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Confessions of a reluctant cheer mom

cheering confessionsConfession time. My daughter? Is a cheerleader. 

Take a moment and let that sink in. Especially if you’ve been a longtime (or longish time) reader. Because you know that I’m not about pep and team spirit or even wearing skirts. Glitter I can handle. The rest, though? Not so much. 

But approximately 2 years ago, when we were offering her choices for activities, she said no to all of them. Every. Last. One. And then, out of the blue, she says she wants to cheer. Naturally I was confused as fuck because really? Cheerleading? How on earth did that come up and more specifically, where did she get the idea? Certainly not from me. Or her father. I wanted to say no because what. The. Hell. How can I, of all people, raise a cheerleader. But I love my kid more than I love my stereotypes so I tried to be open minded and signed her up for the introductory classes at the Y and she loved it and showed an aptitude and now, here we are, parents of a competitive cheerleader. 

It’s truly not something I ever thought I’d be. And throughout her first year, I didn’t warm up to it quickly. At all. There were some external reasons I won’t get into but some of it did come from me. But the more we got into it, the more I gave in. And now? You guessed it. I’m a cheer mom.

And I am learning things I never thought I’d learn. Like cheerleading vernacular. Yup. It’s its own thing. Herky and high V and liberty and basket toss and teddy bear and pike jump and all the other words that are now tossed around like a flyer at my house (see what I did there? Flyer? Cheer humor at its finest). While I’m still learning some of the vocabulary, I’m now mostly fluent in cheer. We can put that in the “never thought that’d happen” bucket.

You know what else I know now? How to do cheer hair, which, incidentally, is its own thing (I also know where to buy cheer hair. So if you ever need it, just ask). I was unaware of this and, now that I am, I have a clear understanding of how the hairspray industry stays afloat. Competitive cheerleaders. My daughter used more hairspray during her first season of competition cheer than I have in 37 years of life. And I lived through the 80s and early 90s. That’s a lot of hairspray, folks.

I can totally see my daughter saying this to someone one day.

 As if that’s not enough, I now find myself encouraging her cheering. I look for cheer quotes and crafts on Pinterest. I buy her clothes with cheer stuff on them. I’ve talked to the other moms about buying specifically designed cheer mom t-shirts (and if we can’t get those, I plan to buy the sparkliest shirt I can find). I have opinions on the routines and I make her practice at home. I even find myself volunteering (okay, fine, I’m going to my first volunteer meeting tonight). When my daughter got kicked in the face by her flyer the other night at practice, I told her I was proud that she got her first injury (I have never admitted that I will win mother of the year). But the bottom line is that I’ve become immersed in cheer because I’d be a shitty parent if I didn’t. I love my kid and I support her, even if, deep down in place I don’t talk about at parties, I still don’t get it. 

But despite the fact that I don’t get it, I need to say this: I now realize that cheerleaders truly are athletes who deserve respect rather than mockery. They train and condition their bodies and do shit that really shouldn’t be humanly possible. Even at a young age, they’re lifting their flyers, doing basket tosses, tumbling, jumping, spraining, bruising, and hurting themselves all for the sake of being the best. Cheerleading isn’t just bows, sparkly makeup, and silly chants at football games (and it’s certainly not the crap you see at NFL and NBA games. That shit is simply ridiculous). It’s physically demanding, hours of practice and, at times, emotionally draining, and what impresses me the most is that when those girls get hurt, they keep going. They are badasses to a degree that only gets associated with sports like hockey and football.

I will be the first to say the bitchiness is real. I’ve seen it but typically more from the parents than the cheerleaders (parents are bad sports. Some of the worst I’ve ever seen), which is nice. And there are definitely some stage moms (including me at times. Yeah, I admit it. But if I’m spending all this money, she better work hard). And it does get frustrating when people mock you for having a cheerleader. But to see the look on my daughter’s face, and the happiness she gets at practice, football games, and competitions makes the early morning hours, the seemingly endless competitions filled with painfully loud, nearly identical cheer mixes, the loss of any social life for 6 months, and the constantly having to fend off negative comments and stereotypes about cheerleaders worth it.

So there you have it. I confess that I’m a cheer mom. My 16 year old self would be shocked. But my 37 year old self is proud. 

Linking up with Kathy for the first time in a few weeks.

Vodka and Soda

 

 

 

 

34 Comments

  1. Kerry

    Even though it may not be your thing I think it is awesome you are embracing it and supporting her interests. So go on with your bad self you cheer mom you. 😉
    Kerry recently posted…Chorizo NachosMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks 🙂

      I don’t know how NOT to support my kid. It’s just what I’m supposed to do.

      Reply
  2. Nadine

    I think that it is totally sweet that you have immersed yourself into something that you had no interest in for the sake of your daughter. I mighhhhht have been a cheerleader for ohhhh about 10 years. There are stereotypes for a reason just like there are for just about everything else out there…but it really is a sport and takes a true talent. Go mom! (see what I did there?)
    Nadine recently posted…ConfessionsMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      It really is a sport!

      I never thought I’d immerse myself in this of all things but you never know what happens when you have a child. There are the stereotypes and as long as she doesn’t let them affect her negatively, we’ll be okay 🙂

      Reply
  3. kathy@vodka and soda

    the way i see it, if they’re into organized sports that promotes camaraderie, then i’m all for it. typically, those who are into organized sports (at least from my experience/from what i’ve seen from my cousin’s kids etc) which require practice, focus, discipline etc, that leaves them less time to cause trouble on the streets/party/ruin their chances at opportunities etc. my friend has 2 boys who did competitive swimming so they had to get up at 4am to practice every day including weekends and of all their friends, they never got into trouble!! they also bonded with the folks on their team so they had the same interests and hung out with each other (no punkass kids influencing the kids!)

    thanks for linking up!
    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda
    kathy@vodka and soda recently posted…humpday confessions [8-13]My Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      100% agree with this.

      One of the reasons I can no longer hate cheer is because of what it’s done for my daughter. It’s made her friendlier and more confident, and she has learned so much discipline from it. She understands commitment and dedication and it’s nice that she has friends outside of school and our neighborhood.

      Reply
  4. katie @ that's for me to know

    My cousin is going through the exact same thing right now. She is not at all peppy, nor does she have team spirit, frankly she’s a bit of a grump….But her little girl wanted to be a Cheerleader and now she is a Cheer Mom. Not gonna lie, I’m loving the fact that I get to tease her and call her Cheer Mom. And possibly play scenes from Bring It On constantly 😉
    katie @ that’s for me to know recently posted…i will never be a ‘photographer’My Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Bring It On is REAL!!! I love that movie but used to think it was fake, especially the competition scenes. But they’re NOT. That is exactly what it’s like and frankly, it scares me a bit.

      Reply
  5. Kristen

    i think its so awesome you are supporting her and embracing it, i think that makes you a fabulous mother. i hope one day i can be like that with my kidlets. if i ever have a girl, and she wants to cheer, i shall come to you for help! secret though, i always wanted to be a cheerleader because i saw them on TV and in movies, and we dont really have them. we have cheerleaders in professional football but not high schools and what not. and we dont do college sports, so… its not a big deal there. obviously i am too old now, but there is always halloween…
    Kristen recently posted…Humpday ConfessionsMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      You’re never too old! If you have a daughter one day and she cheers, ask if there’s a parent team you can join. Sometimes they do that. And yes, feel free to let me be your cheer mom spirit guide 🙂

      I am seriously fascinated by how you grew up. It’s SO different than here.

      Reply
  6. Kelli

    Yayy you for embracing Cheer I know how hard is must be. I think my beef with Cheer is they are always cheery.:) At least if Little K ever goes that route I’ll know who to talk too although I think I’m safe. She hates dolls and pretty much anything girly so I’m guessing cheer is off the table.
    Kelli recently posted…Toilet Paper In A TreeMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      They really are way too happy but I will say that some of them are pretty sullen when they’re not on the mat. So that’s nice.

      My daughter is as girly girl as it gets so this just fits.

      Reply
  7. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I’m proud of you! You are not someone I would ever think would be a cheer mom (like I think I’d never be one) but you are one and you’re excelling at it. So great to support your kid so heartily that you can get out of your own box.

    I am all about the cheer mom t-shirts. You ladies deserve them!
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…How I know you get meMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Right? Never would I have pegged me, of all people, as a cheer mom. But this is my life. So I accept it and deal with it. No sense in hating something that’s a huge part of my life and something that my daughter loves.

      I am all for the shirts!

      Reply
  8. Chrisy Ennen

    Love this! Coming from a former cheerleader turned cheer coach (who loves all things cheer) who finally has gotten to be a cheer mom, I love that most of all! Coaching is great and watching girls get things they have been working toward is fun, but watching my girl get the stunts and the cheers and rock the competition is the best thing ever! I love it! And I am glad you are loving it, too!
    Chrisy Ennen recently posted…A Stubborn DarknessMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Totally agree…watching them rock the competition mat is the best thing ever. It fills me with wonder that my little girl can actually do that stuff! Makes me so proud. Especially when she does the basket tosses. She is a stellar base!

      Reply
  9. Linda Sheridan

    A nice, happy post! Of course you love it, because your daughter loves it. Seeing your chickens happy and involved in stuff is the best. I love being someone’s mom. I do not feel like I have no identity, I adore being called someone’s mom. All of my kids are awesome, of course. LOL. I am the greatest fan my kids will ever have, and I am so lucky to have such gifted off-spring. I love all the glitter and cheer hair,too! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
    Love SMD’s momma

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I love being my daughter’s mom. At this point, I don’t know how to exist NOT being her mom and as such, it’s my job to support her no matter how much I think what she wants to do is nuts. You are a great example of unconditionally supporting your kids. You could give lessons!

      Also, I love that you call your kids “your chickens”. It’s so adorable and sweet.

      Reply
  10. Nats ~ coraltintedperceptions

    Good for you supporting her even if it isn’t what you would have chosen for yourself, btw, cheer hair?! lmao!
    Nats ~ coraltintedperceptions recently posted…I Can’t Be Defined {Link Up #13}My Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      I did not know that cheer hair was a real thing until last year. But it is. And it is ridiculous. Curls and bows and hairspray and no bobby pins but no flyaways and it’s all just crazy.

      Reply
  11. shelly

    I dont have kids but I can guarantee I would struggle if my hypothetical daughter said she wanted to be a cheerleader. Eye rolls and such. But at the compeitive level, cheerleaders truly are athletes, impressive ones at that. It seems like its just another form of gymnastics, but with mandatory group yelling. love your writing!
    shelly recently posted…Confession: With age comes wisdom and conversely, declining mental facultiesMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thank you!

      It was difficult to say yes. But she really did not want to do anything else so we just went for it. I’m glad we did because it makes her happy but it’s sometimes hard to hide the eye rolls.

      Reply
  12. Jenn @ Business, Life & Design

    I had a lot of prejudices and negative associations with cheerleaders back in high school, and even now, as an adult, I can imagine it’d be difficult to just forget that instantly, even knowing they’re unfair and illogical. Good on you for supporting your daughter’s interests!
    Jenn @ Business, Life & Design recently posted…The Forces that Shape Us – Giving Credit Where Credit is DueMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Stereotypes exist for a reason and some of them really are true. I think cheering is getting a bit more respect than when I was in high school because it’s actually seen as a sport now. Which is good.

      Reply
  13. Jenniemarie @ Another Housewife

    The gym my daughter takes gymnastics at is also home to a very competitive cheer squad who happen to do conditioning the same day and time my daughter has class. My other kids and I sit in awe. Cheerleading is no joke! Those girls work hard. And their routines!? Holy cow batman I am amazed at their talent.

    I never thought I would by a Gymnastics mom but there I sit every week and watch my daughter shine. She is so in her element it is scary. So yeah, we wear the shirt and learn all about the things we snickered about growing up because we are moms and that’s what moms do!!!
    Jenniemarie @ Another Housewife recently posted…It Is Well With My SoulMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Not going to lie…I still snicker at some of the more asinine things and I genuinely cannot practice her cheers with her because I feel ridiculous. But I do all kinds of stuff that I mocked and you’re right…cheerleading is no joke. What those girls can do is insane.

      Reply
  14. Liz @ Fitness Blondie

    Man does this bring back memories for me. I was a cheerleader all throughout high school and my mom felt the same way. I was always about track and volleyball. I could still do track, but not volleyball. Eventually my mom kinda-sorta got into it, but not like you. I love how you have opened yourself up and it makes me wish Pintrest was around when I was younger because I am sure there are a lot of fun crafts to do. And you’re right about the conditioning. I was a base and backspot, so I was constantly lifting girls in the air. We always had to run before practice and do push up’s and other exercises, memorize dance routines, and cheers. There’s a lot of work that people don’t realize. Oh and I too had to have ALL things cheer – a notebook that read “cheer” shirts from “Limited Too” that said “Cheer girl”. Ha ha. So many memories. Love this post!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      My daughter is a base and a backspot and I wonder how much more conditioning she’s going to need to do as she gets older. She’s 7 1/2 and is already complaining about planks so we’ll see what happens.

      I’d so much rather be the parent of a base than a flyer. My nerves couldn’t take it.

      She has to have ALL THE CHEER THINGS!!! Except she will not wear a bow unless she has to. She says it gets annoying.

      Reply
  15. Amanda

    Hahahah… dying over the hairspray comment! I used to be so jealous when girls would come to school with their “cheer hair”!!!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Cheer hair is pretty much the worst thing ever and I don’t know who hates it more, me or my daughter. It does look pretty, though.

      Reply
  16. Em

    You can BUY cheer hair?? Whhhaaat??? I don’t have kids just yet, but I think I’d have a tough time dealing with the other moms in those activities lol.

    Reply
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  19. Sarah

    I applaud your efforts, and your enthusiasm. I have found myself in a similar place this year. Only my attempt has not turned out nearly as well. I have 3 girls. The league I signed them up with apparently took my money and didn’t have any coaches. So they took my “volunteer application” and made me a coach. Of 10 middle school cheerleaders. I have ALWAYS HATED the very idea of cheerleading. So when the head coordinator decided to pick on my every mistake, push every button I had, and give me absolutely NO help at all figuring out how to do this job that I never agreed to and don’t know how to do, I may have sorta snapped and showed my a** midseason. Now I am just waiting for it to be over and sincerely hoping that my kids don’t want to do it again next year. I tried. I hate it more than ever.

    Reply

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