Many of you know that my second job is as a soccer/field hockey mom. I drive carpools to hideous locations, I spend weekends in fantastic weather, and some not so fantastic. I spend hours and hours with other parents. Some years the parents can be a real trial, which makes it painful. I am positive parents would agree that I can be painful as well. Such is the life of the sport parent....sometimes you navigate it well as a parent, and sometimes you just put on your crazy pants and let it all fly.
It is quite hard not to get over involved in the process of the sport. For elite soccer, some manner of involvement is expected and you are not looked upon kindly for many absences. But it is so easy to dip into the zone of too much. And there are pitfalls everywhere-- maddening tryouts where there is no feedback, odd decisions that one doesn’t understand about team selection, whether to do this extra sport thing or not. I say this as a partially recovering crazy mom. I am working on the phrase “Have fun,” because, at the end of the day, it ought to be fun. And I am trying not to analyze my kids’ play except inside my head. My new phrase is “did you have fun?,” because my kids get enough analysis from their coaches, which is how it should be.
Some of the time, I feel like my entire life is snack retrieval and emails from coaches and parents organizing this or that. I make sure the kids have the correct gear. And I figure out what time to get to the field for practices and games in wherever-ville. Sounds straight forward, right? Snack, that’s not hard, right? Orange slices or apple or granola, right? I wish.
One of my kids is so easy about most snack that I generally fear she just isn’t bothering to eat much. My other kid is so fussy, it is a challenge for us all not to get wrapped up in her quest for the perfect today snack and dinner, which, of course, will be completely different tomorrow. I know my mother would have and did do these things for me. But I don’t know how she did it as a single mom. Without both my husband and myself on it, our kids would hardly make it to school let alone sports with full bellies and the correct shin guards.
And there is that nagging little problem of my job. I have one that I should be doing. And I hate missing any of it. I want to be at the restaurant, I want to be in the office, I want to be home gardening, I want to be watching my kids play sport. And the issue with small business is that, although my schedule is sort of flexible, my ability to pay bills is really dependent on the effort I am able to put forth in my work.
Leaving work at 3:30pm on an average afternoon to find snack so that I can meet my kid and/or the carpool doesn’t help me do my job. It leaves me guilty. Guilty for not being a good enough parent when I roll up without snack or late. Guilty for being a negligent chef for not being present to lead and at least answer questions on a truly daily basis. Guilty for not being a better catering manager for not being present at all events and for being tardy submitting menus and such.
People ask me often how I can manage to get away from work to be with my kids. And there is no good answer. “I am burdening my staff because someone needs to be here for my kids.” “We are one person down and they are just sucking it up.” “My husband was supposed to do today but he was so overwhelmed with work that I had to give up my shift at the restaurant in order to get here at all.” I usually say something benign but I often think “It is hard. I should be there instead of here. And if I were there, I would feel like I should be here.”
There is a never ending supply of torture devices if one goes there. I am trying to give myself a little break from time to time from feeling like I am never in the right place or doing enough in any arena of my life. But, as with soccer parenting, it is a process. Some days I feel like i have threading the needle just right. Some days I feel like it’s fine if I am not perfect and I’m doing the best I can. But I struggle a lot. And I know many others feel this way....pushed and pulled in so many directions, it feels impossible to fully accomplish anything.
And what’s the solution? Simplifying? Outsourcing? I think a work towards acceptance is the path for me. But it is totally going to be a lifetime project.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(because what is better when you feel stressed out)
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 c granulated sugar
1 c brown sugar
1/2 TBS vanilla extract
1/8 c milk
2 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c rolled oats
1 c raisins or currants
Cream butter and sugar. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add liquid ingredients and dry ingredients to butter mix, alternating. Don’t over-mix.
We like to scoop the cookies out. Put them on a baking sheet and freeze them. When they are frozen, put them in a Ziploc bag and take them out as needed.
Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes - until center is JUST done.