On October 17, I got an email invitation to join something called NaBloPoMo. Since the invitation was from my pal Mizmell, and I count on my pals to steer me in the right direction, I accepted. Only later did I realize exactly what I had done.
NaBloPoMo is the home of the National Blog Posting Month challenge (who knew there was such a thing?). By joining, I was committing to posting every day for the month of November. Every. Single. Day. All those eons ago, it sounded so simple – like dinner plans you make really far in advance and then, when the evening arrives, you find yourself scanning your internal horizons for any excuse not to go that you haven’t already used with those people, those people who you actually really like, but the reason why you like them is now inexplicably lost, hidden in such an irretrievable space in your mind that you doubt it ever existed at all. But it must have existed, right, because otherwise why would you have said “yes” to begin with?
I have a history, you might say, of “commitment issues”. For example, I was struck with an exceedingly serious case of buyer’s remorse the day after I got married. It only lasted, oh, about six months.
I have now been married for 22 years, but the idea of committing to blogging for 30 days in a row strikes fear in my heart.
Given my own “issues” with commitment, you’d think I might have been a tad more understanding when Oldest, who was all of six years old at the time, wanted to quit his first and only AYSO soccer team. Despite the fact that it was clear by the third practice that the glow of having his very own uniform had faded to a chill, grim light, we pushed him on. Despite the fact that he was always as far away from the action as he could possibly be and still be on the field, we insisted that he play. Despite the fact that he clearly, like Ferdinand, would rather be smelling the flowers in the field than elbowing his way to to the ball, we dragged him to the games. And despite the fact that, when the kind and generous coach actually gave into his entreaties to play goalie (no running required!), and he let a ball that was going so slowly that every horrified parent saw it pass him by into the goal in aaaaaaaagonnniiizzzinnnly slowwwwww mooooooootioooooon, we wouldn’t let the poor kid off the hook. I think we actually use the words “you made a commitment to your team and you have to honor it”. To a six year old. He was in kindergarten, for God’s sake. Why didn’t some wise soul point out to us that he probably didn’t even know what the word commitment meant?
Mate had played soccer in college and had a fantasy that his first-born son would share his love of the game. I had a fantasy that my first-born son would get all the opportunities for after-school sports that I, as number six of nine siblings, had been denied. We were far to busy paying attention to what we wanted to remember that the job was to help our shy and sensitive, light-years-away-from-being-ready-for-contact-sports six-year-old have a positive first experience with sports.
Most of the big mistakes I’ve made as a mother have happened when I have taken a moment in the present of a child and projected it into the future. So when my sweet, reluctant six-year old, who was suffering under the judgmental glares of the older, tougher boys, told us he really didn’t want to play soccer anymore, he immediately morphed in my eyes into a slacker 29 year-old who is incapable of holding down a job and is thus forced to live on the street. Forever.
Because he had to, Oldest gamely finished the season, but he did not play another organized sport until ninth grade. In retrospect, it is so completely obvious to me that we were crazy to force him to play. If I had it over again, I would have let him quit the team and just do what he really wanted from the beginning – wear that beautiful, shiny uniform to every single day of Kindergarten.
As for me and NaBloPoMo, I’m going to benefit from the mistake I made with child. If I really hate it, I’m gonna let myself quit.