A little over 14(!) years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, my oldest child, my brother’s mother-in-law told me that she was excited for me. My immediate thought was that she was referring to the excitement that is wrapped up in expecting your first child. It might have been that too, but she went on to explain that some of the best friendships she has ever had were made through her children — the woman with whom she stood on the sidelines and the woman with whom she shared her children and who shared theirs. And she told me that she was excited for me for the deep and lasting friendships I was soon to make.
I’ve thought often about her words and how absolutely right she was.
Over the last 13+ years, I’ve sat or stood on a lot of sidelines – in hockey arenas, baseball diamonds and on soccer pitches, at gymnastics competitions and at swim lessons, in school auditoriums and in recital halls. What I’ve learned over these years, however, is that the “sideline” doesn’t have to be just these places. The sidelines are also the lawn chairs on our cottage deck, the school yard during drop off and pick up, driveways during carpool drops, and a hundred other places where our families may have gathered together.
To all of these women: thank you.
Thank you for looking after my kids and loving them like your own.
Thank you for picking my kids up and dropping them off when I couldn’t be there. For juggling play-dates and inviting my kids over or taking them in when their sibling is sick and shouldn’t be making the school trip just to drop the others off.
Thank you for making me laugh at inappropriate times during prenatal classes, school plays, advancement ceremonies and everywhere else we’re supposed to act like adults. For knowing my favourite drink and ice cream flavour, how I need coffee before conversation in the morning, and that salted dark chocolate cures many ills.
Thank you for doing my girls’ pony-tails, and then redoing them again.
Thank you for tying my kids shoes or skates and holding their hands to cross the street. For making sure they didn’t leave their jackets on the big rocks at the school again, that knapsacks with tomorrow’s homework are not left on the park bench, and for being an extra set of eyes at the playground.
Thanks for kissing their booboos when they needed it and doling out freezies to help the hurt until I could get there. Thank you for remembering their birthdays and making a big deal out of their milestones, whether it is a new lost tooth, their first ribbon won, or finally being big enough to be out of the “baby car seat”.
Thank you for saving me a seat at the school play, and for sending me real-time phone photographs from the performance I had to miss.
Thank you for disciplining my kids when they need it and loving them even when they don’t deserve it.
Thank you for not judging my bad choices, wrong decisions or missed opportunities. Thanks for remembering I’m human and that I have made – and will continue to make – mistakes. And for loving me anyway. Thank you for supporting me. And knowing me and helping me and crying with me and mostly just for keeping me sane every single day. Thank you for forgiving me when I say or do something stupid and unkind to you.
Thanks for listening to me vent about my kids, my jobs, my leaking roof(s!), or anything else that’s driving me crazy. And for not judging me for any of it. Thanks for cheering for my kids as loud as I do and for being their biggest fans. Thanks for showing up. And being there. Even when it’s taking time away from your own family. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on, but thank you also for the girls’ nights out, the coffee (ahem wine) breaks and the laughter. Thank you so so much for the laughter.
You are my people.
I am honoured to be sharing the sidelines with you.
Happy Mother’s Day.