Today, I am being a bad parent and a good parent at the same time. You see, I am letting my 11 year-old daughter play hooky from school. I know, I know…what an irresponsible mom! But I do have a good reason. My daughter, who is now a level 8 competitive gymnast, is almost never home. Since she is required to train 22 hours per week, nearly every moment of her time is absorbed by school or training for her sport. Even when we do have moments together, driving to schools or the gym, she is usually doing homework. The sacrifice? Time together to swap jokes, talk about books, or learn how to French braid hair. Time to be silly and play pretend or even watch her pet hamster run around his cage. Sit down and eat family meals together? Ha! Five evenings per week, I hand my daughter an insulated thermos full of food to eat during her break.
Sometimes, I feel terrible, as though my kid is missing out on a normal childhood. Her brothers get so much more time to play with friends, to daydream, to bake cookies, and to lie about watching Spongebob cartoons. They get so much more of my personal time and attention. It seems so uneven.
“I don’t mind, Mom,” my daughter told me the last time I expressed these concerns. She is perfectly happy to eat from a thermos and breathe chalk dust 22 hours per week. She would rather swing around the uneven bars or do flips on a balance beam than daydream and play with friends. It is a sacrifice, but for her, the payoff makes it completely worthwhile.
This week, due to the time and financial commitment to her sport, she was unable to join her sixth grade classmates at science camp. So, rather than force her to go to school and be the only kid there, playing hangman and watching movies with a substitute teacher, for today, I decided to let her stay home. What a great morning it has been! We built structures together with Kapla blocks, did housework while listening to music, and then lounged around on the sofa, watching Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Then I taught her how to make the perfect cup of tea, while we discussed the book she is reading, Anne of Green Gables, and we ate warm slices of fresh, homemade bread. Next, we are going to paint our nails and practice French braiding hair. Bad parenting? Maybe. As for me, I call it balance.