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Nope, I'm not giving up my weekends so my kids can play sports

Gemma Hartley is a freelance writer with a BA in writing from The University of Nevada, Reno. She lives in Reno with her husband, three young kids, an awesome dog and a terrible cat.

I love my kids, but not enough to become a soccer mom

I grew up doing all sorts of sports. I was a dancer, a gymnast, a cheerleader, a cross-country and track runner, and I attended taekwondo competitions all over the West Coast. I even went to basketball camp one summer despite the fact that I am 5-foot-nothing and had zero basketball skills (I convinced my parents I was really into basketball, when in truth I just really had a crush on someone). While I appreciate the hell out of my parents for giving me all the sports opportunities my heart desired, unfortunately my kids will not get the same experience I did.

Actually, they will get quite a few of the same opportunities. If they want to do dance or gymnastics, they can have at it. If they want to join up for baseball or cheerleading or soccer, however, they are, to put it bluntly, shit out of luck. Because while I’m all for my kids doing group activities and sports, I am decidedly against giving up all my free time for their hobbies.

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If they want to sign up for a sport that will suck away every single one of my weekends or force me to sit in the freezing rain while they play, they need to find themselves a rich sponsor and someone else to shuttle them around for it. While I would never expressly forbid them from most sports (because if they're anything like me, that would only make them want to do it So. Much. More.), I am definitely steering my children toward indoor sports that do not suck up all our free time, for my sake and theirs. But mostly mine.

I have no qualms with my past that I need my children to settle on the court for me. I don’t need to live vicariously through my daughter becoming a cheerleading all-star because I was sort of "meh" and totally bombed at nationals. I don’t need my son to become Bruce Lee to fulfill my Karate Kid fantasy image of myself. I was never destined for sports greatness, and so the way I see it, the sports my kids choose to participate in are for fun and leveraging good behavior.

If it were clear I was raising an Olympian, maybe it would be a different story, but truth be told, I don’t think that is the case here. Given my mediocre talents as a child, I don’t foresee my own children rising to the top of the pack, where their gifts are so undeniable that I must forfeit my life on the altar of their sports greatness.

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To be honest, I really don’t want to be the inspirational mom in the Olympic commercials who gives up everything for their kid’s soccer dream. I mean, would I do it for them? Maybe. But let’s be clear: I would much rather spend my rainy weekends curled up on the couch than watching a bunch of kids run around a muddy field all day. (And then driving their filthy butts out to large group meals and doing even more laundry than I already do? Hard pass.)

Aside from giving my children the means with which to work out their excessive angst and energy, sports are supposed to be my opportunity to have a little break as well. I want them to do things that can become a part of their identity, separate from me (because I’m generous like that). Spending every red cent and dedicating all my weekends to their sports endeavors are not going to accomplish that. I want them to be independent. I want them to own their interests.

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And let’s be honest — I want to maintain a comfortable distance, where I can’t smell so much of their pungent teen spirit.

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