Looking back over the last eight years, I realize I’ve put tens of thousands of miles on my cars. I’ve worn through two sets of snow tires, at least three sets of snow cables, and bottle after bottle of anti-freeze windshield washer liquid. I’ve learned to keep blankets, towels, shovels, lighters, lanterns, water and kitty liter available at all times-just in case. I’ve mastered the art of breakfast-in-the-car, preheating burritos at 4am, and how to pack enough food to keep two teens and a dad satisfied until wearily, they return home for dinner.
This year, I’ve had a shift in parenting, creating a shift in lifestyle. One of my athletes is on her own, stuffing her ski bag with Cliff bars, water bottles and squished pb & j sandwiches. She remembers her goggles and glasses and wax and poles all by herself. She follows in our family footsteps of preparedness like a champ.
My other athlete has been sidelined, injuries forcing him to rest, heal, and reevaluate. He’s found – finally – a few new outlets for his every-present energy (I never thought I’d be so grateful for skateboarding), and is, at this moment, tossing a lacrosse ball with his buddy to try out a new sport.
Tomorrow we head up for our first – and last – ski day of the season. Broken legs and ski slopes don’t make good friends, it turns out. We’ll still wake in the dark, bundle up and tumble to the car in the pre-dawn hours, armed with strong coffee and warm burritos. We’ll watch the sun rise over the Sierras, and breathe deeply the air of our home away from home. We’ll have one more day to test the muscles ripped apart last summer. One more chance to get my athlete back where he belongs.
I’m pleased that this all coincides with a feature I have on Ten To Twenty Parenting – a post I wrote a few years ago, when these kids were in the throes of racing, when parenting an athlete was as normal as sending them off to school each day – when I never even considered doing anything else.
To read my feature article, Parenting Athletes: How And Why I Do It, click here. Maybe it will trigger some fond memories of parenting your own athletes, too.