Dear Cheer Moms and Dads of Littles,
Hang in there, it gets better.
I see you dragging that beautiful little cheerleader, whose bow is bigger than her head, behind you. I’m talking to the moms of the grade school babies who live, eat and breathe All Star competition cheer.
The moms who tell their non-cheer mom friends how awesome it is.
It is awesome.
There is nothing like being at a competition watching your daughter and her team "Hit Zero" on a routine you know they poured blood, sweat and tears into for months. Watching them jump up and down screaming when they get that first jacket.
But I also know there are sides to this sport you don’t share with those that wouldn’t understand.
I remember running around the house after work hunting for the sponsor shirt (or God forbid the cheer shoes or cheer bow) when you should have left 30 minutes ago and now you are going to get to the hotel after dark and you aren’t sure where it is but you know it’s not in the best part of town.
I remember making sure the American Girl doll and all her uniform parts and her bow were packed, as well as the ratty bear she couldn’t go to sleep without that was somehow never in her bed.
You don’t tell non-cheer moms about hoping the family next door at the hotel is a cheer family too because they might not call child protective services on you when they hear the screams as you try to get the curl former in or straighten her tangled matted hair.
I remember trying not to curse the next morning when she moved her whole head to look up instead of just her eyes while I was trying to draw the dang eye liner on. I remember distracting her with cartoons, bribing her with candy and trying not to yell at her mostly because I didn’t want her to cry and mess up the makeup I just worked so hard on. I remember her saying I didn’t get the makeup right.
I remember pulling my hair back into a low pony and throwing on my sponsor shirt and running out without makeup myself because there was no more time.
Why do the cheerleaders that need the most help getting ready always compete first thing in the morning?
I know the feeling of getting lost on the way to the venue, of not being able to find parking. I even know what it’s like to walk clear around the arena only to figure out that you are looking at the wrong purple team then wonder how on earth those Mommas could have their hair done, make-up on and be wearing coordinated outfits with almost as much bling as their daughters?
I remember frantically searching for the message telling me where we were supposed to be. I remember never wanting to look at another hot dog or nacho. I remember the exhaustion of knowing we were going to do it all over again the next day.
I’m here to tell you hang in there; it gets better.
Last week we were going to a one day competition only two hours away so we weren’t planning on getting a hotel. Only there were injuries on the team the day before so the coach needed them to check in early to fix the routine and it was supposed to snow. I decided we better go Friday night.
I told my 13 year old daughter we were leaving and proceeded to get online to find a hotel. When I got done she had everything she needed sitting on the bed next to her suitcase including the cheer backpack that was completely packed. In fact, she finished packing up both of us after I grabbed some clothes and then she loaded it all in the car.
That night as we were falling asleep she told me I was an awesome mom and she was lucky to have me to take care of the details.
Seriously, she really did.
The next morning I had to listen to her music blaring but she got herself totally ready and I had plenty of time to get myself ready. She even brought me up a muffin from the breakfast bar.
As I watched her brushing her hair I remembered how hard this all used to be and I wanted to tell you it gets so much easier.
These days all I have to do is sew in the hair. I know where all the venues are and where the best parking is. I know (Certifiably CheerMAD Tip) the shoe compartment at the bottom of a Rebel Dream Backpack is never checked at the door when it is zipped up into the bag.
I have cheer mom friends who are the best and will pitch hit for me in an instant if I need them and yes we have blinged-out matching jackets.
And you know what? Sometimes we miss the Disney movies and the daughters who sang out loud all the way home with us instead of having their heads in their phones.
But it is easier.
So hang in there moms of cheer babies and enjoy the ride home after they win. Someday they are going to tell you that you are amazing and when they do it is all worth it.