by Katie Sznewajs

It’s Mother’s Day All May, an essay series for May that explores the intersection of parenting and running. Enjoy!

It’s the end of May—the end of spring sports, the end of the school year, the end of packing lunches—and I am exhausted. Even though this has been (hopefully) the weirdest school year we will ever have, the past few months have quickly reverted back to typical end-of-the-year schedules where it’s a blur from pick-up to bedtime between practices, playdates, graduations, homework, and dinner on the road.

And while I am exhausted and crawl into bed most nights by 9pm, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because it’s worth the hustle.

I played a lot of sports as a kid—with 3 older brothers and a dad who wanted to shoot hoops in our backyard every night, I really didn’t have a choice. I loved basketball, soccer, tennis, synchronized swimming (yes, it’s a thing!), and everything in between. It’s how I spent my days after school, on the weekends, and during the summer with friends and teammates. They are memories I will always cherish.

Which is why, even though I often look at my calendar and wonder how the heck I am going to get my kids to 3 different places all over the city at the same time, we just find a way to make it work because it’s important to all of us. The lessons I learned through sports, and the ones my girls are learning, are ones that will live with them forever.

My oldest daughter, who is 11, took a while for to land on her favorite sport: swimming. She tried soccer, tennis, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, skiing, gymnastics, and a few others I can’t remember, and she didn’t really like any of those sports. She finally told us that she’s afraid of balls (insert laughing/crying emoji) so that ruled out most sports. But once she started diving into the pool and gliding through the water, she realized swimming is her jam. And she loves it.

My middle daughter loves to play soccer, and because of an incredible coach she has gained a lot of confidence over the past few years in her ability to play. She is now cruising along on her team and has dreams to play in high school. (She’s only in 4th grade, so that may change, but I love that she is dreaming big!)

My youngest daughter loves every sport she plays and hasn’t landed on a favorite yet, which is totally fine in my book because she’s only 8. She goes out on every field and competes fiercely, giving it her all and then some. Even though we sometimes need to tamper down her emotions when they’ve lost a game, I not-so-secretly love how much she cares.

As we all know, sports are about so much more than the benefits to your physical health. They’re about building confidence, learning good sportsmanship on and off the field, building friendships with your teammates, and working hard. All qualities that help us out in just about every situation life throws at us.

I’m grateful to my parents for introducing me to sports when I was little; driving me around to all the practices, and having dinner in the fridge when I came home late from soccer. And I’m so grateful that I get to do the same for my kids. Am I exhausted at the end of each day? Yes. But I sure as heck wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have sports played a big role in your family?