Sunrise Season

{I wrote this piece a few months ago but I never shared it because I wanted to get better sunrise pictures to include with it. School has been suspended through April 24, and that could possibly extend to the end of the year, so it seems more important than ever to celebrate Sunrise Season.}

I’m becoming a bit of an outdoorsy girl in my older age. Don’t read into that too much. I can’t skin a buck or run a trout line, but I do like a long walk and I love a sunrise. A morning person by nature, I love the visual of a new day erupting across the sky in glorified splendor. The Scriptures say God’s mercies are new every morning, and the sunrise seems to confirm that truth.

I have always driven my kids to school. I love doing it because the best conversations happen on that morning commute. I take Lindsey to school first and then come back for Stephen, as the start time for high school is later than middle school. Lindsey and I are usually in the car by 7:20. In time for sunrise.

I’m not sure when I started pointing out the sunrise to her, but we talk about it every morning. As we turn off our street, we see it cresting the top of the hill. By the time we cross Lake Peachtree, the vivid colors are streaking out their reflection across the glassy perfection of the water. We always pay attention at that point. Conversation stops and we take it in.

We had a rainy winter. Lots of fog and dark clouds, and many days there was not much of a sunrise just a subtle brightening of the grey sky. One morning mid-February, it cleared out and Lindsey walked to the end of the garage and looked out. The sky gleamed golden and pink at the top of the hill and she stood transfixed and said, “Look Mom. It’s coming!”

It was beautiful. Perhaps made even more so by the absence of that majesty over the recent days. As we enjoyed it there on the driveway I realized: This is a season. My Sunrise Season with Lindsey. Next year, she will go to high school. The sun will be up when she leaves. Her brother (God-willing) will probably drive her to school.

Seasons change. It makes me feel… not sad, but maybe wistful. As I pause to futurize the nostalgia I will one day have for this time in our lives, I’m grateful. Grateful to God for painting the sky for our delight and wonder. Grateful for this beautiful girl who notices the creation around her. But mostly, grateful that I was paying enough attention in the present moment to realize that I had been gifted with a Sunrise Season.

You Can Someday Yourself Out Of A Life

I saw that quote while scrolling through Facebook awhile back and it made my thumb pause and hover. It was from a post by Kay Wyma author of several books (that I have loved) and the MOATblog. Written in chalk on the sidewalk as she took a walk through her neighborhood, she snapped a picture and posted it.

I think it resonated so deeply with me because in 8 words it expressed a truth that I’d been wrestling with for most of 2019 but had struggled to put into succinct prose. Time is passing swiftly and all the things I’ve said “someday” to are started to stack up like the proverbial elephant in the room.

Some of those things are big ticket items, but many are small. Some are things I want to do with Paul. Others are adventures I want with our kids. Still others are just for me. And while I firmly believe you can travel and experience with your kids after they have flown the nest, there is something sacred about the years we all live here together. I want to honor THIS chapter.

We lived in Canada for four years. It was such a gift for our family for so many reasons not the least of which was that we learned to live intentionally. We knew we were there for only a few years and we wanted to see, experience, and cultivate as much as we could and with people who had different perspectives than those we had known. It was the perfect time in our lives to take on that adventure because our kids were so young and their commitments were minimal.

When we moved home our priorities shifted to the familiar and the more rigorous pace of the tween and teen years. I have no regrets because it was and still is the season of life we are in. Yet, each of us, over the last year, has talked about going back to visit Canada. We talk about our people back there. The places we visited. Our favorite restaurants. The spirit of adventure we had when we lived there.

We’ve had a great 2019 that included a pretty epic trip to London and France. We love to travel as a family but adventure isn’t only about vacations. Being intentional, the way we were in Canada, means examining that stack of Someday items and starting to address some of those today. Let’s go ride bikes together. Play a game. Make s’mores and watch the football game outside. Tag along on a business trip. Skip church and go to Top Golf. Have family movie night. Go to see the Nutcracker. Start a blog. If we say we value time together, time to discover, time to create, then let’s stop reminiscing and “someday-ing” and let’s start living out our values.

Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us, so maybe it’s a good idea to begin as you intend to go and not let those “Somedays” pile up too high. Stephen will graduate in two years and while that makes me sad, I’m also grateful for it. Like a stint in Canada, there is a date looming out there that reminds me: Be intentional. Be mindful.

We watched Dead Poet’s Society a few weeks ago as a family. If you’ve seen the movie, the whole Carpe Diem theme goes hand in hand with this Someday quote. Sieze the Day. Don’t postpone everything for Someday. The movie features a Thoreau quote, from Walden, that the boys read before the first meeting of the Dead Poets and I have always loved it, “…I wanted to live deliberately…To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Seize the day. Be mindful and intentional, because you can Someday yourself out of a life.

Belonging and Worthiness

Last week I experienced a couple of the better Mom moments of my “illustrious” mothering career. I saw two of the primary emotional needs met in my kids’ life. These were not large, poetic, epic events that played out to inspirational music. They were small, un-staged but still soul-filling experiences that displayed on their faces in radiant joy and it made my heart so full.

For Lindsey, it has been a struggle to be seen. The Lord knows we have struggled in this regard. This child is clearly an introvert. She checks all of the boxes on the Susan Cain checklist. While she may get exhausted from peopling, she is not shy, she does not lack courage, and she would still like to be acknowledged for effort and ability. She gets overlooked all the time. The last two years have been hard for her. Seventh and eighth grade are not awesome times in the human experience and there have been a lot of things that have piled onto this already tenuous existence. Last week in volleyball, her coach called her aside to give her instruction but in a backhanded compliment, wound up filling her bucket more than anything I have told her for the last two months. After the game we got in the car and she told me the whole story and I could see the excitement in the glow of her face and hear it in the breathlessness of her voice. The validation in that off the cuff remark said everything she has needed to hear: You are worthy. Oh, how she needed to hear that from someone who is not related to her.

For Stephen, last Friday morning was just an exclamation point to the blessing his school has been since Day One. As we pulled up, and he was driving, there was a group of students that he is friends with, selling donuts and coffee for a fundraiser. They all came rushing to the car, calling out to him, and joking with him. As I rounded the car to change places with him, he just stood there looking at me with the biggest, happiest grin on his face. That look on his face is imprinted on my brain until the end of time because it said: These are my people. I belong.

What a blessing to see, in the span of 18 hours, these needs met and recognized on the faces of your children.

I dwelled on it over weekend, replaying the interactions and the faces of my kids. I just reveled in the fragile grace of all of it. But on Sunday as I was getting dressed, I felt God whisper right into my soul, “It was my pleasure.” It nearly broke my heart because I had not seen his hand in it at the time, but in that moment I knew it was all His orchestration. My faith has been vulnerable lately. It’s a season where I have not seen much evidence of God in our lives. There has been heavy emotional and mental stuff that has worn me down and that has been coupled with an absence of refreshment and renewal. But God knew. He knew, because in these two sacred moments when I saw worthiness and belonging poured into my children, refreshment came. Renewal came.

God sees. God hears. God knows.

We are worthy.

We belong.

I nag, therefore I am

Job performance reviews are in around here and apparently I nag too much. I nag about homework. I nag about picked up bedrooms. I nag about dishes in the sink. I nag about food left in rooms. I nag about study habits. It’s apparently out of control, at least according to my children. Since they are the ones that have offered this constructive criticism and the very ones I seek to train up in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it, I have been doing some soul searching.

I started my introspection by defining “nag.” Google dictionary defines nag (verb): to annoy or irritate a person with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging. My daughter says my nagging lacks perspective because I’m not putting her behavior in the context of what is actually important for a thirteen year old girl. She says I should look at all the bad decisions other kids make and then reverse engineer my way to gratitude that her and her small time problems are the only thing I have to worry about. This has faulty logic all over it, but there is a nugget of truth in there- nagging quenches gratitude. My son says my nagging makes him feel “inferior.” He hates the implication that he is unable to perform in the care of himself without my vocal interference.

The next thing I thought about were the emotions I felt before I started to nag. Sometimes it is frustration. I become frustrated when I feel like I am the only person invested in the care of our home. Other times it is motivated by fear and insecurity, whether that be on their behalf or my own. Still other times, I don’t have faith that my kids will make smart choices regarding time management. And do they even understand good housekeeping? We live in the South. Cockroaches are real. And finally, sometimes I’m just tired and hangry. I can nag when what I really need are potato chips and a nap.

This past weekend, I watched my husband manage my son so perfectly without any nagging. He empowered him with time management, accountability to tasks, and good faith that he was capable of all of it. Stephen would like nothing more than to spend his entire Sunday playing video games. However, he had some tasks he needed to do around the house as well his homework. Paul said to him, “I understand you have homework, yes? You also need to clean your gun (Stephen shoots sporting clays competitively). At around 5 pm we’re going to replace the headlights on the Jeep. So this day can look however you want it to look, but those are all the things that need to get done.” Full transparency- Stephen was less than thrilled about some of these tasks, but he also realized, I will still have time to do the things I like to do, if I manage my time effectively. And he did. He has developed maturity that I had not realized because I default to nagging him about each task he needs to complete.

Lindsey is a different story. I don’t know if she would have responded the same way as Stephen, but she’s also two years younger. Her exception to my nagging may have a different root cause. She told me that I’m not seeing the good she IS doing. She has told me numerous times, “I would never NOT do my homework.” And as I sit here and think about it, that’s absolutely true. She has always done her work. I can show my gratefulness for her and my trust in her academic diligence, by leaving her alone to handle it. We still need to work on her housekeeping and cleanliness habits, but maybe she’s correct that I’m focused on things that don’t matter as much in the big picture right now.

I’m not sure if I will ever fully defeat the nagging monster inside me, at least as long as the kids live here and my eyes are trained on them daily. The things that motivate me to nag still remain. I want them to accomplish everything in life they dream of doing. I want them to understand how to manage time. I want them to have clean bedrooms so they know how to take care of their living space and so we don’t get insect infestations. I want to eat high carbohydrate snacks that I know I shouldn’t eat.

So, I will probably still speak out of these emotions.

I’m probably still going to nag.

But hopefully, maybe, a little less.

Happy 16th to my Boy

Dear Stephen,

I cannot believe you are 16. It’s not that you don’t look like it or act like it, it’s just that I can’t believe this much time has passed. You are a teenager. You drive automobiles. You shave your face.

I am amazed by you all the time. I’m not sure other people understand what we’ve been through. It is crazy that now we can talk about what we felt and thought during those “strong-willed” years. I think the two of us have such a bond because together we survived a crucible experience: your early childhood.

You were an absolute terror as a toddler and young child. I used to project out what it might look like when you became a teenager with all the energy and attitude you had as a kindergartner. Fortunately, a mother’s projections are not always the best indicator of anything but her own fears. You are a phoenix- this magnificent ball of fire that burned itself out and re-emerged as this smart, even-tempered young man.

Your sense of humor is obviously my favorite thing. You are in on the joke. You can laugh at yourself. Our texts of nothing but memes and GIFs are as sacred to me as any memento a mother can save of their child. Your giggle and laugh still make me smile. When you were born, your cry sounded like a giggle. Did I ever tell you that? Maybe from the beginning, God intended you to be a person who laughs easy and often.

I love that you love us well. You are never ashamed to hug or say “I love you.” My favorite part of the day is when you get out of the car at school and wish me a great day followed by a “Love you.” And that tiny wave you give me as I start to pull away….that has left a mark forever. When you were little, you climbed out of the car and ran into the building without a single glance backward. The first time you turned around for that little wave was fourth grade. Do you know why I remember that? Because I know exactly what it did to my heart. I still feel it. When I pick you up from school you always ask me how my day was. That is how I know you are growing up. You sincerely want to know what your Mom did all day, as if laundry and grocery shopping were fascinating phenomenon every teenage boy longs to understand.

I think it is amazing that you do not allow anyone to define you. You have pleasantly surprised us with the things you have chosen to do in high school. You do not waste time worrying what anyone else thinks. YOU ARE SO BRAVE, Stephen… in all the ways that matter. I look at you all the time with pride and more than just a little envy that I could be more like you.

I have so many hopes for you. I hope you get to do all the things you dream of doing. I hope your desire to learn never goes away. I hope the passion you have for certain subjects is realized and integrated into the life you choose. I hope you never stop traveling. I hope you always keep that belly laugh. I hope you find love. I hope you have loyal friends and community . I hope you follow after Jesus in a personal and purposeful way.

I hope you always text me funny things.

I hope 16 is your best year yet.

I hope you always know I love you the most.



Time with my Boy

I’m having a week with Stephen. Lindsey is at Beach Week with our church youth group (Stephen wasn’t feeling compelled to attend this year) and Paul is traveling with work. We are navigating this new space just the two of us and I sort of love it. We have this natural camaraderie that is unique to the first child that made you a mother, almost broke your will to live, and then went on to rebound and become this person who makes you laugh out loud with just a raised eyebrow or a smirk. No one laughs at my jokes louder than Stephen. No one understands Stephen better than me- at least for right now.

We have settled into this easy pace, without any interruptions from our beloved but absent family members. We get up and while I go to the gym, he goes for a run. He works on his online Drivers Ed and I work on household projects. We eat lunch together (Paul grilled us so much food before he left so we would have lunch leftovers). He games online and I work on my projects. At 3:30, he drives us to whatever coffee shop we have decided to visit. He is so funny when he drives. He is so conscientious of all the driving rules but he talks nonstop out of nervousness about anything. We drove 15 minutes one way today and he recited lines from Forrest Gump the whole trip.

When we get to the coffee shop of the day we chat for a few minutes and then we read or I journal. He has summer reading to complete so he has worked on that, but he also finished The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien) for enjoyment. When he finished that book he set it down and said, “I’m done.” I looked at him and saw the emotion in his eyes, and I set down my book. “Do you want to talk about it?” I asked. He proceeded to tell me how much he bonded with one character and then that character died. We talked about the power of a writer to create people we care about. He talked about why that character mattered to him.

After coffee we make dinner plans. We eat and then he games again with his friends. We take care of the dogs. Watch D-Day retrospectives.

It’s one week. But it’s one of my favorite weeks of 2019, so far . He will graduate in three years. He was hard work for so many years and now he is my joy. He is not the smartest, sportiest, ambitious, most eloquent, most likeliest, best Christian teenager. But he is figuring himself out. I love him with every fibre of my being.

He makes me laugh.

He makes me proud when he puzzles out what he needs to do to take his next right step.

I am excited about where life might take him. I’m also a little scared about that.

He has never been the Perfect Child but our journey has been all the richer for it.

I love time with my boy.


Lately I’ve been thinking about endings. Maybe it’s the end of school year, the graduations, or the irrational reactions to Game of Thrones in my Twitter feed, but I feel surrounded by endings. It’s the time of year, and we are captivated by the Grande Finale.

I am here for a good ending. I love a mike drop. A one line zinger that encapsulates everything. The farewell party. The long hug and squeeze. The rapid burst of fireworks at the end of the Fourth of July. I want it grand and I want it to signal to all those involved, This Is The Final Act. The end has come- you have not misconstrued anything. There will be no curtain call. You may go home and rest in the security that you experienced it all.

But what I’m learning is that not all things end with the Grand Finale. Sometimes, a thing, relationship, commitment, a phase or season of life just stops and that’s all there is. It’s like that meme that circulates on Facebook parenting pages that’s says, “One day you will set your child down and never pick them up again.” I have always had a visceral reaction to that and my flippant response is typically, “One day I will change a nasty diaper for the last time too, but nobody’s holding space for that milestone.” All snarkiness aside, I think my problem with the meme is that I hate that there is no ending to the phases of childhood. They all meld together forming this cohesion we call life. I may want confetti and balloons when I set that child down for the last time but that’s just not how this works.

Lindsey’s volleyball season ended about a month ago. I won’t bore you with the details (other people’s kids’ sport stories are never interesting), but it was so weird. Club volleyball lasts forever and it seemed we were building for a ending- a bid for Nationals. We just missed, but we left our last tournament with the hope that there would be a trickle down bid and the girls would be back in the gym in a week. That didn’t materialize and just like that, we were dismissed. I told Lindsey, “The Summer is now open. Volleyball is over.” She didn’t say much, but a few weeks later we were driving to school and out of nowhere she said, “That was so weird how volleyball ended. No goodbye. Nothing. It was just over.” I agreed with her but I didn’t have any real counsel to give.

This morning, Paul and I were taking a walk and I was telling him about the conversation I had with Lindsey. “She was right. It did seem weird without an ending.” He said, “But that’s life. There isn’t always a neat bow on things. I have had mentors and professional relationships and they just end. There’s no farewell party. No angry fight. The purpose ends and you move on. There’s not always moral value to an ending.”

I found resonance in that.

It doesn’t mean we don’t try to end well. I tell my kids to finish strong in everything and I do the same myself. I think celebrations and putting a period at the end of a season has value. But I’m learning that we don’t have to hunt down a fancy finish where there may not be one. Sometimes we live in the tension of “I guess that was all.”

And that’s ok. That’s life.

What Happened To My Chore Charts?

I just want to firmly state, that it was my goal all along to raise responsible humans who contributed to this household. The Almighty knows I have tried. When they were little, we had chores. I had chore charts. I can probably still find the ones I used on Pinterest if you need to see them. I did all the things that were age appropriate to teach them how to care for themselves, their rooms, and this home. And I did it with a color coded chart. There may have even been stickers.

It has all failed. I’m not sure when it all fell apart, but that’s where we are now. They leave clothes all over the floor. The beds are not made. No one ever screws a cap back on the toothpaste. There are currently four pairs of my daughter’s shoes lying haphazardly by the kitchen door. This house looks like the kind of houses you see on HGTV when the family thinks they have to move because there’s no space for them, but you sit there on your couch drinking wine, judging, and think, “Maybe just get your crap together for 5 minutes and you can live in your own dang house.” This is Us.

My mother used to call messy bedrooms “A Disaster Area.” She’d be like Tom Brokaw on the Nightly News standing in front of a natural disaster but it would be our bedroom, and she would wave her arm around and declare, “This bedroom is a Disaster Area.” The best was when she would just shut the door and say, “This is no longer a part of my house.” So, I guess no FEMA assistance?

Maybe teenagers CANNOT EVEN pick up their rooms. Maybe this is a frontal lobe development thing. It’s probably scientific. They cannot pull up the blankets on their bed and throw their pillows on top because they have to focus on taking 45 minute hot showers without use of any soap or shampoo. It’s probably too much for their brains to manage all of that.

All this to say, we may have had a glimmer of a breakthrough this week. At dinner on Sunday, Lindsey was researching ways to make money because she wants an IPhone X. As she was throwing out ideas that included Ponzi schemes and selling a kidney, I stopped her cold with this: “I will give you both $5 every week if you make your bed. I’ll make it $10 if you put your clothes in your hamper.” Both kids stopped and looked right at me, like I was proposing something the likes of which have never been heard of around these parts. Stephen asked, “What if I forget to throw my towel in the hamper one day. Am I still eligible for the bed making money?” (He’s negotiating with me to allow for his forgetfulness, IN ADVANCE. This is 15 years old, folks.) “Yes, bed making money is still in play.” Both kids started running analytics on their calculator app to determine what this would mean for their spending/saving goals.

We’re three days in with beds made and clothes off the floor, and I’m wondering if this is what chore charts are with teenagers? It’s not color coded with stickers and it feels a lot like bribery, but then again so does most of parenting. I’m not sure if bribery trains a child in the way they should go so when they are older they will not depart from it, but it sure does keep the Disaster Areas contained.

Imagine this but with all the stickers. I had so much hope.

Brother and Sister Stuff

Last week, Stephen had a track meet and Lindsey was able to attend. Normally she’s in a volleyball tournament or practice so she hasn’t seen him run. This is a good place to pause in our story to note that Stephen is not going to set any world records at track. I’m not sure to this day what motivated him to do it except that he likes to run and random adults, that are not his parents told him, “You should run track.” I’m grateful that he was brave enough to get outside his box, but now my Saturdays are spent watching volleyball AND track and field. Gracias, to all the encouragers.

Lindsey was pretty into the track meet, (and even before I bought her Skittles at concessions), which is news because Stephen and Lindsey are not big fans of each other. They attend each other’s events only when it is compulsory. Linds hung in there for 2+ hours (we came late, because I can’t even with these all day track meets) waiting for Stephen’s events. She thinks he is annoying most days, and has asked in the past if it is too late to drop him at a fire station, but here is what happened as time drew near for him to run…..

She was nervous. She was worried about him. She had so much empathy for him waiting to take his place on the track. “Oh my gosh, he must be so nervous right now. I can only imagine how this must feel.”

She was confident for him. “He’s going to finish OK, Mom. Look at his stride. He’s totally got this!”

She could see his positives. If they were just peers, no relation, they would never choose to hang out together. Yet she could watch him run his race and say, “He did so good! I can’t believe how strong he finished!”

Listen to me: My kids are not best friends. They do not hang together a lot (although I do think they would have each other’s back in a bar fight). Sometimes, I wonder what their adult relationship will look like. I remember years and years ago, reading from a magazine about JFK Jr and his sister Caroline….”At Caroline’s 1986 wedding rehearsal dinner, Doris Kearns Goodwin complimented Jackie on her children’s obvious bond with one another. That, Jackie told her, “is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

I never forgot that. It’s easy for same gender siblings to form a bond because of the commonality of life experience. That’s not the case with a son and daughter. Not only are they wired differently, they are physically different, and those differences are glaring at this stage of life. Today though, it didn’t matter because younger sister said to older brother, “You ran a good race today. I think you could actually finish better than that, because you had pretty good speed at the end.” Stephen enjoyed this praise from her and as we left, they walked together behind me talking about pacing and other track-y things.

While I’m not ready to call them the Kennedy siblings, and I’m still not sure what Jackie did to foster closeness, I feel pretty good that they are making a relationship tthat will matter in the long term. When I see them together, I give them their own space, and THAT might be the thing that you do as the mom. Let them build the relationship without interference, so it is truly theirs. Maybe the best thing is letting them figure it out together.

Being A Sports Mom: What I’ve Learned From The Sideline

This week is sandwiched by volleyball tournaments and track meets, so it had me thinking about what I’ve learned sitting on the sideline.

We have two kids. Between the two of them, we have tried a lot of sports. In the early years, we did this to keep them active and engaged with other kids. There are parents with different motivations, who see sports as the long term ticket to college or fame (and it can begin as early as three-year-old soccer), but that was never our intent. Along the way, Stephen fell away from sports and Lindsey fell in love with them. She played soccer, then volleyball and lacrosse. Recently, she has narrowed her passion down to volleyball, and Stephen has picked up the individual athletic pursuits of his choosing- sporting clays and track. So we find ourselves, many Saturdays and Sundays, on fields and courts around Georgia. I’ve learned many lessons (some the hard way) as the parent of an athlete, that have made sports-mom-ing a better experience for me and my kids. These may not be true for everyone, but they have proven vitally important in how we treat our kids as they compete in sports.

1. Watch my own child. Don’t be worried about other kids, other parents, referees, the scoreboard- none of that matters. This is one of the few moments in their life when I have no other demands but to cheer for them. My only responsibility is to watch them do a thing they have chosen and trained to do. I often joke that when I was thirteen, I didn’t care about anything as much as Lindsey cares about volleyball. She has given so much of her time to training so she can be valuable to her team. I watch her and I am amazed at her commitment to this sport. I am amazed by her.

Stephen told us when he started high school, he was going to run track in the spring. We were a little surprised because he seemed uninterested in sports when he was in middle school. We don’t know anything about Track & Field, so we put the responsibility of getting involved squarely on him, and he did it. He’s had two meets now, and watching him run might be the proudest I have ever been of him. My pride in him has nothing to do with his performance on the track. I’m proud because he chose this activity and he has followed through with it. He trains every day and has the funniest sense of humor about all of it. When I watch him run, more than any other time in his life thus far, I see the man he is becoming. If you see me in the stands at a meet, I will have the goofiest smile on my face the whole time, because that is my ornery toddler, my strong-willed kid, turning into a self-disciplined young man.

2. Recognize it’s a season. When I say that, I don’t just mean a spring or fall season, but a season of their life. This will end. One day they will walk away, and hopefully it’s with fond memories. I can help facilitate that by keeping it in its proper context. The sport does not define my child. Their success or position on a team will never be the deciding factor in a happy life. Not one person on their deathbed looks at their life with regret because they weren’t the starting first baseman on their high school baseball team.

It’s just a season. A few pages in the scrapbook of their life. Enjoy it and treasure it for what it is. One day I will miss all of this: watching them compete, the wins and losses, their growth mentally and physically at the sport, even the crazy schedule we keep- AM wave tournaments in a city 2 hours from home or splitting time at a track and a gym on Saturdays. I will miss the good, the bad, and the crazy, but there will be many other rewarding seasons in their lives. The best is still to come. Hold on loosely.

3. They will learn life lessons on the field or court. The learning won’t all be rules and strategy and situational play. Don’t get in the way of the life lessons. Don’t run interference for them. It’s hard to be a bystander when I see adversity or pain coming my child’s way, but sometimes the road they are called to in life will require wisdom gleaned from what they learned competing or in team dynamics. Those lessons don’t always congeal right away. Character building takes time and distance and that space is fertile ground for bitterness to grow. Don’t be bitter. Trust timing and perspective to bring wisdom and peace. No matter how long that takes, believe this experience will make them stronger.

4. Coach them how to manage their feelings and perceptions. What I know strategically about the game of volleyball or the conditioning needed to run 800 meters could be written on the head of a pin. I don’t coach my kids, because I have the dumbs when it comes to their sports. I also pay a billion dollars for them to play and so I assume their coaches are being compensated to do the heavy lifting. The pressure is off me to break down technique. What I can coach them on are their feelings about what happened. Their perspective at this age tends to be a bit inward focused, so having conversations where we can look at things from a different angle are so valuable. I’m not running any interference on the life lessons, I’m just helping them frame things in the proper context.

These are my Sports Mom lessons learned, so take that as you will. They may not be for everyone. I have seen plenty of parents coach their children from the sideline so maybe that yields the results they desire. It’s just not my business. These are the boundaries that work for us. This is the place where we can appreciate the value of sports in our kids’ lives and also enjoy the balance of family, school, rest, and play.

We’re playing by these rules. If we play this right, they succeed at life. That matters more than any game.