From the Sidelines: Cheering on My Daughter Solo

Sundays mean soccer in our house. My daughter has a soccer game almost every Sunday. So this past Sunday afternoon, I took her to her game like I do every week. I love watching her play, and my favorite moments are when she does something awesome. She gets this magical look on her face that is full of so much pride. And there I am on the sidelines, always cheering her on. I’m her one-woman cheering section, because… well, she doesn’t really have anyone else. I’m a single mom, and her dad is about as “out of the picture” as you can get (like lives in a different country “out of the picture”). So, I sit on the sidelines and try my best to make up for the fact that I’m the only one there to watch her play.

This past Sunday, she was full of so much confidence and excitement during the game…and then, she had one of those magical moments when everything comes together just right, and she scored a goal! And let me tell you, it was a beautiful goal, with a curve to it and just the most perfect arc. As I was clapping and cheering, she turned and looked for me, and gave me a small, private thumbs up and a huge smile. I continued to clap and cheer, and a few tears rolled down my cheek because I was just so.  proud. of. her. We celebrated that goal, and all of Sunday’s game, for the rest of the afternoon.

As I was winding down for the evening that night, I was catching up with one of my friends, telling her all about my daughter’s game that day. My excitement and pride as I recalled her goal suddenly became tinged with sadness. For some reason, I focused  on the fact that I was the only person there in her life to witness that goal. My daughter will never have her mom and dad there together to cheer her on. My daughter will never probably have her dad there to cheer her on period. My daughter will never have aunts, and uncles, and cousins there to cheer her on…because she doesn’t have any of that. My heart swelled with pride for her on Sunday, but it also hurt for her. Her goal was a cruel reminder, like a slap in the face, that I’m the only person on the sidelines cheering her on. And my heart hurt a little for myself as well, because I had no one to share my pride and excitement with in that moment. No one to be like “hey that’s our kid, and look what she did.” It isn’t fair to my daughter, and it isn’t fair to myself.

It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, knowing that there isn’t another full-time parent there to help through the burdens of parenthood, but to also celebrate the blessings that come with being a parent. How can I count for two people? How can I take the place of a whole other person? I guess her soccer game and her amazing goal were a trigger for me; a reminder of how much she doesn’t have, and of how much I will never be able to give her. I don’t know if I will ever be enough, but I keep showing up every day and trying. And you better believe that I’ll be the loudest and most enthusiastic one-woman cheering section this upcoming Sunday.

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