Recently I sat at a JO volleyball tournament from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. That's a long time to just sit for someone who is usually so busy that she questions if she remembered to brush her teeth.
I really meant to cherish the “gift” of time. But it was hard to silence the sporadic tic that came from knowing there was laundry, floors, and dishes to be done back home.
It can be satisfying to give my day to the attention of just one child, when so often my attention is divided among four--as long as I can get over the guilt of paying NO attention to the other three. But mom guilt is a topic for another day’s post.
In all of this, there was also...volleyball. Six games of volleyball. More, if you count the games we didn't play but had to sit through.
That’s a lot of volleyball.
Three years ago, as a newcomer, I walked into the gym for the first tournament and felt immediately assaulted. There were six courts of volleyball games lined up and playing at the same time.
The noise was so offensively loud at 8:00 a.m. I wanted to very politely ask everyone if they could please use their inside voices. No matter what the venue, you are in a building very obviously not designed for acoustics, with teenage girls screaming their shrill rally cries, whistles blowing at every court intermittently, and the veteran JO volleyball parents well on their way to losing their voices in the first game of pool play.
(What the hell is pool play? And where can I get a schedule?)
How can the players even tell if the whistle is coming from their court? How can they concentrate when balls from other games are flying onto theirs? And why didn't anyone tell me there was no seating???
Besides the noise, the first realization to set in was there was no seating. I would either be sitting on a hard tartan floor for the next 8 hours, or standing. While I watched volleyball. (Not my favorite thing to do at the time, but it has grown on me.)
Seeing a couple hundred parents from other teams cozied up in their foldable camping chairs, fuzzy blankets, and coolers full of water, Diet Coke, oranges, and scotcheroos took me catapulting back to seventh grade when 9 days out of 10 I felt like everyone knew something I didn't, and to make it worse, they didn't tell me on purpose.
Why didn't someone tell me to bring a chair? Snacks, I had considered, but we were lucky enough to get out the door at 6:30 a.m. with knee pads, hair ties, and a water bottle.
So, there we were. No chair. No food. Seriously close to mocha depletion. And the noise! Oh my god, the noise! We found the court we played on, and lucky us, it was right next to the door someone had propped open because they were hot. It was 8:00 a.m. In March. In North Dakota. And I was sitting by an open door. Did I mention my mocha was gone? And is this a game or a match? And for the love of Pete could these poor girls put some pants on!
Three years later, and I'm the veteran JO volleyball mom. I no longer blink hatefully at the early morning sun. (Ok, I totally do.) I understand there's not REALLY a schedule. I no longer think I HAVE to be there the entire day. I can run to Wal-Mart, or Starbucks, and even if I miss a game, the earth doesn't stop turning. I dress in layers. I now stride confidently into the arena with a foldable camping chair slung over my shoulder, a cooler with lunch and snacks, and a Kindle packed with a century of reading materials.
Truth be told, I've learned to really like watching my daughter play volleyball. They've had a good team from the time they started, and they play with intensity. At the end of the day, they are dripping sweat, comparing hip bruises, and seeing whose stomach can growl the loudest because they didn't have time to eat.
I admire their commitment and work ethic. I get so into games, that all my anxious habits are converging on me at once: I'm biting the inside of my mouth, picking at split ends, eating mindlessly, peeing every 15 minutes, and silently cursing my slack, camping chair that does not allow me to jump in the air when something exciting happens.
Now the only thing I really need to work on is my crazy, competitive mom feelings. I really try to hide my competitive nature behind my "ya, sure, whatever" smile. When I'm watching a game and the other team gets an ace, or makes an impressive dig, or <insert another volleyball term I barely know the meaning of>, I pretend like I'm happy for them. Yay! We're all here to have fun and embrace sportsmanship, right?
Umm, sort of. I mean, yes? YES. Definitely. Sure.
Or maybe I got up at 5:00 a.m., my mocha got knocked out of my hand by a rogue volleyball the second I walked into the gym, I forgot my Target coupons that expire tomorrow, and what I really want is my kid to WIN.
But not just win.
I kind of want her to shove the ball down the other girl's throat. You know the girl I mean, the one with the perfect braid that doesn't fall out the entire day who looks serenely adorable every time she celebrates with a low fist punch and deep throat, resounding, "Yeeaahhh!" I mean, I'm not going to TELL my daughter to do that, but if braid girl takes one to the kisser, I might stifle a giggle. But I will do my absolute best to look sincerely concerned.
Seriously?!? What is wrong with me? Am I just the all-American parent? Is it just the Bull Durham line, ringing true: "I LOOVVE winnin' man! Do you know what I'm saying? It's like - better than losin'?" (I cleaned it up a little.)
Whatever it is, I could use a little work on the scary competitive mom that lives inside me. Maybe if I feed her another mocha, she'll go back to her hovel.
(This post is written in good fun, and not intended to reflect the real personality of the sometimes-psychotic author.)
Written in 2015 for Mistakes. Love. Grace.