Funny and Authentic Mom Reflections From My Time on the Sidelines

Updated on July 26, 2019
Deb Vesco Roberts profile image

Motherhood was fun and often tough, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can find humor in my hot, chaotic, mothering mess!

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My evening run took me on a trail winding through a maze of fields loaded with kids learning about rules, teamwork, favoritism, and the discomfort of athletic cups.

When it comes to sports, there are many types of child athletes. Some kids are there by personal choice and their love of the game, while others play as a result of a parental bribe.

There is an obvious distinction between those who succeed at the game and those who don't, but regardless of which label applies to your child, we encourage them to follow through with their decision to play, even when it's clear they don't want to be there.

We teach them they won't always get to play the position they desire and sometimes, they may not even get to play at all, because the coach is out for blood or another kid plays that position better. Kids need to learn that the best of life's lessons come from loss and failure, so don't be a quitter the moment things don't go their way. While it is certainly easier on the parent to let them quit, it sets them up to be quitters in real life. So we tough it out, wipe their tears, and try not to strangle--I mean micromanage, their coaches.

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Three Types of Sideline Parents

Here are the three types of sideline parents I've observed during my 20 combined years as a sideline parent:

  1. The Deal Cutter: This is the parent who'll do about anything to get their child outside and active. These kids are usually the second or third-string bench warmers, but no one cares, because everyone gets a medal. These are also the parents who are napping behind their sunglasses waiting for it to be over, but they can't get too comfortable because these are the kids with the impending emergency room visit because they're busy searching for four-leaf clovers in the outfield.
  2. The "I Wanna Be a Kid Again": This parent lives vicariously through their child so they can redeem their own athletic failures. This parent is usually found shouting at the umpires, screaming from the sidelines, and demanding their kid be put into the game because they simply can't witness anymore failure. This is the parent that you'll almost give up your spot in the concession line to slap, but you are too hungry and waited an hour for a half-cooked rotisserie hot dog.
  3. The Coach Parent: This parent expects their child to excel and is constantly ripping on the umpires "hey ump, you're missing a great game!". These parents need their own penalty box! They have visions of scholarships and retirement funds. They pull out all the stops by investing in camps and private lessons. Their child starts and plays every inning, of every sport, every season. They keep their own stats to later analyze their child's performance and create a plan for the next match. This parent is also capturing nonstop video footage that will never be watched and stored in a plastic tote in the basement for decades to come. It'll be obsolete within the year thanks to ever-changing video technologies.

Some parents are just barely making it there, still in their work duds, and with the look that screams "I'm a failure at parenting". Their only hope is to make the final inning, and not disappoint their child. No one wants to take the “bad parent walk of shame". They nonchalantly slide into the bleachers because they forgot their butt-sunken umbrella chair in the car.

Source

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's how your parents behave at the game!"

My Life as a Sideline Mom

I remember when I had all four of my "Babes" playing on different fields at the same time, and how chaotic and confusing it was trying to split my time fairly. We won't even talk about the year I tried my hand at coaching my daughter's softball team; knowing utterly nothing about the game, but they needed someone to step up. Let's just say, I have no tolerance for politics and inappropriate umpires and leave it at that. I do think I scored one Mom-Brownie point for it though.

I ate my share of bottom-of-the-barrel hot dogs, "tacos-in-a-bag", and Swedish Fish desserts. I "first-aided and Gator-aded" like a boss and like all "good moms", took my turns working in that gawd-awful concession stand, because we don't endure enough torture as parents.

Speaking of concession stands, if you have even an ounce of sanity and will-power and the foresight and time to pre-pack your own food, DO NOT GO TO THE CONCESSION STAND. The minute you do, you've set the precedent for your child and their younger sibling, whom you also have in tow, to beg for every single thing, every single game, for the entire game.

Serene shot captured of the empty ballfields during my evening run.
Serene shot captured of the empty ballfields during my evening run. | Source

And Just Like That, It's All Over

So now, I sit watching from the sidelines of their adult lives, with no "interference" unless they ask for it, and I wonder how I ever managed it all. I wonder if they ever think about those chaotic evenings and weekends, year after year and if they look back with positive reflections. I sure hope so, because that's certainly what I intended for them.

Tonite, I stopped in the midst of my run, with tear-filled eyes, to sit against a tree and write this blog--because I can--and with all the free non-momming time in the world. I haven't touched a concession stand hot dog in years. I keep thinking how I need to convert those VHS tapes to DVD and then to the Cloud. One day I will get them out and watch them; I'm confident it will happen. I think how I still need to scrapbook all those photos, like the one above of my son sliding into home (he was "safe" by the way).

I'll soon be purchasing a new butt-sunken umbrella chair to watch my grandkids play. I'll advise my adult kids to not push them too hard, but hard enough they know you care, to teach them helpful lessons of winning, losing, patience, and teamwork. I'll do it better than I did before because now I'm a pro. I'll watch my grown children be "sideline parents" and chuckle fondy when they aren't looking.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Debra Roberts

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      • profile image

        Mayuri Patel 

        5 months ago

        I've not had to force my 3 kids to participate actively in outdoor activities but I remember cheering them on during their swimming competitions and annual sports day till I would home wth a sore throat. Perhaps I did that because I can't swim to save my life. Hitting a ball with a bat was never my scene and yet my kids did well. I guess that gene came from the dad. However, always stressed that winning was not the ultimate goal but having fun.

      • profile image

        Subhashish Roy 

        5 months ago

        It was a completely new term till I read it. Interesting insights

      • profile image

        Erica (The Prepping Wife) 

        5 months ago

        I don’t have kids, so I can’t exactly relate to this post, but I’ve known parents who fit into all of the categories you described. I think sometimes expectations are too high and parents set themselves up for failure. Balance is key in these situations.

      • profile image

        Swagata Sen 

        5 months ago

        My kids will go to college in few years and the last part of your post made me really sad! I don't know how it will be without them around! This is the first time in my life I wish the time to slow down!

      • profile image

        quidindustries@gmail.com 

        5 months ago

        I often wonder how I'll deal with my kids. I don't want to be over-bearing or super competitive when they find something they're interested in..but I also don't want them to get into something, then 3 seconds later decide that it's too hard and just give up.

      • profile image

        Luna S 

        5 months ago

        I probably fall under #1 but also into a number of it's own, I do enjoy watching my kids do sports and such but I am not the "coach parent". I support them and encourage them to be active but I am not going to force them or be overly strict about it, if they want to do it I am right there with them.

      • profile image

        Live Learn better 

        5 months ago

        Being a soccer fan to a once good team has thought what many life issue could not. Watching from the stand made me have a different opinion about failure and the difference between need and want.

        I have been applying that to my raising my kids and it's been working well thus far.

      • profile image

        Nina Nichols 

        5 months ago

        Too many expectations on parents set for disappointments. I believe that no matter what kind of labels others want to put on parents, at the end of the day, they want nothing but the best for their children.

      • profile image

        Tracy @ Cleland Clan 

        5 months ago

        Your ending brought tears to my eyes. It's been five years since my youngest finished his high school career, and while I don't really miss the day to day rush that often, there are times when I do. In two or three years, our grandbabies will start playing sports, and it will start up again, but we won't be the ones in charge. We'll be the ones taking the younger siblings for a snack at the concession stand and cheering on our girl as she picks clovers on the soccer field.

      • profile image

        In The Pastel Bag 

        5 months ago

        This is an honest account of life as a sideline mother – a term I wasn’t aware of. That sounds brave and insightful, to share the emotions experienced, concerns, expectations, and realisations.

      • profile image

        Mary 

        5 months ago

        I laughed and cried at this. I want time to slow down with my babies but I also can't wait to live vicariously through them as they get older

      • profile image

        MaryLentz 

        5 months ago

        My kids are still very young, but honestly, I’m dreading this kind of interaction with other parents. Competitive sports is great because it teaches kids how to rebound after a loss, how to lose gracefully, how to get back up after disappointment. Honestly, there are much more lessons in losing than winning. It’s a shame when parents can’t recognize that.

      • profile image

        Scott DeNicola 

        5 months ago

        I’d like to think I’m the type of parent who was just happy that my girls wanted to be part of something they enjoyed doing. I never forced hem but must admit it felt good when my youngest asked to play lacrosse. I dug my stick out of the basement and helped coach but also knew her limitations. There are way too many sideline parents who feel the need to argue with other parents, umpires, refs etc. When it’s all said and done it’s just a game.

      • Deb Vesco Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

        Debra Roberts 

        10 months ago from Ohio

        Maybe from now on, I will make it a point to get some of it out during our visits. It's so important to focus on the good and happy times we had as a family.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        10 months ago from UK

        You have reminded me of how much video footage I have stored away of our 4.

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