My basement smells like a locker room. There is a soccer ball in my master bathroom and a lacrosse ball rolling around the back of my car (which I now know, has a four hockey bag limit—they should have put that in the sales brochure).
‘Tis the season I suppose, except that with three kiddos fully engaged in playing soccer and now hockey, I feel like the sports seasons never end. And if I take a minute to think about it, I don’t really mind it. Am I crazy? Probably.
Yes, there is chaos. Three kids usually means three different practice times, three water bottles to be filled, three smelly jerseys (and kids) to be cleaned. But it also means there is a running conversation in our house that I never imagined. My 10, 7 and 5 year old talk to each other about practices and games (how’d you do? have you ever done this drill? how many goals did you score?). They practice with one another and share tips on everything from ill-fitting equipment to actually sharing equipment. There is a common bond between my gang that until now, has not been formed through school or any other interests. They are separated enough by gender and age to avoid any real competition (for the moment) and can just enjoy their sweaty home team.
We didn’t plan this sporty clan. We let our son choose his path and we dutifully chauffeured. Who knew that his sisters would follow suit? I have joked that they adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, but I see it differently now. I think they saw the fun their brother was having, and tired of sitting on the sidelines, my girls decided to get in the game. And while I am glad my son is keeping busy, playing sports and having fun, I am more than a little thrilled when I see his sisters take to the field or ice.
I can’t help but hear those familiar statistics run through my brain: girls in sports are less likely to drink or do drugs, girls in sports do better in school, girls in sports have higher self-esteem. But you know what? I have a boy in sports too and thankfully these stats apply to him as well.
I had once fantasized that my brood would be connected through a sacred family tradition or shared genetic features. This isn’t always the case. And if together, my boy and girls can help each other strengthen their identities and build confidence through a common love of sports, then our entire family will surely benefit as a whole (although I can’t say our odorous basement will fare so well).