Have you ever noticed that parenthood has a way of magnifying our own individual fears and shortcomings? Especially when we see our own anxieties mirrored through our child’s actions. As parents, above and beyond all else, we want what is best for our kids, and sometimes in order to model what’s best—we have to kick our fears to the curb.
The following is one mom’s tale of how she did just that…
Score One for Mom
A guest post by Teresa McCarthy
I was the kid who stayed far away from team sports.
To be more exact, I was the kid who took “special gym”. Nowadays, I’m sure there would be a more politically correct term like “OT” or “Character Development”, but back in 1981 I was known as: the girl in special gym. I was pulled out of first grade academics to have dodge balls thrown at me by the gym teacher (supposedly) to improve my hand/eye coordination.
The fact that I was not athletic nor very coordinated has stuck with me for most of my life.
Since elementary school gym I’m happy to report that I’ve excelled in many other facets of my life. I’ve also managed to participate in many physical activities, yet only as a solo act (i.e. bowling, horse-back riding, hiking, kayaking & yoga). Why? I felt I knew my limits.
The truth is, I was too afraid to join a team—even if only recreational—because I didn’t want to let anyone down with my inabilities. I still thought of myself as “the girl in special gym.”
That is, until I saw myself reflected through the eyes of my daughter.
When my oldest daughter Gracie was 4, some of her friends began playing soccer and joining little league teams. Again and again I would ask Gracie if she wanted to participate, but her answer was always, “No. I just like to dance by myself Mommy.”
Whoosh! Just like that, all of my own insecurities came rushing back.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (I thought). Gracie was avoiding team sports just as I always had. The thing is, modeling a healthy lifestyle for Gracie (who is now 7) and her younger sister Anna (currently 4) is of the utmost importance to me. I began to understand that maybe I might have to stretch out of my comfort zone in order for Gracie to consider stretching beyond hers…
For better or worse, I decided to join the Spicy Cajones.
As absurd as it may sound, I joined an adult woman’s kickball league. Although, I had a few friends already on the team, the majority of women were strangers to me. I was a nervous wreck as I walked into my 1st practice. I discovered very quickly that some ladies take kickball pretty seriously! Yet miraculously I found a group of super encouraging women who can find the fun in any game—win or lose.
Most people recognize our team is the “Bad News Bears” of women’s kickball. I’m not exaggerating, we lose every game! (However, we did tie once!) After two seasons we’ve (slightly) improved, yet win or lose we get out there and play.
We play every. single. game with gusto.
My daughters watch me
make a fool of myself.
They cheer me on when I miraculously make it to first base or when I catch the ball.
(They see me whiff and drop the ball plenty too!)
They root me on and tell me over (and over) that they still love me when we lose.
More than anything else, what I love is that they see Mommy being a part of a team. They see me as someone who doesn’t have to be perfect at everything I do. They see me trying and smiling, win or lose.
A far cry from my days of “special gym.”
Score one for mom (and hopefully for my daughter Gracie too).
Leave a Comment: Have you ever faced a fear head on after seeing your own anxieties reflected in your child? Please help us give a warm welcome to Teresa McCarthy for sharing her fear-fighting story with us on Mothers’ Central.
Teresa McCarthy resides in Long Beach, NY and is the mother of daughters Gracie and Anna. A former children’s librarian, Teresa is a stay at home mom who dabbles in the family business (the operation of 5 bowling centers) whenever she can. Additionally she volunteers as president of the pre-school PTA, is a Girl Scout troop leader and assists with many community fundraisers and events. Teresa is grateful for her supportive husband Jack and to live just a quick boardwalk bike ride away from her parents.