Anyone who knows me, knows I spent the majority of my youth on a soccer field. My weeknights were spent at practice, often with two practices a day due to being on both school teams and travel teams. Saturday mornings were spent at games in the hot Florida sun covered in dirt, sweat and with my favorite number eight on my back. Soccer was my first love, before I realized how cute boys were of course, and all of my best friends played alongside me. Even though I was never the best player on the team, I loved the sport and I worked really hard to be the best that I could be. I stopped playing after high school, but I always imagined myself back on the fields someday but this time cheering from the sidelines for my own children as they raced the ball towards the goal.
Well, like most things in motherhood things don’t always go according to how we planned in our pre-kid minds. When my oldest daughter was just three years old her preschool had a soccer program and a gymnastics program. I remember eagerly talking to her about it and she made it clear, the activity outside with the ball wasn’t going to happen. Gymnastics it was! After that I signed her up for dance as she admired an older cousin who was well versed in dance and she instantly loved it. It was pretty clear that soccer, wasn’t happening. Even though she adores dance, when a friend of mine invited us to her daughter’s cheerleading meet and greet I was adamant that it wouldn’t be for my daughter. I just knew the screaming, jumping, and tumbling wouldn’t do it for her but we went to support our friends. Sure enough, to my surprise once again, the minute the doors opened from the meet in greet out runs my daughter screaming and jumping for me to sign her up because she was now a “cheerleader!”
The next thing I know I am sitting in a meeting with a packet as thick as a college syllabus listening to team costs, descriptions of uniforms, make up kits, and talk about mandatory twice a week practices. With my head spinning, I spoke with my daughter over and over to make sure this is what she really wanted and she was set. After just a few practices, she was hooked and told me she has found her sport. In just the one season my daughter has been cheering I am still learning every week just how different the cheer world is from the one of my youth. They practice make up before competitions and both facial expressions, high ponytails (four fingers from the forehead!) and “being clean” is very important.
There is still so much I don’t know about the sport, don’t ask me what any of those tumbling moves are called yet; I have no clue. What I do know though is that these little girls work so hard for being just six years old and I am blown away by what they can do. I sit in total awe watching the older girls perform; they are amazing athletes. The sport is very different from the one I know but the outcome in so many ways is the same. These girls are doing something they love, alongside their friends, working hard every week to be the best they can be. They laugh, smile and radiate a sense of joy as they walk out on and they are learning the important lessons about both winning and losing.
And as my oldest daughter has done since the day she was born, she is teaching me something new and to see the world with new eyes. I am rocking my glittery cheer mom shirt and although my weekends aren’t spent on a soccer field (not yet anyway, I do have two more kids yet to choose their sports…) I am beyond proud to be sitting in a gym watching her do what she loves. No stage mom here, just a a mom with no dance ability whatsoever, cheering as loud as she can for the girl who makes her proud every step of the way.