It is widely accepted that taking on the role of parenting comes hand in hand with some self-sacrifice. That self-sacrifice begins even before the baby is born. During pregnancy, we deny ourselves caffeine, alcohol, certain foods, and often the baby denies us sleep.
From the moment that child is born, we as parents are never the same. We love them, cherish them, vow to protect and keep them.
The promise that we do not realize in those early days, is that we are also promising to give up so, so much of our free time.
As our children grow, they develop interests of their own. Some interests we are able to steer, while others they push for whether we are ready or not.
We attend choir concerts, band concerts, orchestra concerts, track meets, wrestling meets, basketball games, football games, band competitions, volleyball tournaments, and on and on. Our “free time” mostly exists within the confines of the kid’s activity schedules.
This is the “sacrifice” that we make, as parents. It is pretty widely accepted.
Other than a few grandparents, I don’t know very many people who actually ENJOY an elementary school concert. We go for them. We attend school carnivals in overcrowded, hot gymnasiums. We eat cold pizza accompanied by warm soda.
We are parents.
These days will pass, and we will find our Friday evenings and Saturday mornings wide open. The backs of our vehicles will no longer smell like a locker room. We will not lie awake at night listening for them to come home from their event. We will not need to wake up in the middle of the night to switch a jersey or uniform from the washer to the dryer.
This season is temporary.
It is with that in mind that I fully fail to understand the parents who treat their children’s childhood as if it is an optional event.
This is not a movie on Netflix that you can catch at a more convenient time. This is happening now. Right now.
Children who are involved in activities tend to be more socially secure. They experience a sense of belonging, a comradery. They work towards individual goals within common goals. They grow an develop as human beings.
They also need to know that they are supported in what they do.
When a child steps onto a stage, a field, a track, a court, they look at the crowd. They look for their people. Every. Single. Time.
They need to know someone is there for them. Whether they make a mistake or have a flawless event, someone is there cheering for them.
My calendar is full, and many nights are overbooked, but we will show up.
To every event that we can fit in, we will show up, because this is temporary, but the marks left on them are so much more permanent if they think that no one cares.
We will show up. Even when they do not thank us. Even when it is inconvenient, we are tired, it is hot, it is cold.
We show up.
In the hopes that when they are adults and they look back at it all, they will know we were there.
We will show up.