Because I'm not her mom
“My daughter listens to you more than she does to me.” I hear this often from the mothers of the athletes I coach. Sometimes it’s a confession, sometimes it’s a recognition, other times it’s a question, “is that normal?” My response, every time is, "Of course!"
Because I'm not her mom.
I had a great mom. All my friends said so. She packed extra food in my cooler to share with teammates. She let us crash in her basement. She even let me drive her minivan so more of us could ride together to football games. She was great. But she was still my mom.
She wore mom pants and went to work. She was in high school eons ago. She hadn’t had boyfriend problems for decades. Did they even have high school sports when she was my age?! I rolled my eyes at her. A Lot! I didn't take her advice. Like ever! Because, "how would she ever understand?" Seriously. She was my mom. Her job was to drive me places. Buy me things. And Give. Me. My. Space.
Today, as a thirty-something, I realize those thoughts are a) untrue and b) unfair. But they are also c) not uncommon for every teenage girl.
This is why our girls need more women sowing into in their lives than just their mothers... and the Kardashians!
Especially in the world of sports.
Our athletes need to see women who can handle adversity without taking off their clothes. Women who can compete without calling someone a bitch (or worse). Women who can win with grace and who can lose with just as much.
Women who understand what it's like to compete with cramps. To have been told they couldn't do, or would never be, because they had hips and boobs. Women who have broken up with a boyfriend and still found a way to win.
From the shallow aches of teenage angst to the deep yearnings for belonging and worth, our girls need genuine women role models, mentors and friends. In the same way we argue boys need male role models, our girls need women they can look up to, confide in, and hear say, "I've been there too and you'll be okay."
I have read and heard a lot of discussion on the lack of women representation today, specifically in coaching. At all levels, from pee wee to pros. While I feel the urge to break out in song and bark, “Where all my girls at?” I think that’s a post for another day. Because there are women out there. I see them. I know them. We just forget to look outside our homes and up from our phones.
These strong, smart, just-what-your-daughter-needs mentors may or may not be coaching on the sidelines, but they are their English… Music… Fourth grade teachers. They are their yoga instructors, counselors, or bosses. They are the other mothers volunteering in the concession stand, or making the team lunches. Or even the grandmas wrapped in blankets in the stands.
Please hear me out. I am convinced, that as women, regardless of our role, we downplay our experiences, our passions, and our convictions as if they don’t matter. But they do. They do! And our girls need to hear them. While it may take your own daughter another ten years to see the strength and wisdom in you, please allow her to find what she needs in someone else. (And don’t forget to be the ‘non-mom’ for someone else in the meantime!).
"While it may take your own daughter another ten years to see the strength and wisdom in you, please allow her to find what she needs in someone else."
Just a couple weeks ago, I sat across from two of my former athletes and listened to them gab away about moving from home and working a real job, planning weddings, and yes, even their moms. Sipping my hot cocoa, I couldn’t help but fixate on the peculiarity of time. How quickly these two grew into smart, strong women themselves. Mostly, that evening, I was overcome with gratefulness. Grateful these two still include me in their little reunions, but more so, I am grateful for their mothers. For allowing me to play this role of Coach and Mentor and now Friend.
Of all that I have given in my profession as a coach, I have reaped more than I imagined. SO much more.
How about you? Where can you step up and be the Coach, the Mentor, the 'Non Mom', to someone in your world?
Play Now, Play YOU!
XO, Coach D
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