The evolution of a non-sporty mom

When I was little, I was so afraid of dogs that I refused to set foot in our neighbours’ house.

This wasn’t a small inconvenience; they had two little girls who were my best friends in the neighbourhood.

Many years later I finally got over my fear of dogs and I’m pretty comfortable around animals now. Yet both our kids get frantic if they get within 20 feet of a dog, even if it’s on a leash.

It makes me wonder if they somehow got this phobia from me. And if so, what else am I unconsciously teaching them about themselves and the world?

I’ve been reflecting on the remarkable changes I’ve noticed in my children’s attitudes toward sports. I feel relief when I see them enjoying their recent activities like sportball, karate and tennis.

But I wonder if this positive change is a natural development? Or were they tuning into my nervousness around sports which in turn caused both their lack of confidence and interest?

I used to think that with non-sporty parents like us, the kids wouldn’t get the exposure to sports they needed to keep up with their peers. And although I never said it out loud, I definitely thought that when it came to athletic activities they were a bit screwed.

Getting involved with Active for Life has been pivotal in helping me see the importance of sports and physical literacy. And it has given me more confidence about the choices and decisions my husband and I make when it comes to our children’s activities.

Now I know that I have to stop listening to that unhelpful voice in my head. Maybe I didn’t end up being the most athletic kid in the world, but that doesn’t stop me from being a great role model to my kids now.

And what’s been a huge revelation is that my bad sports experiences weren’t due to a missing gene. The reality is that I was only lacking some proper instruction and a good sports bra.

(Neat fact: the sports bra for the *ahem* larger-chested female was not invented until 1988. So when I was being made to do long distance runs in gym class, in 1983, it wasn’t pretty. Luckily today’s girls have the right gear to stay in the game.)

I’m starting to believe that focusing on fear, failure and past deficits creates invisible, toxic darts that shoot right into the psyches of these innocent little people. They haven’t put limits on themselves and what they can achieve. I may have unwittingly done that for them. How scary is that?

So with this new awareness, I’m now paying more attention to how I frame my thoughts. I am trying to stop the self-criticism and judgment.

The conscious negative thoughts were easy. Now all I’ve got to do is figure out how to stop the unconscious ones.

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