Christian’s Mom: Slice of Life #sol15 3/31/15

slice of life

First track meet of the season, and I’ve done some creative scheduling at work so that I can be there. Intellectually, I know what I’m in for: six hours of sitting on cold concrete bleachers to watch my son compete in four events for under one minute in total. But my body hasn’t quite caught up with that knowledge yet, and now that I’m actually doing it, I’m feeling cranky.

There are very few adults present who aren’t coaching or organizing the track meet. I see a few grandparents camped out with cushions and blankets. Who else but devoted and retired grandparents would spend six hours at a track meet?

I am here because I have this vision of myself as the mom who attends every single event, who never misses a game, who gladly travels across time zones to see her son play.

I am here because I want to be like Christian’s mom.

When I taught high school, I marveled at Christian’s mom. It didn’t matter how far the team traveled for a game, Christian’s mom was always there. And in rural South Dakota, driving for two or three hours to an event isn’t unusual.

She certainly wasn’t doing it because she got to spend quality time with her son. Christian took the team bus to and from the event. Maybe he waved at her before the game. Maybe he hopped over for a quick visit to grab a dollar for a pop. But there was no significant interaction. She was as much a spectator as the rest of us.

She worked and had a younger child, so she must have missed meets and games in the four years that Christian was a three-sport athlete. But she was there every time I attended or worked a game. Some kids never once had a parent show up even for a home game, and there was Christian’s mom, halfway across the state, cheering loudly for her son.

Everybody thought Christian must be the most loved child of all time.

I don’t know if Christian even noticed her there. I am guessing that he took her presence for granted. It drives me crazy when my son takes my presence for granted. I want those gold stars of acknowledgement. But at the same time, what better shows confidence and trust in your parents than taking them for granted?

That’s the privilege of being a well-loved child. Your parents will be there.

That’s a privilege my son has never experienced before. Parents who are there. Parents who think nothing of rescheduling important work commitments to sit on a cold concrete bleacher for six hours to watch their son’s four events, three of which last for just over twelve seconds each.

Well, okay. Parents who think a little bit of rescheduling important work commitments and may complain repeatedly to each other throughout the day but do it anyway and beam with delight whenever their child glances their way.

Whatever else my son may remember about his childhood, I want him to remember that I was there. I want him, for these precious few years that I get to be his mom, to know the luxury of taking me for granted.

 

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11 thoughts on “Christian’s Mom: Slice of Life #sol15 3/31/15

  1. I know what you mean about hours spent for seconds of participation (my kids swam competitively). Talk about quality time. He is so lucky to have you there, dealing with all the hours it takes to be there for the seconds that matter.

  2. Wow Dr. Ellington, this put me in tears. You are a dedicated parent & know that your child will be thankful one day. After reading this I just sent my parents the longest text message ever thanking them for being like Christian’s mom. They sacrificed so much in their careers to watch my sporting events throughout my junior high and high school career. It is a thankless task at the time but one day your child will come to the realization that it means so much. I am in tears writing this because it was something that I hadn’t ever given much thought to. Your writing is compelling and really hit an emotional spot in my heart. Thanks for sharing.

    • I so love that you texted your parents after reading this to thank them for attending your events! I was talking to a college track athlete this week about the demands on parents spectating at track events and he said he should probably call his mom and thank her for coming to those events. Yes! I said. Call her RIGHT NOW! Your mom DEFINITELY wants you to call her! LOL. I really appreciate your comment, Brittany. Lovely to hear from the athlete’s perspective.

  3. I love the line, “But at the same time, what better shows confidence and trust in your parents than taking them for granted?” It is so true! Your being there, even if it is taken for granted today, will matter in the long run.

  4. I had to smile when I read this – my kids always pretended not to notice me at the sidelines of this or that r=event at the time, but they remember it now. They notice.

  5. I’m sure your son appreciates your presence! You seem to be a very caring, thoughtful parent – with a sense of balance about everything you have to do. Your son is lucky.

  6. I think he will, but because of what you’re wishing, you may have to take it for granted too, right? That’s parenthood. And it’s just fine I think. But I’ll give you a gold star, Elisabeth, because it is a big deal when parents show up. I just had student/parent/teacher conferences, & there were a few “parents” (one of the couple) who didn’t come, & I know that they should have because my students would have loved the parents to hear all the good celebrations we were doing. Also, I think your logic works with teaching in a similar way. I want my students to know I will be there too, & I don’t miss many ‘extra’ things.

  7. Your presence means so much to your son. That support, even from the sidelines, touches his heart … and yours. I agree, it’s the right thing to do. Don’t be like Christian’s mom … be YOU!

  8. Elisabeth, I know you only from your writing and comments back and forth– but writing is so personal that it makes us feel as though we know some people better than we know people we see on a daily basis. One thing I’ve learned about you is that you are very generous with your time, resources, and patience. You are a mom who loves her son so much– and I’m sure he feels confident in that love– taking it for granted as you mentioned. Kudos to you, friend– I admire you!

  9. As a former high school athlete, I can tell you how much it means to look up in the stands and see my parents. I am sure your son feels the same way, even if he does not say it. I am sure it is not always easy for you to get away from work but it is worth it to be there for you son! Thank you for sharing!

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