I got the "Bad Mom" look at gymnastics last night. You know the look i'm talking about--the one where the other mom looks at you, arranges a slightly upturned smile to her mouth to hide the obvious disdain, then gives you a quick look and turns away.
It was one of those rare nights where i'm at gymnastics from beginning to end (430-730). I rarely stay the entire time because...well, let's be honest here, I have other stuff that needs to happen. It's called 'LIFE.' Even when I'm NOT at gym, we're so busy that when Friday rolls around, SMM and I have to reintroduce ourselves to each other:
"Hi, I'm Stephanie, your wife."
"Ahhh, yes. I remember you fondly. Shall we have a drink?"
I'd like to explain that we're not crazy parents that overschedule our kids. Jenna cheers and takes piano, and Clairey takes gymnastics. For 12 hours a week. Those 12 hours are not forced upon her. The kid LOVES the gym. And, i kid you not, when she's NOT at gym, she's still doing gymnastics. In our house. (Where she is often yelled at for doing gymnastics.)
So, back to the story at hand.
The mom was at the gym for the first time. (Any 'gym moms' that are reading this now absolutely and completely understand this story--even though I haven't really told it--and are nodding their heads.) Her daughter has never taken gymnastics before, and according to the mom, is a natural. Her little one (9 years old) had fallen victim to this year's Olympics, and has been begging to take gymnastics. So, her parents obliged. I chit-chatted with this new-to-the-gym mom and watched her child and oo'd and aahh'd right along with her. THEN...she asked, "How old is your little girl?"
"9--in fact, today's her birthday.." I answered.
"Where is she?"
"She's back there...on the floor...she's the one with the really short hair and navy leo."
"Oh...you guys were already here when we got here..."
"Yeah, we go from 430-730."
"Wow...that's a long practice."
"Yes...we're here four times a week."
The silence always indicates that the mom wants to say something, but is trying to figure out a 'nice' way to say it.
"That's a lot for a little kid."
"It is, but she's been in gymnastics since she was 2. She begs to be here. She loves it."
And, it's always here, right at this moment, that i feel the need to elaborate. Because i very much realize that that sounds like an excuse. Like i'm one of those crazy-ass 'Toddlers in Tiaras' mothers who is forcing her kid to do something she doesn't want to. So I offer, "I'm not kidding. She really DOES love it. She wants MORE hours, and would live here if I let her."
ENTER: Look of disdain and 'bad mom' look.
One part of me wants to keep going with the explanation, but i don't. It's extremely hard to explain to people that your 9-year old has a better work ethic than most adults you know. It's hard to explain that even when she's NOT at gym, she's on her bar or beam trying to perfect her routines, or simply "conditioning." It's hard to explain to anyone BUT another team mom/dad. And I think that's why we have such an awesome comraderie. Because we KNOW how driven these kids are. We KNOW how they love being at the gym. And we know that even if we tied them down, they'd find a way to do gymnastics.
I know i'm not a bad mom. Maybe 'new gym mom' thinks I am. But I know i'm not. And my 9-year old thinks i'm the BEST mom--because i let her do gymnastics all. the. time.