Photo credit: Phil Scoville

The first thing I do when I get to my job each morning, after logging in to e-mail, is log in to each of my journals’ Twitter accounts. Then I sign into their Facebook pages. And then I read my Google Alerts and any interesting stories I can discuss through these social media outlets.

Let me back up a sec. I’m the Managing Editor of a health care journal about sports health care. I work on another journal as well, but the sports health care one is my baby. I’ve been working on it since its launch, and I enjoy reading articles about athletes, athletic training, sports injuries, and so on. The social media aspect of my job is the part I currently consider the most exciting–perhaps because it is the newest task I’ve had to tackle, but possibly also because as an editor, I tend to spend my days working quietly hunched over a manuscript or at the computer, barely interacting with anyone. Social media is a nice break from that. And because I am someone who loves to learn, I enjoy expanding my knowledge about the topics on which I work.

As I was saying, in order to have things to tweet or post on Facebook, I read a ton of articles and blog posts about sports. Because my journal is about athletic training, many of those articles and blogs are about concussion, heat stroke, and other sports injuries.

As a tweeting editor, those articles excite me. I appreciate the increased awareness (which I feel I am helping contribute to) about these important issues.

As a mother, they terrify me.

My son is going to be 3 this summer. In another year or so, he may ask me if he can play sports. He might start out with teeball, and I’m partly looking forward to sitting in the stands on a sunny Saturday, cheering him on. But I’m also partly a ball of nerves. Sports injuries can be serious. Fatal, even. They can happen to anyone, anytime, even the most careful player of the gentlest sport. The other day, I read about a child who died suddenly on a baseball field after being hit in the carotid artery (in the neck) with a thrown ball.

See? Scary.

Accidents and injuries are a part of life that we can do our best to prevent, but we cannot control who they happen to or if they happen at all. It is impossible to prevent them entirely.

And part of motherhood–a huge part–is learning to let our children grow and explore the world, despite our wanting to hold them close to us and wrap them up in our protective arms. It is trusting that they will be ok, even when you are anxious about something happening to them. It is about not passing along our anxieties to our children.

I have helicopter mom tendencies, I admit it. When Jax and I are at the park, as we are at least once or twice per week, I try to hang back and let him explore the slides and other playground features. It’s like exposure therapy for me! I sometimes find myself sitting on a bench watching him like a mother hawk, telling myself that even if he falls, he will be ok. Other times, my nervousness bests me and I’m next to him, guiding him along or holding his little hand.

There will be falls and scraped knees; I know and accept this. These things are an inevitable event in childhood, just as heartbreak is inevitable in adolescence. I will patch up many a bloody knee or lip, and we will be ok. Jax will climb back on the monkey bars and try again, I hope.

That is what I want to teach my son. To try again. And again.

I do not want him to be too timid, afraid, or anxious to try new, scary things. As afraid as I am (because I understand and face the dangers of sports daily), I will be there in the bleachers cheering–with a first aid kit in my purse, no doubt.

Are you anxious about your child playing sports, or about any future adventures they may have? How do you calm your anxieties?


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  1. I worked in a Children’s ER so I’ve seen the results of sports injuries. EEEKS.
    But those are a dime a dozen.
    You kind of have to cut off those “what if” sentences. We can’t keep our children cut off from doing things ya know?
    My son is rough and tumble so I’m sure that he’ll get into trouble when he starts to play sports. Don’t worry. I’ve stocked up on bandaids.

  2. I get this fear as well. I try not to have helicopter tendencies. My oldest plays soccer, & she will be starting tball this summer. What keeps my anxiety at bay is that we have a wonderful orthopedic doctor that treated my oldest’s hip dysphasia. If one of the girls hurts themselves, I will take then to him or have him refer me to a colleague. I just take deep breaths & remind myself that I got knocked down a lot playing sports. It’s a part of the game.
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  3. My daughter has no fear. At all. And sometimes I’m like “Ummm, you’re 1. Maybe you shouldn’t go down the TALLEST SLIDE IN THE PLAYGROUND.” But to be honest, I don’t get that anxious about her getting hurt. Maybe I should get a little more anxious, lol. The things I worry about? That she’ll get her heart broken, that she’ll be bullied, or worse that she’ll be *mean*? Are things I can’t do much about.
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  4. Sports injuries do make me a little bit nervous – Enough that I think I would find your job difficult! My husband played a few sports and I’m sure Sebastian will as well. Not just because he’s a boy, but because he is very physical and obsessed with balls already!

    With all of your research, though, you must realize that serious/fatal experiences are rare. I probably shouldn’t tell you this but a kid in my brother’s grade school class died during gym class, in front of my bro and the whole class, from an enlarged heart. (I can’t believe they don’t shell out and do more tests for that! Although this wasn’t even after-school sports, it was just GYM.) Sometimes you have to realize that scary stuff is EVERYWHERE, and that forces you to relax in the seemingly more dangerous situations.

    Seb will probably skateboard like his dad. Have you ever seen skateboard injuries?? Everything they do is on freaking concrete, sometimes up very high!! That’s a lot scarier to this mom than a grassy soccer field or even a smooth gym floor.
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