Wednesday, January 9, 2013

on being a parent and the guilt that eats us up.

I'm spending most days connected to basketball, either taking a kid to practice or watching a game or two or three.  It is thrilling stuff and I am one of those parents who has to try really excruciatingly hard to keep my shouting to a minimum {although my children would absolutely love it if I wouldn't shout at all}.  I try my best to grumble quietly to myself or to whomever has the pleasure of being seated next to me, but sometimes I fail.  GO MCKENNA!  Take it to the basket!!!  In my mind, I of course know all the right plays and all the right moves, if only my kids would do exactly what I say!  Am I right?  I'm annoying, is what I am.

I know I'm not alone, in seeing what my children are capable of and wanting to help encourage {push might be a more fitting term} them to do their best.  But it's so hard to know when to push and when to let them learn on their own.  This week I had a lesson in learning what my children need from me.  They both just seemed off during their games and if I had to describe it I'd say it looked like they were just running back and forth the whole game, not really contributing much.  It was so hard to watch when I have seen them play so much better.  It came to a point this week where I really felt like I just had to talk to them and try to pep them up - give them a bowl full of aggressiveness for dinner.  The thing is, I can let myself feel so guilty when I feel like I am putting them down, even when I am trying to bring them up.  These two kids are very defensive by nature, so getting critiqued by mom and dad is zero fun for anyone involved.  But I felt it had to be done.  I had to talk to them and see where they were coming from.  Maybe they don't really care about basketball, and that would be okay.  It would actually be refreshing, then I wouldn't have to care so much either.  I could chill.

So I got my courage up the other night, after a game, and we had a talk about basketball.  We talked  about what each of them has to offer on the court; what they contribute to the team, what they are afraid of, what they would like to do better, and what they are really great at.  Middle schoolers are not big fans of seeing their flaws, but these two kids were able to look at themselves and agree that maybe they would like the chance to be a little more fearless in their games.  They wanted to try harder for themselves and for their teams.

Last night I watched Jackson play the best game of his little career.  He killed it out there.  I was enthralled.  He got two fouls called on him, he scored a basket and he made many assists.  He was in it.  Fearless.  Taking chances.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but the game kept going and so did he.  He felt so good after it was over.  And that is what I wanted most; not to watch him play his guts out, but to see the look on his face when he knew he played his guts out.  I want all my children to feel good about what they accomplish.

And so I let go of the guilt a little.  Without the honest conversation {even when it hurt a little}, Jackson might have missed an opportunity to experience such a great game.  Because even though basketball is just a game, this was his chance to learn about going for it and not being afraid.  And isn't that a lesson we could all use in life?

I'm so proud of these kids, no matter what they do or don't do, or love or don't love, or who they become or don't become.  They are enough to me, just the way they are.


  1. I was a basketball girl in high school and I had my off days, but from a kid point of view. When my parents told me what they wanted from me out there, it made me work alot harder to prove to them that I could do it. So it may seem mean at the time, you are actually doing them a favor:)

    I cannnnot wait to be a mommy one day, and use all these wonderful tips from great mommies like yourself:)

    1. You will be an awesome mommy, I just know it!

  2. Nice work moments like that

  3. way to go! what a great story


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