I admit it. I use my kids.

February 26, 2012

First comes love. Then, comes marriage. Then, comes baby in the baby carriage. Then, come two more babies. Then, there goes your social life.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I remember my husband and I partying at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge Street after the Nebraska Cornhuskers reclaimed the national football title (1997). I remember receiving phone calls from friends and strangers alike asking me to sub on their softball and volleyball teams. I recall making last-minute decisions to go road tripping without having to line up anyone to take care of our belongings.

But then I blinked. And now everything is different. Not worse…just different.

We just completed a weekend (that’s two days) of watching our boys play seven basketball games with an under-the-weather toddler in tow. And a dog at home to feed and walk. And a whole slew of other responsibilities that, well, just had to wait.

This weekend was not unlike the past three months’ worth of weekends, except for one thing: This weekend I stopped the blender known as our family downtime for a few minutes to reflect. I looked around and realized that our two boys, in their whirlwind of activities, have naturally welcomed new friendships into not only their lives, but also in their parents’ lives. I have used my kids without even realizing it…to make new friends.

Every season starts the same way. We, as the parents of the players, cart our boys to and from countless gyms. We rarely pause to exchange more than a cordial smile and brief hello with one another before our attention is diverted to our children’s inability to keep their shoes tied, drink enough water, and pay attention.

But then the season progresses and we spend countless hours with the same group of parents on the bleachers yelling at our children to hustle and reminding the referees of all the calls they’ve missed. We collectively cheer when everything’s going our way, and conversely commiserate when we struggle.

I have gotten to know more than the names and numbers of my children’s teammates. I’ve come to appreciate that each of their teammates has remarkable people in their lives who care as deeply for their sons as I do mine.

I am thankful for the mom who, despite raising her two boys as a solo parent until her husband comes home from Afghanistan, always remembers to bring my daughter a treat.

I am amazed by the mom and dad who both religiously attend every single game AND practice together, not because they need to, but because neither wants to miss a second of watching their boy learn and grow.

I am in awe of the parents of twins who must congratulate and comfort two boys after every competition.

I am humbled by the mom of the superstar who always plays down her own child’s unbelievable talent in support of the team’s overall good.

I can’t believe that after all these months on the sidelines, after all of money I’ve drained on entrance fees and concession stands, and after all of the wear and tear I’ve put my van and body through carting these kids to B.F.E. and back, I am sort of sad to see the season winding down.

We have had some good memories this year.

Little guys with the huge hardware.

Big boys and bigger smiles.

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4 responses to I admit it. I use my kids.

  1. 

    Great stuff Heidi.

  2. 

    Wow Heidi you nailed it – We aren’t Joe or Heidi anymore we became Jacksons dad and Austins mom. The bond between parents watching their kids try to accomplish something together is strong. Thanks for so eloquently showing us that

  3. 

    You will never look back and say “I spent too much time with my kids.” Time well spent and good friends made for you. Win win!

  4. 
    Andrea Johnson March 2, 2012 at 12:07 am

    What a great post, Heidi! I feel the same way and will miss the great set of kids and parents we have on the team. I am especially thankful for the chance to get to know you better this season… I truly look forward to the many more “bleacher booty” seasons we have cheering the Tbirds on to victory. I know the time will fly by before our eyes…How fun it will be!