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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