Monthly Archives: February 2018

Just Cheerleaders

I didn’t grow up surrounded by a world of cheerleading. I was the only girl, both my brothers and my dad played baseball. I grew up at a ballpark…literally! And when my first child was a boy, as soon as he was old enough, there was a bat in his hand. Not just him, but my two girls that followed played baseball as well. But since my second child was a girl, I put her in cheerleading as well, something that was pretty foreign to me. Her younger sister started cheerleading at the young age of three, but my oldest daughter lost interest quickly. I have four daughters, and out of four, three of them are cheerleaders. After being a Cheer Mom for the past 19 years, I have seen my share of problems facing cheerleaders today.

Before it was my kid cheering, I didn’t realize the time and dedication that goes into being a cheerleader. It’s not just about being cute in a skirt, or wearing the biggest bow…it’s hard work! It consumes every month out of every year! For example, try outs are in April. Fundraising starts in May, as well as weekly practices that run throughout the summer. And don’t even THINK about planning ahead, by buying plane tickets for a vacation….what if it interferes with cheerleading!?! (I just CAN’T miss mom!) There are short vacations during the summer, usually a week here or there, only to start up practices 3 days a week, PLUS football games on Fridays, and don’t forget, tumbling practice somewhere in between!

And that is just Football season! Once it’s finished, they start competition season. Ask any cheerleader and they will tell you, THIS is their time to shine! They work all year to compete on weekends at different competitions. But don’t forget, it’s Basketball season as well! So they have to cheer at those games too! The last competition is in January, but they continue cheering for Basketball through February. That gives them one month and two weeks to rest and prepare for the next tryout in April!

Which brings me to why I am posting this. Our cheerleaders work hard. The coaches expect them to be at every practice and every game, no matter what. Our coaches work almost year round to prepare for the upcoming season and beyond. Our school expects the cheerleaders to be at every Football game, and every basketball game. I get it….they are cheerleaders and they should be there, but where is the support for them when it’s their time to shine? The parents have to fundraise to get money together for competition fees, hotels, transportation, and food…and if there isn’t enough raised, the parents are the ones that have to pay for it! We didn’t get a bus to go to Dallas to compete at Nationals, the parents paid airfare and for any amount left we didn’t have. We didn’t get the support other sports in the school get. Why? Because they are Just Cheerleaders! I am all for school spirit and supporting ALL of the athletes, but when is someone at the school going to realize, cheerleaders are athletes too!

We spent two and a half years in Washington when my husband received orders there. Not one time did I pay a competition fee. The school support was phenomenal for ALL of the sports. My daughter cheered not only for Football and Basketball, but for Wrestling, Baseball, Cross country, Track, and Swimming. They showed school spirit for everyone, no matter what! The football and basketball game concession stands had a “lottery”. Every sport was in a lottery for each game, and whatever sport was drawn got the proceeds for that game, and was in charge of working it. It created unity for all of the sports! No one sport was more important than the other.

It’s time for changes to be made. It’s time to recognize each sport, it’s members and coaches for their hard work they put in. It’s time for everyone to come together and make a difference for all of the kids, not just YOUR kid! I never dreamed I would be a cheer mom, but here I am, 19 years later, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Memories…The Good and The Bad

The one thing about moving into a new house that I absolutely love, is going through boxes of the memories created over the years. Today my husband was organizing the garage and brought me a few boxes to go through. One was filled with photos of the kids and their schoolwork. I spent over an hour looking through those pictures. I smiled ear to ear as I pulled every photo out and remembered exactly what they were doing or where they were when it was taken. It seems just like yesterday I had four children, under the age of 12. Long before the years of teenage angst, teen hormones, attitudes, drivers licenses, first girlfriend/boyfriends, proms, and graduations. Now I have 3 adult children, what used to be the baby is going to her first prom, and I have another baby girl I never dreamed I would’ve or could’ve had! But that’s the thing about memories….there are good, and bad ones. And just as I was busy celebrating all of my good ones, a bad memory was there to slap me in the face!

After over an hour of looking and reminiscing, one of the last picture envelopes I opened took me by surprise and I gasped! Not because it was photos I hadn’t seen before, but because it was photos I haven’t made a habit of looking at. They were photos taken by a relative during a horribly bad time in our lives, but somehow she knew one day, we would need them for closure.

Those photos took me back to being 21. I was married with a 22 month old son…a stay at home mom…when my whole world came crashing down around me! During that time everything was a blur. I don’t remember much. I remember the doctors harsh words, holding my husbands hands and talking to him. I remember the people coming in and out of our home…I can’t tell you who they were though. I remember boycotting food for 5 days…until December 31, 1994…The day I found out I was expecting our second child. And I remember the first bit of nutrition i fed myself after that 5 days, a banana, because the baby would need me to be healthy.

People may wonder why I have those photos or the video tape of his eulogy…it’s simple…he had a son, and unknown at the time, an unborn daughter. I owed it to them, to give them the option of being a part of the funeral if they chose to be when they were ready. My son was too young to understand at the time, so he stayed at home. I remember his first words when I came home…”Mommy, where’s daddy?”

I took a deep breath and looked at my sweet, innocent baby boy and said, “Daddy’s in heaven with God and the Angels!” The same sentence I repeated for years every time he asked, until he finally gave up and stopped asking. I honestly can’t tell you which was worse, saying those words over and over or the day he stopped asking.

Which brings me to my original reason for this post. My son is 25 and my daughter is 22 now. I can’t imagine having to watch either of them go through something like this at their age now. But what I can tell you, is as their mother, I’ve watched them go through it as children their entire lives.

We live in a tight knit community. Most people know my first husband and what happened. They will also speak about rumors on what they think REALLY happened, not thinking about how it may affect my kids or other loved ones. I’ve dealt with being judged for making wrong decisions during the time when my grief was so blinding, I couldn’t see what was clearly a bad decision. But with every bad decision comes a great memory, or in my case child 3 & 4! I’ve watched this town and it’s people put pressure on my son to be someone he was not, just because of his name. And the same people can somehow “forget” my daughter even exists, just because she doesn’t share the same first name! It took years for my son to truly find himself and become the man he was always meant to be. He is strong willed, compassionate, soft-hearted, tender and caring. He still has those that doubt him, but trust me when I tell you, his dad would be SO proud of the man he has become! It has not always been an easy journey, but I’m SO thankful he chose me to take it with him…the good and the bad!

And to my daughter…our last gift….what can I say but WOW! You have surpassed all of my expectations and more. You are so strong and courageous. As a small child I would catch you watching videos of your dad or looking through pictures…you know him inside and out! I still remember him saying, “I don’t want to have a girl! And if we do, she better be fat and ugly so the boys won’t want to date her or else I may go to jail!”

I said, “That’s what we have Little Pit for!” 😀

And from the first moment I laid my eyes on you, I knew his wish didn’t come true….you were the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen!

So, somewhere out there, there is another single mother making memories with her beautiful children, and sure making some mistakes along the way, but I hope that like me, she can one day look back on the bad times and know the good memories cast so much light in her life, the bad ones don’t seem so dark.

Thanks to my kids for always being the light of my life! 😍😍