I get it. I really do. Your child wins a medal and you want to show it off. They win a trophy and you want to shout it to the rooftops. I guess it makes sense. I’m annoyed by my Facebook newsfeed, more often than not these days, but I understand.
However, I really have started to feel this weight of competition around me as my child has gotten older – the weight of competitive sport, education and doing more, more, more just to feel like I’m keeping my kid in the loop with the norm of modern child-rearing. So many children I know are in a sport, running races, playing an instrument while also pursuing additional educational goals. They’re all in Elementary school.
In addition to their activities, the families are constantly planning outings, activities, “experiences” so their children are entertained and living their best lives at..age….9.
It’s stifling just to type that out.
I relish in a lazy, unplanned Saturday where I get absolutely nothing accomplished and I’m content with my kids wandering around in their jammies for the better part of the day.
In fact, that’s what we have done today.
I am not immune to the braggy-braggerson actions. I have done it. My child ran a 5K last Spring and I posted her time, and admittedly, it’s because I realized she finished in the first set of runners and that it might impress people.
I was not happy with myself after posting it because ultimately, it should have been enough for us to celebrate within our family that she had done well, completed the race, and at her own pace.
But, at that moment, I lived through her and I, very shortly after, was mad at myself for it.
I want to offer my children opportunities, but not so many that they can’t make sense of their weekly schedules or that they do not have time to have imaginative play and unstructured social time.
I want to have time in my week where I can simply enjoy our lives as a family, or I can sit outside on the deck with my husband with a glass of wine with nothing else pulling us away. I want to be proud of my kids for being themselves without the accolades to accompany those things. They do not need to accomplish a 5K, earn a medal or straight ‘A’s for me to be proud of them. And, I refuse to kill myself or our family’s schedule and budget to make it happen.
They simply need to be good friends, loving siblings, and empathetic, heartfelt individuals. The rest, if it comes together, I’m really stoked about – but it does not define my love for them or their worth.
I am so, so tired of seeing kids pushed SO hard. It’s exhausting to see and, admittedly, it does play on my insecurities as a parent. Am I doing enough? Will they be ok? Will they find out who they are if I don’t offer them these opportunities? Will they turn out to be crack-head junkies if I don’t put them in dance class?
But, then I take a deep breath. I push that all down. Because the truth of the matter is…
Our kids will be ok if we love them well, listen to their needs, pay attention to their emotional cues and offer them authentic time and attention. The rest is simply icing on their individual cakes.