Being a mom of a family is very similar to being the coach of a team. There's the draft, practices, disciplinary actions, incentive programs, public appearances, uniform issues, healing of hurt egos, celebration of successes, and the bye week. So let's break this down.
Moms begin with the draft. Most often we start with the husband and then we recruit the kids (often done by giving birth or adoption). Sometimes we have to cut the husband, but hopefully he is an awesome player, may even be the MVP. Many times we want to cut the kids, but alas we cannot. Our roster then grows with the people we recruit to help us with the family. The grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and family friends. We can add teachers, religious personnel, babysitters, housekeepers (if we're lucky). Anyone that mom feels will help lead her team to victory. And when it comes to families the victory is getting through the week without injuries.
Practices come in all kinds of scenarios and in this game it usually has to do with public appearances. Some go like this, "Okay, kids when you see Grandma and she asks you if I cooked this week, you're gonna say yes, right? And about church? We go every Sunday, don't forget to tell her that. Okay so high five everyone, we're ready to go in for that family dinner we've all been waiting for. Yes Jason, we love family gatherings... hey, say that when you see Aunt Gina."
And of course, with practices come incentive programs. Incentive programs are a part of any good team and all coaches know it. This does not mean begging family members to do what's right, "Please don't embarrass me in front of Aunt Cindy." A strong coach says, "You ruin dinner at Aunt Cindy's and I'll ruin your night on the computer." Unless, of course, it's about team building and that conversation goes like this, "Do not embarrass the family name, your father has already done a good job at that. Now, let's all put on our game faces and act like ladies and gentlemen. And if you're all good and don't embarrass me we'll stop for ice cream on our way home." Out of the car we go, hoping that the extended family scrimmage works out well. When it doesn't the coach needs to employ disciplinary action. Many times the coach begins with denial of the penalty. "My son would never do that." And when you get home coach says, "What made you think that smashing Aunt Cindy's pumpkin in front of your cousins was a good idea? You couldn't have done it when no one was looking?!"
This is when "time out" is needed for all involved. It's when the best thinking occurs for crimes committed. The rule of thumb when dealing with very young children is always one minute for every year of the child's age, but when dealing with teenagers it can include days at a time. If dad needs to go into time out it cannot be in his room with the TV programmed to the football game!
Uniform issues can go pretty well as long as all children are under the age of 10. After that it's all about catching them before they walk out the door. Remember, girls like to wear big sweatshirts over their unacceptable mid-drift tops. And as far as boys, they dress in odd ways mostly because they don't know any better, unless of course your son is a clothes horse and he can help you dress. If that's the case on your team, take his advice.
Healing of hurt egos due to fumbles is what all moms do best and as coaches it could make all the difference for future wins. Encouraging comments after a fumble sounds like this, "I know you studied for that test, it's okay, you'll do better next time." Or, "That boy didn't deserve you anyway." Or, "Hon, don't worry you'll land that job real soon." Whatever is needed to encourage a team player to get back in the game is what good coaches employ.
Celebrating of successes are a must on any team. Celebration in all its forms serve as great ego boosters, positive bonding experiences, make good memories, and captures the fun that should be experienced with any sport. Without celebration life doesn't amount to much. So don't forget to do that touch down dance when they've passed that exam, patting heads and butts after they've walked away from that school fight, or the hugging and kissing after that random act of kindness.
The Bye Week... this is the time to rest, reflect, and redirect. It's what vacations are made of and should never be canceled for any reason. Again, memories are made during bye week. The team gets to breathe and take a moment to reflect on all their hard work. It's the time when everyone's energy gets replenished. It's when we create our upcoming moves with a calm mind and a hopeful heart. It's when we get to look at all members of our team and feel grateful for their existence, participation, and loyalty to the team. It's the moment when the coach gets to look at herself in the mirror and say, "Job well done."
You can read Dr. Donna's recent blogs at drdonnasheartcockleblog.blogspot.com