In the end, I wouldn’t trade the time I spend with my kids watching their practice or games for anything in the world! In fact, it’s probably the most undistracted time I spend with them. I cherish these times and I know as they get older they will need me less and less and I will wish I had spent more time in a folding chair, watching them interact with other kids, learn and grow.

MamaC... MamaCaram

My thoughts on this article is that your lucky to be able to have your kids play sports while you sit on the sideline bored out of your mind. I would LOVE the opportunity to do that with my kids (which at the moment I sadly can't). That is a big part of what I look forward to being able to do later for and with them. As for the other bff moms, so what if they don't talk to you. You are there to support your child not the other moms ego. Take a book an iPad or something to get your mind off of them. Maybe later in life you are going realize you miss these days and wish you could have them back. Make the most of them while you can because not all of us are that fortunate

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