Crazy tennis mom was challenged to put her money where her mouth is this weekend. I am always preaching about letting the kids be responsible and owning their tennis. So when my son asked to drive himself to his tournament this week-end, I found myself in a difficult position.
I know a lot of you parents aren’t at this stage of your child’s tennis journey yet, but trust me, it will be here before you know it. Our oldest tennis player is turning eighteen this summer and heading off to college in the fall so he is at that point where I need to begin the process of letting go. Sunday morning he approaches me with the idea of driving himself three hours away, on the interstate, to play his final match of the week-end tournament (thought we would save a little money by not getting a hotel with the match not starting until 2:30). My initial reaction was “absolutely not.” “I have to do it sometime mom, next year I have to drive back and forth from college and this summer I need to drive to the tennis academy. It’s a Sunday with very little traffic and it is an easy drive. It’s a good opportunity for me to start making the longer drives.” My husband looked at me and smiled and let me know that he thought Alex was right. “You can’t keep him off the highway forever” he said. (I wasn’t so sure about that) At this point I realize I am making an emotional decision rather than a logical decision and give in and allow him to drive.
Taking control and owning his game, how can he be any more in control than taking himself to his match. He truly is the sole owner of his game when he drives himself, prepares himself and has to deal with the win or loss on his own after the match. I begin to panic, not only am I nervous about the driving, but have I really prepared him for this kind of responsibility? Will he remember to stretch before he plays, will he be too tired or distracted from the drive to be able to perform, will he take the time to think about his strategy and find his focus before the match? I was so worried about him remembering to get gas in the car, did he get his water and snack? Wait, I haven’t checked if he had fluids or food for two years now so why should I be thinking about it now? This is when the crazy tennis mom realizes, she did all she could do over the past few years, now it’s time to let go.
After he drove away I had a great sense of sadness come over me. It really isn’t about whether or not he was ready to take on all the responsibility, he has been doing that for year. It is that I am not ready to let go. I am sad that I am not as much a part of his tennis as I used to be. I enjoyed the drives to and from the tournaments. It is probably my favorite part of competitive tennis. I always had the opportunity to catch up on what was going on his life. We shared stories and music, we laughed, we argued and we enjoyed each others company. Time really does go too fast.
I am proud to say, he safely made it there and home again. He even managed to pick up a trophy on the way. I safely made it through the day without having a heart attack, so I guess it was a successful day. Will he take himself to the next tournament? I doubt it, I have to give him up too soon already so I’m not going to give up the chance to spend a few last weekends in the car with him.
Enjoy your junior tennis players and the crazy roller coaster ride they are taking you on…before you know it they are riding it alone!