I do not watch the Eagles or the Phillies or the Sixers or the Flyers. I will happily attend any sporting event; because I love to socialize and I love exploring stadiums. I think sports are fun when you are there, live and watching; but sports on television just make me turn to a good book. I need to be there to get my head in the game.
And when my kids are playing sports, I am there. I love watching them; even though often I am riddled with anxiety that they will get injured or not get to play or get to play and make some major error. When I dreamt of the children I would have, you should know that sports were not the things they would do. Sure, they'd be fit and healthy, but they'd probably like to paint pictures or join debate club or sew their own clothing or read novels with me under a tree.
Note: I did not have those children.
I do think sports are great--especially for kids. And during this endless pandemic, sports have given each of my children a social life and a way to get out of the house in a regulated, directed way. For Lily, rowing with her high school team has been the realization of a long-time dream. It's given her a strong body, a social network and the lessons she learns on that river, well, those are things I cannot teach. For Chloe, cross country, field hockey and now, lacrosse, have given Chloe a chance to take her natural leadership and rule following skills to a team. For Nicholas, playing every sport you can think of is a natural outlet for my highly social boy--plus he looks up to his big sisters, so playing sports of his own is a natural way to ladder up to their examples.
My head is always in their games--from start to finish; shin guard to snack bag to car pool to wins to defeats. I am learning a lot right along with them.
Like, tonight, Nicholas was on his third sporting event of the weekend (the fifth one for the family). In the first half, he was on the field, but very clearly not on the field. His kicks were not connecting to the ball--they were like sort of wild leg swings. He just wasn't there. By the second half, he was there and trying and focusing and present.
Sports require presence--even when the ball isn't near your position. And when there is no action nearby, it is really hard to get your head in the game. It is hard to stay engaged, when nothing engaging is happening. But, you have to stay present, because you never know when that ball is going be waiting for you to kick it into your goal.
All of life is like this. Last week, because of a myriad of internal and external issues in my life, my head was anywhere but in the game. I made it through, with some wild leg swigs and some robotic movements, but I never really connected. I don't know if "the ball" made it in the goal or not. A week of disconnection always leaves me feeling totally unaccomplished. And the trouble is, when my head isn't in the game, it is easy to stay that way--disconnected, staring off in the distance, distracted and picking flowers, when you are supposed to be defending your goal. The only solution is to constantly try to be present. To cheer for yourself each week--reminding yourself that no matter where the action is happening, your job is to be present and be ready for whenever that ball rolls in your space.
I am going to start my week with my own personal cheering section--reminding myself that I've got it--I've got work and writing and mothering and wifing and whatever else is lobbed my way. I am ready. I am in position and I am not alone.
That's the other thing my kid's sports are teaching me--it is not just your head in the game that matters--it is realizing that your teammates are there for you, too. You just have to pass the ball, once in a while, especially when the pressure gets to be too much.
So friends, Happy Almost-Monday, I am cheering for you all to stay present this week and I am here if you need to pass the ball.