Yep. I’m a cheer mom.
My vocabulary is now dominated by cheer moves. I walk in eight counts. My Pinterest feed is littered with cheer bows, inspirational photos, and YouTube videos of routines. I can comb hair into a high ponytail in thirty seconds flat, in the middle of a crowded locker room, on a squirming girl who’s still trying to get her skirt on straight. I’m not just a cheer mom, I am an amazing cheer mom.
This is not the mom path I imagined. I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up. Scratch that — I was a total NON-athlete. My skills tended more toward the artistic — band, choir, drama. I just wanted my kids to be involved in something that would keep them active.
When the girls were little, their father and I signed them both up for soccer. Our hope was that even if they didn’t excel at sports, they would at least enjoy playing and spending time with their teammates. It was pretty obvious early on that neither of them would be the next Mia Hamm.
Then, one day, my older daughter discovered cheer. She was in second grade and came home with a registration form. I was a little skeptical, mostly because I’m the polar opposite of a cheerleader. But I figured she could give it a shot. Every week, she would come home from practice and do her routine over and over until she had it memorized. The little one would watch from the sidelines and imitate the older kids, begging to be part of the whole thing.Four years later, we live cheer almost non-stop from August to February, not to mention camps in the summer.
I’ve spent Saturday mornings alternately sweating and freezing on the sidelines of the football field to watch my daughter cheer. I’ve rushed home from work to get to the school gym in time to watch the halftime routine at basketball games. I’ve spent whole days sitting on hard bleachers watching cheer teams ranging from pre-K to high school show off all of the work they’ve put in.
For all of my doubts, cheer has been one of the best things to happen to me as a mom. The cheer community in northern Vermont is more of a big family than groups of teams competing against each other. I clap and yell just as loudly for other teams as I do for my daughters’ teams. Every competition season is like a family reunion, where we get to see other moms that we don’t usually get to talk to, and marvel at how our kids are growing up.
And I can’t believe what a great thing cheer has been for my kids. It’s amazing to watch them help each other practice their routines at home. It’s one of the few things that they can actually do together without bickering. They’re learning so much about teamwork and trust — you can’t throw a human being up in the air without her having absolute faith that you’ll be there to catch her. I’ve seen them surrounded by teammates in victory and defeat, and have watched them learn the hard lessons that come with both. I have no doubt that they have made lifelong friends out of some of their teammates.
So yes, I’m a cheer mom.
I’m the voice that my kids hear above all the others when their teams are out on the mat. I’m beaming with pride regardless of whether or not they nailed their routines. I’ll be the one on the bleachers supporting the football and basketball teams by proxy as I wait for my babies to take the floor with poms and signs in hand at halftime. I’ll be standing in line outside in February because I had to drop my kids off early for practice four hours before the doors open for competition. You’ll see me mingling with other teams’ parents. I’ll be clapping and yelling for their kids just as loudly as for my own.