By TMoM Team Member Rachel Hoeing
I’ve always been a mother with the mindset of “once you commit to something, you commit.” I am all about sticking things out, honoring your word, and being a team player. But last year, as my daughter started high school, I was placed in a situation where I had to rethink my previous mindset.
Our Triad Moms on the Mic team recently recorded a podcast about kids sports, which reminded me of this story. I thought it might be worth sharing in case others find themselves in a similar situation.
Both of my children took the water easily when they were little and showed an interest in swim team as they got older. They both swam summer league and then my daughter asked to join the team at our local YMCA. She seemed to love the water, and it filled my heart because it brought back so many fond memories of my own days as a swimmer. She was never a top tier swimmer, but she held her own and she enjoyed it.
At the beginning of her freshman year of high school (almost two years ago now), she signed up for Field Hockey. She was entering a new school with a new group of kids, none of whom she had attended school with previously. Since swim team was a winter sport and not beginning for a few more months, we thought this fall sport would give her the exercise she enjoyed, and help her make some new friends as well.
She absolutely fell in love with field hockey. For a child who had never played a true “team sport” previously, she embraced everything about it. She made some great friends, challenged herself physically and mentally, and had a fun season.
October came around and it was time for swim team to begin. None of the new friends she had made were signing up, but we’ve also always been the parents who encourage our kids to do things regardless of whether or not their friends are participating. That said, my daughter knew the coach and assistant coach very well from our local swim club, so she was comfortable going in to this new situation and was excited!
I drove her 25 minutes across town (practice pools are hard to come by in case you didn’t know!) to her first practice and wished her luck. When I picked her up that evening, she was in tears.
After calming her down I realized the tears were for a couple different reasons. 1) She was exhausted. Full day of school, not much downtime at home after homework was complete, and a late practice time during our usual dinner hour was a bad trifecta. 2) She felt very subpar. She was the only freshman at practice and was only one of two females. She had an extremely hard time keeping up with the older boys sharing her lane.
We didn’t talk much about it after that, as she showered and went straight to bed, but the next day I asked how she was feeling about practice and she agreed to give it another try. She stuck it out for another week of practice and then came to me crying once again.
Not only were all of the previous reasons for her sadness still there, but worst of all, I think she had lost her love of swimming.
We talked about the fact that if she had not tried field hockey, she may have never felt this way. Field hockey gave her that sense of team and a lot of socialization with other kids. Unfortunately at swim team there wasn’t much time to socialize and build team bonds between their workouts. The time they did have, she truly felt like an outsider amongst the older boys. And the actual act of swimming itself? She simply said she wasn’t enjoying it.
Then the worst part came … she told me she wanted to quit. UGH! I knew it was coming but I had hoped somehow her feelings would change. My immediate response would normally have been, “You signed up … you finished it out.” But something in me felt that we needed to talk this out. Our Mother’s Intuition isn’t there for nothing!
We spent the next two days mulling over pros and cons, talking about it with my husband, and praying for the right answer. She was only one week into this sport and had three months to go. When we considered the length of the program, the hour of drive time to and from practice each night, the sheer exhaustion of trying to keep up at practice, and the fact that her heart just wasn’t in it, my husband and I decided together that we would allow her to quit.
Now came the next hard part … my daughter’s heart was so heavy knowing that she would need to tell her coaches. We put that responsibility on her and felt that she was old enough to handle it herself.
She went to school early the next day to tell her coach. She texted me afterward to say that he was very understanding but she still felt terrible about it. But, by the time she got home it was like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
For the next few months, she had extra time in her day (as did I), she was a little lighter on her feet, she was able to spend a little more time on homework and recreational activities, and she felt good about the decision she had made. And the best news is that she was able to find her love of swimming again and join her summer league.
Looking back, that week was so incredibly stressful and I wonder why we second guessed ourselves so much. It’s tough to say no to things, but I think this past year has shown us that our emotional well-being often needs to be our number one priority. In this case, being a “quitter” was the right decision.
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I would not call her a quitter, she is a “tryer” and that is commendable! Especially in today’s sports where it is so much more competitive than when we were in high school. It’s so great that she fell in love with another sport, and one that includes friends, which is so important. We are on the opposite end of this dilemma. We have a kid who is much better at one sport than another, but he wants to pursue the sport he is not very good at. We are trying to crush his dreams (ha ha) and actually encourage him to quit the one. And it’s all because of the probability of what he can actually play in high school. This was never a dilemma back “in our days.” It’s kind of sad ;(