I have been a cheer mom for 11 years. My oldest daughter started at 7 years old and will be graduating at the end of this season. My younger daughter started cheering at 5 and still has five more years to go. I, like most cheer moms, have evolved along with my children.
As a gymnast, I started training at 5 and stopped when I was 19. We didn’t have a big team like in cheer, we had four people on my team. We weren’t allowed to talk, we had to wear our hair pulled tight in a pony tail, and the gym was run like a boot camp. Gymnastics competitions were quiet and painfully stressful. The fans sat in silence and only clapped after we were finished with our routines.
Gymnastics was not the life that interested my daughters. It was bleak and boring. The only sport I knew was gymnastics, so it was a huge surprise to walk into a cheer gym and hear loud music, kids flipping, and glitter everywhere. They were hooked. I was hooked.
I became FAN-MOM.
I was the mom who dressed in the team colors, made posters, cow bells, and cheered in the front row for the team. I was proud to wear my daughters’ team colors. I even bought everything in those colors; I bought dishes, linens, clothes, book bags, and shoes. Life was cheer and cheer was new and exciting. Cheer was all about fun and even though everyone wanted to win, it was just so darn cute to see the little ones out on the floor. Win or Lose, it was just fun to be a part of the team.
Then I became THAT MOM.
Ya know, that mom that becomes too involved. The one at every practice. I had to drive my kids to practice and so I had to be there, but then I felt like I had to be there. I was the mom who watches the other kids, teams, and gyms to see where my kids ranked. I was the mom that watched every team at the competition, I knew what mistakes they made, and knew all the scores.
I was so involved with my kids’ sport that I cared more about it than they did. My kids were still just having fun and working hard. I wanted them to win.
This was a low point in my cheer mom life. Life was stressful and sad and honestly nauseating. I thankfully learned my lesson and realized that I was not a cheerleader, I was their mom.
The moment I stopped paying attention to everything my kids did opened me up to have my own life. I started to meet people and make friends, lots of friends, and great friends.
We were a cool MOM-CREW.
There aren’t many times when the moms, dads, and kids all get along. We did. We would spend birthdays, holidays, and most weekends together. Every time we went to a competition, we always knew we would have someone to sit next to, talk to, travel with, eat with, and be nervous with. Our kids needed us and so we would do our kids hair and make-up together and enjoy the chaos of our pre-competition routine.
So maybe we weren’t as cool as Taylor Swift’s crew, but we didn’t care. We had each other and life was good. Cheer had bonded us in a way that no one else could understand. Our kids loved to cheer, we loved to watch them cheer. We not only found a sport, we found family.
Our crew started out quite large. But one by one, our crew started to shrink. The next year some kids quit. The next year some move to other teams and levels. The next year we moved to another gym. Even though I was still friends with our crew, no one from my old crew went to the new gym.
I was LONER-MOM.
I was accepted into the new gym with open arms, but things weren’t the same. My oldest daughter started to drive, so I didn’t have to be a taxi and then sit at the gym. They were old enough to do their own hair and make-up at competition. They didn’t really need me around and well, they didn’t really want me around. I would go to the competition with the kids, but the kids always have to be there like six hours before they competed. My husband didn’t want show up until a half hour before the kids competed, so I would sit up in the stands all by myself.
As time moved on I did find a group of moms. These moms were just like me. They had been in the cheer world for years. They weren’t needed or wanted by their children either. Our kids were old enough to drive, do their own hair, and make-up.
Every year the kids spent in cheer, the more serious they became. At the very beginning if they fell, we would secretly laugh because they were so darn cute. After 7 years and thousands of hours training, falling wasn’t cute anymore. Not because I wanted them to win, but because they wanted to win. Cheer became very important. My girls wanted to be great athletes, and so competitions were very stressful.
My new mom friends and I realized that we didn’t need to be stressed about the competition. There wasn’t anything “we” could do. We dropped our kids off with their coach and the only thing left for us to do was to enjoy lunch and maybe a glass of wine to calm our nerves. (We all know what happens when food and wine and friends mix; lots and lots of fun.)
We became the FUN-MOMS.
With fun also may come a loss of time management. We would eat and drink and talk, and sometimes almost forget that we were at a competition. There may have been a couple times when we made it to the competition just in the nick of time.
After 9 years of competitions, it didn’t really matter what medal the team won. What mattered most was the memories. The years mush together and it is hard to remember the details, but it is easy to remember the stories. The stories about when a teammate used to get really sick and would throw up in the middle of every routine. When a flyer had to base for the first time because someone didn’t show up to the competition. When the team had a perfect routine at Cheersport, but then the entire pyramid collapsed the second day. Or when everything came together at the right time, on the right day, and their team won third at Worlds.
Then I became the SENTIMENTAL MOM.
I look back on all the memories and start to tear up. All the pain, pressure, anxiety, gossip, frustration, disappointment, and worry seems to disappear and I remember the fabulous stories.
I am proud of our cheer life. I am thankful for the people we have met, the lessons I have learned, the journey my children have experienced, the successes, and the joy cheer has brought to our family. As I look back on our daughters’ cheer life, I am filled with nothing but admiration for a sport that provided our daughters with love.
There really isn’t any other sport that I would have wanted them to try. I am glad we walked into the cheer gym and fell in love and I am happy it is coming to an end. For all good things must come to an end.
Oh wait, we still have the other daughter and five more years.