My husband was an athlete, and my kids are athletes. But I was definitely not an athlete, so I don’t have great perspective on meets and other athletic events. I get way more anxious for my kids than any given event deserves!
My only real goals for my kids relative to sports is that they move their growing bodies, that they have fun, and that they feel good about themselves, their behavior, and their efforts, no matter what the outcomes are. Rationally, I know not one of their sporting events is likely to matter in the grand scheme of their lives. Still, all of that can go out the window of my anxious brain when I know my kids are nervous.
For years I have been wondering what I could do to stop feeling anxious during my kids’ sports events. Most of what I found in online searches reminded me that these are their sports, not mine – a useful reminder, for sure, but not one that I can use when I am in the middle of a worry-fest!
But last night during a sporting event with outcomes that mattered a lot to my kids, I started silently blessing every child competing. Not out loud, not to evangelize, and not to impose my religious beliefs on anyone. But as I watched every child competing, I thought, “bless that child” – part prayer, part mantra. When any child competed well, I felt so delighted for them. When a kid showed good sportsmanship, I felt so proud for them. I didn’t know most the kids competing, and I couldn’t pick any one of them out of a lineup if I had to today. But I blessed them with a sincere heart. Offering that blessing to other people’s children kept my brain busy enough that I didn’t worry as much about my own kids, which made the whole event much more fun, and way less mentally exhausting than I usually find sports competitions of any kind.
In general, I’m grateful for practices that I can use in moments that cause stress for me. Even if I tell myself 1000 times that there’s no real reason for stress, without a practice to keep my brain busy, my brain will go wherever it wants to go – especially when I am just a spectator. And in particular, I am grateful for this new practice of offering others love or kindness or blessing, especially because I know I can use it at my kids’ sporting events. Thank goodness for simple practices, and for the resulting peace of mind at my kids’ sporting events.