Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tennis Anyone? Being a Mom is Universal

Today my guest is Jennyfer Matthews, an American living in Cairo, Egypt. She shares glimpses into her life on her blog, and I'm happy to have her at Terry's Place today. When raising kids, some things are the same no matter where you live.

(I'll continue my RT recap tomorrow)

Ever since my daughter was old enough to walk, she wanted to kick a ball. Beach ball, cheapo rubber ball, soccer ball, it didn’t matter - like a puppy, if it was a ball she would chase it. She was not just enthusiastic, she was good. I have pictures of her at age two running behind a soccer ball, hair flying.

About a year ago, I signed her up for tennis lessons. It seemed like a good idea at the time – she is well coordinated, loves to run and play sports, and tennis is a sport you can play for life, right? My son decided he wanted to join in as well, so I signed him up too. Monkey see, monkey do. One more way to get them off the couch and tire them out is never a bad thing.

The logic was sound, but little did I know how tennis lessons would creep up and take over my life.

Keep Reading...
During a water break at my daughter’s first lesson, the coach came over and asked me if this was her first lesson. I said yes. First ever? Yes, I replied. She’s never had lessons before, anywhere else? No, I answered. He nodded his head and looked thoughtful.

It’s just shy of a year since then and my daughter has zoomed up through the various tennis groups available. She’s now with an advanced group that meets 7 hours a week, in which she is the youngest member and the only girl. She’s been in there for a couple of months and she’s rapidly gaining on them.

She’s a gifted athlete – I’m both astonished and proud of her progress. But it’s a tough job being a tennis mom. Aside from being at the lessons for 10 hours a week between both children, there’s the competition. I’m not talking about junior tournaments or the other tennis moms (though some of them are crazy!) I’m talking about within myself.

I’d be hard pressed to name one professional tennis player from this decade – I haven’t watched a match since the late 1970s. The point system makes no sense to me – what’s up with “love” anyway? A zero is a zero! I used to chase balls for my mother but have never swung a racket myself. I could use the time they are lessons to read, write, or socialize but instead I am at the fence watching them play. But I’m not just watching, I’m studying them. I love to watch them play and appreciate the beauty of a well played point. Even some of the shots that don’t succeed are amazing. But can I help it if I also notice the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents, er the other children, who they play? I’m not blind, after all.

The fact that I sometimes slip tips into post-practice walks home is just me holding up my end of the conversation.

One of the other tennis moms showed me a book she has on raising tennis kids. It never occurred to me there would be such books available. I have since read that book and have now started on sports psychology. But I read them in private – I don’t want to be labeled one of “those” moms. If I absolutely have to take one out in public, I borrow a dust cover from a hard back mystery on my shelf. I would much prefer people should think I’m just a really slow reader! Would you think badly of me if I admit that I occasionally dream about tennis?

Honestly, keeping it all in perspective is a lot of work. The coach is enthusiastic and often talks of tournaments and scholarships. That is all very attractive – particularly in light of the investment of time and money we are putting into tennis lessons. However, I am trying hard to keep in mind that my daughter is still young. She’s got a lot of time to develop other interests and go in another direction. She also loves soccer – and her soccer coaches are equally enthusiastic about her talent.

Did I mention that she’s only 8 ½?

Today the coach told me that after the summer he wants to start working with my son one on one because he has such talent.

Here we go again!

Jenyfer Matthews is an American currently living in Cairo, Egypt. In addition to being a slightly unbalanced sports mom, Jenyfer Matthews is the author of three contemporary romance novels available digitally from Cerridwen Press . Her first novel, HERE TO STAY, is now available in print from Amazon. T learn more about Jenyfer, visit her website.


Mona Risk said...

Terry it was good seeing you at RT.

Jenyfer, you proud momma, you have two future glories here. I am married to a man who made us accept long ago that no emergency can occur on tennis time. I tried hard to learn years ago but could never match his strength and ended up quitting because of the stress. He started our grandaughter (5) and apparently she's doing well.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

LOL, Mona!
I considered taking lessons but I didn't relish being beaten by small children :)

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Terry,
Jennifer my boys never liked tennis which was unfortunate. I would ahve loved for them to be able to play. Foot and cricket were all they were interested in. It must be wonderful living in Egypt, I would love to visit there.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Jenyfer, it sounds like you have LOTS to be proud of. :) Best of luck with the internal balancing act and good luck to you and your family!

Mary Ricksen said...

Nice to meet you Jenyfer. Don't kids take up your whole life, how do you do it and still find time to write?

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Margaret - I'll be even busier with sports in the fall when both children will participate in the community soccer league. I'm just as proud (and neurotic) on the pitch as well!

Stacey - I suppose it's a mother's job to be proud of their children, no matter the reason. It's keeping it all looking normal to the outside world that's the trick :)

Mary - It hasn't been easy to find time to write recently at all and with summer vacation coming up, it will only get worse since I don't concentrate well with the kids hanging around making a ruckus. I'm considering getting up earlier to compensate - and if you knew me, you'd know how much of a sacrifice that is!