When I was growing up, sports were a big part of my life. My dad was a coach, my brother played sports and I played sports including tennis, basketball and softball. Year-round, there was always someone coaching or playing something. When I graduated high school, I knew I did not have the athletic aptitude to play sports in college, so I assumed I was leaving that part of my life behind. I exercised and played a few intramural games, but it definitely was no longer such an integral part of my schedule.
Several years later, I became a mom. Though, my days of competitive sports are far behind me now, I have realized that there are many sports mantras and concepts that can also be applied to motherhood.
For example, "no pain, no gain" is a phrase associated with athletes suffering through workouts or strenuous training to improve their skills and physical capabilities. How does it apply to motherhood?? Well, how about pregnancy and labor for starters? Have you ever watched your child walk into elementary school for the first time? Have you ever dried the tears of your heartbroken tween? Experiences like these are painful for moms, but necessary as we watch our children grow.
Years ago, Nike popularized the phrase "Just Do It!" I used that mantra many times when faced with cleaning up diaper blowouts, vomit or a disastrous playroom! Now that my kids are a bit older, it is a phrase frequently spoken around homework time.
There is also the aspect of competitiveness. As moms, we sometimes compete with each other -- outwardly or silently -- to be better, more creative, more perfect than the others. We also compete with ourselves to do everything just right. We are harsh with ourselves when we make mistakes and often feel like we are fighting losing battles.
Moms spend a lot of energy working on strategy as well. It begins with planning a birthing strategy. Then, we must decide on a sleep training strategy, potty training strategies, discipline strategies, menu planning strategies, education strategies, and even scheduling strategies. Having a good strategy is key to successful motherhood.
Sports require endurance. So does motherhood. From the moment you conceive or adopt, you are forever a mom -- in it for the long haul. Sometimes, you will want to give up and "throw in the towel," but that is not an option. As the saying goes, "Moms don't take sick days." We also rarely get a vacation or even a solo, uninterrupted trip to the bathroom.
Timeouts are, however, an option -- occasionally. We put our children in timeout in an effort to redirect behavior and, once in a while, we need to give ourselves a timeout, too.
The sports I played were all team sports and there was a definite sense of camaraderie among teammates. Mothers have that, too. If you are lucky, you will find other moms who commiserate with each other and support one another through thick and thin.
Hopefully, teamwork is another sports concept mothers can employ. My team includes my husband, my parents, my in-laws and my friends. Motherhood would be so much harder without them.
I once thought I was leaving my life of athletics behind, but I know now that those years of sports, games and competition taught me many valuable lessons that have prepared me for the sport of motherhood. I may not be undefeated or get the trophy for "Most Valuable Player," but I will reign victorious in the end (I hope)!