Cheer Mom Part 3: Game Day

Cheer Competition

As I walked into Sun National Arena in Trenton,  New Jersey for my daughter’s cheer
competition, I was keenly aware that one of us would leave that night crying. 

Either they’d lose, and she would be devastated, or they’d
win, and I’d be devastated. 

Don’t get me wrong, I want what we all want for our
children.  But if you’ve read parts one
and two of my Cheer Mom trilogy, then you understand the struggles I’ve
encountered with my cheerleader daughter. 
Advancing is what the girls want and what their coaches want and what
I’m supposed to want. Yet, the next
round would mean another month of daily practices, and another month of arguments
over cheer and homework, cheer and play dates, cheer and life.  Not to mention that another round of
competition meant more costs on top of costs that I could barely afford to
begin with.

If they placed in the regional round, their squad would go
to Florida for nationals.  How was I
going to pay for that?

As we race to the cheer clubhouse that morning so that Miss
F. could make her bus, I lecture her on behavior.

“Listen to your coaches.”

“Yes, Mommy.”

“I put money in your duffle bag for lunch.  It’s for lunch and not for candy. I don’t
what to hear that you spent that money on Snickers bars.”

“Got it, Mom,” she says with an eye roll.   

Miss F. was slow to get out of bed.  The hair piece, otherwise known as a
“wiglet,” that was sewn into her hair the night before, had prevented her from
sleeping comfortably.  As I pull into the
clubhouse parking lot, I notice the dark circles under her eyes. 

She was a tired, nervous little girl, going through a huge
change at home, who had a mother who was too hard on her.

I kissed her as she boarded the bus.

“If you want Snickers with lunch, it’s OK,” I say. “I love

*  *  *

As I watched her perform, my heart clenched.   Not
only did she do a great job, but she was having fun.  Despite the pressure and the lack of sleep
and the uncomfortable fake hair, she was enjoying this moment that they worked
so hard for.

It became apparent to me in that moment that cheer brought
my girl joy, the joy of camaraderie with a team, the joy of a job well done,
the joy of taking risks.  I realized as I
watched her that I would do whatever was necessary to pay for Florida, and I
would do whatever I had to do to allow Miss F. to continue to cheer in the
years to come.  As far as the money went,
I would get another part time job to fund this.  If I could not find more freelance editing, I
would clean someone’s house once a week or wait tables.  I made the commitment to stand behind her.

It came as no surprise that her
squad took second place, and that they would advance to the next round.  The only surprise for me, was how genuinely
happy I felt.

Later that night, after meeting
the bus at the clubhouse, Miss F. and I sat at the kitchen table eating soup, while
I listened to her recount of the day.

“Listen,” I say, “I know you love
cheer.  I saw how much you love cheer
when you were out there today. I just want you to know, that if this is what
you want to do every year, then I want it for you too.”

There was silence for a moment
before Miss F. spoke.

“You know, Mommy, I’m going to
have to think about that. I love cheer, but there’s a lot of other things I
have to give up in order to cheer, and I need to figure out if it’s worth
it.  You know what I mean?”

“Yes, baby, I know what you

“It’s a big commitment,” Miss F.
continues.   “Not just for me, but for
the entire family.”  

I nod and can’t help but smile a
teeny tiny bit.

We sat there eating soup, with
the clock closing in on midnight, talking about wiglets, her bus ride, and the
notes from the judges on their routine, as my heart clenched a second time that
day, the way it does when you feel completely in synch with the people you love
the most.  

Namaste, Divas! 


I am very pleased to end this story, where I began it, on Shell's blog

This final installment is a post that I am sharing via her Pour Your Heart Out Link up. 


Cheer Mom Part 3: Game Day — 34 Comments

  1. That girl of yours has a great head on her shoulders! I’m glad that you and she are in sync now, on the whole cheer thing. And if she goes to Nationals in FL, it will be wonderful for you both. My sister’s twin daughters went to cheer nationals twice. Lots of fundraisers helped with the cost of the trip. But those hairdos? Crazy!

  2. Your daughter is amazing. Not just because she knows what she loves, but because she is able to see what it means for everyone–not just herself–if she follows her passion.

  3. So sweet! I always loved those moments when my children practiced what we taught. It always brought tears to my eyes! Beautifully said and done, Ilene. Congrats to you both!

  4. It’s lovely how people can surprise you sometimes, isn’t it? Congrats to Miss. F and her team and congrats to you for embracing the challenges that come with managing the demands of raising a family with all the financial challenges you’re facing. It’s never easy but its moments like the one you had with your daughter after the competition that make it worthwhile. 🙂

  5. The balancing act around family is incredible. It can be a constant battle between elements. I am glad your daughter’s team did well and I am happy that she is smart enough to recognize the challenges it puts ahead of her and the family. She is obviously well raised.

  6. Read through all 3 parts today and now I’m crying! But in a good way 🙂 I loved how you guys learned what cheer meant to the other and, well, just, I can’t explain, I just loved the story. You are awesome 🙂

  7. You have quite a girl! That is a very mature decision that she made, and she’s right. Dance consumed my childhood. I loved it, but I missed a lot growing up. I am so impressed that not only did your daughter recognize that cheer would take so much of her time, but she also recognized the time commitment of the family. Even if she moves ahead and continues with cheer, she’s doing it because it will be what she wants to do.

  8. I was so looking forward to reading this since I read part two yesterday. Can I just say that not only is your daughter beautiful, she is thoughtful and intuitive. That had to have been one of those moments where you know you’re doing a good job as a mom.
    My favorite part is where you told her she could have a snickers bar for lunch. My mom would sometimes allow icecream for dinner on really rough days. It never hurt any of us–just made mom all the more amazing in our eyes.

  9. Ah! We start our pop warner cheer bid for nationals in a week. My oldest daughter’s team went two years ago and it was wonderful (they placed 3rd in the nation) but also exhausting – physically, emotionally, and monetarily. I have to admit I was kind of happy they didn’t go last year.
    But this year is looking pretty good for them to go again so I might as well get on board with it.
    And I am with you all my reluctance of the time and money evaporates when I see my girls “rocking the mat”.
    Good luck to your daughter in her next round!

  10. What an amazing story. This is one I’m tucking away for when my daughter is older and goes through these same things. You and your girl have so much wisdom, I’m in awe.

  11. I am so uptight when it comes to food. I am certainly not the “fun mom” in this category! Ironically, I took them to the pancake house for dinner AND let them have the big cookies for dessert. This mom needed to lighten up. And yes, I am so grateful to have such an intuitive and thoughtful daughter. thank you!

  12. What a wise, wonderful daughter you’re raising! Wow! I love it when I surrender and am no longer holding the “no” and my loved ones can connect to what they want. Amazing story – every part rich with detail and love.

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