Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Confessions of a Bleacher Mom

I am very excited.

I'm sitting in the "mommy holding pen" of a local gym where my 6 year old daughter is now on the gymnastics "team".  There's huge glass window overlooking the gym and we moms are lined up against the glass staring up sporadically from our iPhones and laptops to watch as our agile progeny flip and sashay across the matted floor.

I am officially a "Bleacher Mom."

Don't get the wrong idea.  I'm not one of those moms who is under the delusion that my children are "gifted".  They're not.  Izzy shuns all things sports, and gallops like a newborn gazelle missing a hoof.  My son is really strong, but he couldn't hit a target if it was the brick wall upon which he was perched.  They do well in school, but I spend hours helping with homework they should be able to do by themselves, and I have had the pleasure of saying on more than one occasion "Why are you hitting yourself?"  To say that I expected anything "extraordinary" from them is an understatement.

But it turns out that Livi positively ROCKS at gymnastics!

Since she was a baby people have marveled at her agility.  She was standing at 8 months, walking at 10 and unanimously elected "President" of her Mommy and Me class when she was 1.  In preschool she was the first to master the monkey bars and people would stop me at the park to ask her age as they marveled at her spinning around the bars like a 3 year old Shawn Johnson.  

By the time she was 4 she didn't walk anymore...she cartwheeled.   Just cartwheeled around town in a perfect little line with a hands-up finish.  People would say "Oh My God!  She's incredible!  How old is she?"  "Does she do gymnastics?"

I would try to be blasé, but pride would fill me up till my smile broke the barriers of my cheeks and I would say "Yes!" and "Thank you!" and "I know!  It's crazy!  I am so proud."

Last week she mastered falling into a back-bend and pushing into a walk-over.  Something I could only deign to dream about when I was six despite the hours I spent bending and contorting myself in my back yard.  I still have the neck injuries to prove my failure.

I'm not stupid.  I realize this could all end tomorrow.  She could come home one day and say "Mommy?  I don't like gymnastics.  Can I get a recorder?"

But right now I see the other moms watching her.  She's so small, so fearless and so good!  How can you not watch?  It's poetry in motion.

And I suck it all up.

I make myself look busy like the other moms.  I try to make it look like I am not enamored of her - like I am so expectant of her talent that I can focus on other menial things.  I look up occasionally from my laptop to make note of where my child is on the floor and I chat politely with the other moms and say "Oh, which one is yours?" secretly comparing their child's skill level to Livi's.   I note, "They've got nothing on us..."

And for a moment, I let my mind go there.  "Hmmmm...2016, could she make it?  What kind of money is there for a gymnast in endorsements?  Could she make a good living?  Would it interfere with her ability to have children?  Would she be happy?  Could she buy me a really, really nice house?"

My mind conjures up an image of Livi on a podium; gold medal around her neck, hand over heart, and tears in her eyes as she sings along with the National Anthem.  She's about to give a speech thanking me when I'm knocked out of my daydream by one of the coaches who shakes my shoulder and hands me the crying kid she's carrying.

While I was dreaming, Livi's class ended, she grabbed a snack and tripped coming up the stairs.  Apparently, that's what happens when she walks and chews a fruit roll-up at the same time.

A friend recently told me "sometimes God speaks in whispers."  In this case, it was more of a whine, but I got the hint.

I wonder if the music shop down the street sells recorders.


  1. Love this! So true, so on point and, by the way, she is a brilliant gymnast and no, there is no money in this! Liv would earn about .1 of the investment you would put to getting her to the Olympics, and that would be only if she won it all! Hey, suck up this piece of adoration--you are a brilliant writer!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, I am following you as well :)

  3. Don't worry about the "bigger picture"-although I have been one of those bleacher moms for the past three years. Just ask her if she is having fun,but if not, please no recorders! (All that squeaking! LOL!)


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