Am I the Only Parent Who Sometimes Dreads Her Kids’ Activities?
posted by: Catherine
I believe, as parents-to-be we all had dreams of attending baseball games, piano recitals, and orchestra concerts. Of cheering from the sidelines as our kid ran from one end of the field to another. Of smiling with pride as our child seemed to miraculously work his way through “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the flute.
And I’m guessing that, during those fantasies of perfect parenting, very few of us pictured setting the alarm for five in the morning so that we could get said kid to said field in 40 degree weather or sitting in the parking lot for a half an hour, trying to exit whatever performance we had attended for our pride and joy.
If we had, some of us might have rethought the whole parenting thing altogether.
I am writing this blog to admit something that very few parents do – that there are extracurricular events for my kids that I just flat-out don’t want to go to. And while out loud, you might be saying, “I can’t believe she’s writing this! What a bad parent!” believe me, I have been around the school block long enough to know that inwardly you’re actually thinking, “Thank God someone else is admitting this.”
“We’ve got four baseball games this weekend,” my neighbor told me a few weeks ago, exhaustion written all over her face. “I have a cooler with sandwiches and water so that we can just live in the car for two days.”
“One son has a lacrosse game in Evergreen and the other one has a game in Colorado Springs,” my sister told me one weekend. “I can’t even physically get them to both.”
And then there was me: “All of the kids want to participate in the high school Homecoming parade this weekend which means I have to get three kids on three different floats. I’m giving it a 50/50 chance that I come home with only two.”
It’s not just the big events. It’s all of the afterschool activities, too. I’ve heard dads sheepishly admit to not wanting to bring their sons to football practice and mothers who just don’t feel like running carpool after every theater rehearsal. And while we are all proud of our kids and their accomplishments…I’m sure some of us just wish that we could sometimes hire substitute parents for the times we just want to sit at home and watch Downton Abbey.
“I don’t want to be here,” a friend whispered to me during a choir concert last week where six different schools performed.
“Most of us don’t,” I whispered back.
And it had nothing to do with the actual concert itself – we were all happy to be there and watch our kids bop along while singing a medley from Grease or bumble their way through a song in Latin. It was the getting them there right at dinnertime, waiting an hour for the concert to start, and then the mad dash home to get their homework done and get them into bed, knowing that a missed bedtime would mean hell to pay the next day. It was knowing that the choir directors would never take the time to do the math and figure out that with 200 kids performing, they would need more than 100 seats for the 450 family members who would show up to watch their kids perform.
“You don’t have to go to this,” I told my own parents who never miss an event for my kids. “It’s going to be a madhouse.”
They protested for a minute but I could see the look of relief on their faces, knowing that I had given them a bye. After all, those two have already put in their time at events with my sister and me years ago. And now they were on round two as grandparents – trying to make it to all of the events their five grandchildren participate in. Even now, well into their sixties, they have to divide and conquer while one of them goes to a football game and the other goes to a piano recital.
So, I guess it will go on. I will keep finding myself in parking lot jams, waiting with all of the other parents who are saying “you guys did a great job” out loud, while thinking “thank God that’s over” to themselves. Who sit in the stands and wonder if their kid will even notice if they leave to go to their car for five blessed minutes so that they can feel their toes once more.
Who watch all of their kids achieving, participating, and kicking that final goal while wondering one thing.
Why don’t they serve wine here?
Catherine Tidd is a widow, mother, and the author of the upcoming book “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow” (January 2014). She is also the founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. For more about Catherine, visit www.catherinetidd.com.