In Which I’ve Somehow Become a Sports Mom

toby anton sports

I was a bookish kid, who loved baking, ballet, and the 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet. So, it surprises no one more than myself that I truly love being a sports mom…

Toby and Anton play basketball, baseball, and flag football, and we have Nerf hoops peppered around our house. Sports commentators are the soundtrack of our lives, and I’ve found myself following almost all of the Warriors players and their spouses on Instagram.

Beforehand, I didn’t know the rules of various sports, but I’ve now realized it’s like speaking a foreign language — if you don’t speak it, it’s very boring. If you do, it can be fascinating. (Same goes for ballet, to be fair!) For example, the other day, Anton intercepted a pass and ran across the field to make a touchdown for his team. I was shouting and whooping and couldn’t stop smiling.

And yet! This comic, above, shows my vibe most of the time. One day I’d love to write an open letter to the coaches and parents who I’ve seen get very intense. They tear into little kids, and it feels like toxic masculinity gone awry. The game’s on a sunny Saturday! Let’s take the sport seriously, but maybe not get sweaty and red-faced? (Jenny said I should get this tee, haha.)

To support children, Jenny, whose daughters are both college athletes, gave me great advice: “Many kids say the worst part of sports is the drive home, when their well-meaning parents weigh in with criticisms, like, ‘That kid runs so fast, you could have done XYZ.’ So, I try not to do any post-game, other than, ‘You played really well’ and ‘I loved watching you play.’ That’s literally all you should say. Try to keep the message consistent that you’re proud of them no matter what — they lost but they played their heart out, they lost but you’re proud that they’ll get right back out there the next day…”

Yes! I remember writing a post 10 years ago (!) around a similar quote from parenting author Rachel Stafford: “College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: ‘I love to watch you play.’”

Do your kids play sports? Are they into other things, like acting or art or music? Or do they just love knocking around? (I love a putter-er.)

P.S. Five fun exercise classes, and six words to say to your child.

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