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Whether it's the loud father cheering and coaching his kid
from the soccer sidelines or the mom who "coordinates" the science
fair project, many parents are very involved in their kids' activities these
days. But what about the other parents, those who aren't as closely involved but are still rooting for their kid?
I have always been the mom
in the back of the room, staying in the shadows when it comes to my kids'
accomplishments. It is more my nature to stand back and support in quiet ways. But does that mean I don't care as much? Obviously not.
My daughter decided that she wanted to try a new sport this
past year and joined the track team during the spring of her junior year. Her
sport of choice? Pole vault. I admired her determination and willingness to try
something so different and new to her. But as much as I wanted to see her
practicing or competing, I also wanted her to have her space. This was her
One weekday when she had a meet at a school about 15 minutes
away, I decided at the last minute to drive over to the meet after work to
watch. After wandering the track area for a while I finally saw the pole vault
pit. As I was standing in the distance I saw her compete and clear the pole for
her first time in competition. It was a moment I won't forget—and one that I
almost missed. But seeing how excited she was and all the high-fives from her
teammates also made me feel glad that she had these moments without me. A few
minutes later she texted me her news and I told her to turn around. We had a
good laugh about that one.
I have always been incredibly proud of my kids and their accomplishments, but their accomplishments aren't mine.
But when I shared my excitement later on Facebook, another
track mom commented that she never sees me at the meets. And suddenly the
excitement from catching a glimpse into my daughter's life faded. Instead I
There have been other times when my stand-in-the-back
parenting hasn't stood up to those in the front. There was the award my
daughter won through a library writing contest that we almost missed because
she didn't really want to attend the ceremony. Or the middle school science
fair projects that I obviously didn't have any input in. I tried to leave Boy
Scout meetings and committees to parents who felt more comfortable in front,
while I chose to help with quieter jobs in the background.
While we attended
almost every single soccer game from the time my daughter was 4 years old until
she was 16, we weren't the loudest cheering section or the weekend
coaching-from-the-sidelines parents. I don't think I even announced on Facebook which college my son chose, back when he was knee-deep in all those things. I have always been incredibly proud of my
kids and their accomplishments, but their accomplishments aren't mine.
Is there really only one way we should support our
children's activities? I say we need as many moms and dads in the shadows as we
do on the sidelines. Whether you are the loudest mom at the lacrosse game or
the quiet one at Cub Scout meetings, we're all supporting our kids. Shouldn't
we support each other as members of our kids' community? I think so.