I’m just going to be straight up honest and tell you that today’s article has nothing to do with fitness and health. Well, maybe a tiny bit, but that’s stretching it. Fitness is my occupation, but it doesn’t consume my life. My kids, on the other hand, do. That’s not a bad thing. I like it like that. When my kids are happy and at peace, I’m happy and at peace. When my kids are hurting, Mama hurts.

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I’ve told my son that no matter how hard this bench-warming season is, God has a lesson for him and is refining him through this process.

We are a sports family. This school year has been a whole new world for us in the realm of sports. We have three kids, and they all love sports. Not just a little. They love them. Our oldest two (one has recently graduated college and the other is in college) were standouts in their sports. The accolades were many. The wins were abundant. Between those two, we went to State in three different sports a total of five times. Man, it was fun. It was stressful, too. Not everybody likes you or your child if your child is a star in his or her sport. Even with that kind of junk, it was just an overall blast. That was then. Life is different now. Our third child is a freshman in high school, and we are experiencing a whole new existence. We are bench-warmer parents.

Being a bench-warmer parent isn’t for the faint of heart. It is a tough place to be. It doesn’t bother me personally. It’s not about ego or pride for me. The tough part is watching a young boy agonize on the bench while his best buds are on the court. It’s hard seeing him sit there, sometimes an entire game without ever going in, in his cool basketball shoes that he carefully, excitedly selected before the season. My heart aches watching him sit dejected and losing confidence each game. It might not be so bad if he didn’t love the game of basketball so much, if he was a kid just grateful to be on the team. That’s not my child though. He longs to play and that’s what is so tough.

I’m not a delusional parent who thinks her kid is better than he is and should be playing a lot. He is small and hasn’t matured yet. He has a long way to go to be close to the top players on his very talented team. I’m realistic about his talent level. While we are happy and excited for the success of the team and those who constantly play, it’s tough.

[pullquote]”I’ve told him that no matter how hard this bench-warming season is, God has a lesson for him and is refining him through this process. He is refining me, too.”[/pullquote]

I have learned a whole new appreciation for parents who go to game after game only to see their child play a minute or two if any. I feel remorse that I never understood their struggle in the past when my kid was one who never came off the court. I wish I had been more appreciative of what those parents were going through; how difficult it must’ve been to come up with encouraging words after games. I wish I had thought more about how their kid’s hearts must have been hurting. I get it now.

I’ve told my son that next year should be better. Don’t give up. I’ve told him that no matter how hard this bench-warming season is, God has a lesson for him and is refining him through this process. He is refining me, too.