It’s a familiar scene. Sitting on the mom-bench at some practice, class, or rehearsal. Nine out of ten moms are buried in an e-reader, a smart phone, or a tablet. And the tenth mom? Her phone battery must be dead. Or has she just never seen kids do tumbles or goal kicks or plies or free throws before? [And is it me or are her judgmomtal eyes burning holes in the back of our screen-time-frozen brains?]
That’s the scene right now. Like, right now – yes, as I type.
It’s the umpteenth week of gymnastics. The umpteenth time I’ve dragged my kids to an extracurricular they begged to do before declaring they needed a break from the toil that is childhood, including said gymnastics class. The umpteenth time they’ve stretched, played with parachutes, run laps, scissor-kicked, and barrel-rolled.
Do I not love watching my scrumptious, little nuggets do aerobics and relays and drills and stretches?
Of course I do.
I love seeing them train their little legs to kick and run and jump in new ways. Seeing their brains make connections and their bodies make improvements.
But this is also my break. I’ve put in my time inMommy and Me class. I’ve tread water with 30 lbs of toddler in my arms. I’ve “spotted” littles on treacherous walks across the 6-inch-high squishy “beam.” I’ve run the width of the field dragging a “micro kicker” behind a soccer ball the size of his head.
This 75-minutes sliding off the world’s most uncomfortable chair, in a room smelling perpetually like sweaty feet, hoping my laptop holds its charge while simultaneously spacing out – these are my moments to be off. And if “off” means ear buds in, playlist cranked, and screen-a-scrollin’, then so bet it.
Here we are – we’re 50 minutes in and a mom next to me just tapped me on the shoulder. Apparently, my gymnast wanted my attention from behind the glass window. And Gym Mom was aware enough to notice. I thanked her, gave attention where it was due, and eventually put my ear buds back in.
“He tried four times to get your attention,” she said.
I started down a road where all mom-burns, mom-shaming, and mom-guilting lead: a road ending in Kraft dinner, Netflix night, and reading Goodnight Moon long past bedtime.
Then the tablet in her hands caught my eye.
Candy Crush!!! (Or some 2017 equivalent)
Candy Crush.?! You just mom-burned me with zero empathy and you were playing Candy Crush this whole time?!
You’ve got a lot of nerve, Gym Mom.
Maybe your kid is going to go on to gymnastics greatness and when they broadcast a vignette during Olympic Coverage, they’ll interview you and you’ll be able to say, “I attended every gymnastics practice and though, admittedly, I played Candy Crush from time-to-time, I was always aware enough to notice my kid knocking on the glass. I was camera-ready and attention-ready for the important moments.” And your medalist will attribute all his/her success to your support from the mom bench. *slow clap*
Me? I’m just hoping my kids grow in core strength and balance and maybe get enough outside-of-school exercise to fill up their P.E. form for the month.
That’s it, really.
Every season, there’s always one kid who begs to sit the bench. I can’t relate because this was never me. I fought for every bit of playing time and hated riding the pine. (And it’s a sock to the stomach every time my kid is “the kid” volunteering for a break.)
But a break on the mom bench? I get that. In a day filled with meal prep, discipline, getting out the door, dishes, dirty clothes, refereeing, parenting decisions big and small, screen-time management, clean-up time, nap-refusals, band-aids, groceries, and time-outs – I’ll take a turn on the mom bench.
We all need it.
We all deserve it.
We all appreciate it.
So you play your “Candy Crush” and I’ll do my thing over here. Yes, go ahead and notify me next time one of my littles does a cartwheel with his feet leaving the floor and I’ll be forever grateful. For now, I’ll be over here on the mom bench catching my breath before the second half.