On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! How I Learned to be a “Meet” Mom

With Memorial Day behind us, summer is on the brain.  But for us sports moms, we first have to get through the last week or so of spring sports.

My friend, George, gave me a piece of advice when my oldest was born.  It went something like this:  Don’t let your kids play a sport where the competition is called a meet instead of a game.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now, nearly 12 years later, I understand.

Both my boys started playing organized sports around age 3.  I use the term “organized sports” loosely because at that age, it’s more like organized chaos with post-game snacks.  My youngest likes to shadow his older brother, so both boys started their youth sports careers with soccer, tee ball and basketball.  Soccer lasted only two seasons for each of them before they discovered football and tee ball progressed to kid-pitch baseball, but was ultimately replaced by lacrosse.  We are, and have been, a football/basketball/lacrosse household since 2009.  I’m good with this because each of these sports is physical, fast-paced and fun.  And more importantly, at least according to my wise elder, George, each uses a game clock.

For a parent, the game clock is your best friend.   You know exactly what you’re getting into and can plan accordingly.  Thirty minutes for pre-game warm ups followed by an hour, maybe two, of competition and then … Game over.  Done.  Finished.  On to the next thing.  What’s better than that?  I have become spoiled by the game clock.  Even dependent on it … Until this past March when both my boys decided to add track and field to their spring sports repertoire.  You see, track and field competitions — like swimming and gymnastics — are called meets, not games.  George warned me about this and now I know why:

  • It’s an all day affair.  Track meets can last anywhere from 4-to-6 hours, depending on the number of teams and competitors entered as well as how fast or slow the kids run.  Oy!
  • You must be prepared to sit and wait.  I don’t sit much during the day.  I don’t like to be idle and I’m rather impatient.  This trifecta of personality traits makes track meets problematic for someone like me.
  • You need to pay attention.  You may be there for 4+ hours, but your own kid will race for as little as 15 seconds.  Yes, I said SECONDS (depending on the event), so don’t blink or you’ll miss it.  Oh, and if your kid participates in any of the field events, be sure to pay extra attention.  Those are easy to miss.  I know because I did the first two meets.  Yep, Mom of the Year right here.
  • Two words: porta potty.  Okay, that may actually be one hyphenated word (porta-potty), but you know what I’m talking about.  Word to the wise:  Bring tissues and hand sanitizer … Or hold it in.

Unlike raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, idle waiting and peeing in a stinky, blue box are a few of my least favorite things.  But I love my boys, so I grin and bear it.  Okay, I bitch and moan (only a little, I swear!), but I go because they really enjoy it.  They’ve made new friends and stepped outside of their comfort zones.  They’ve pushed themselves to compete in a way that is unlike what they are used to with football, basketball and lacrosse.  Plus, they’re good at it and truth be told, I’m proud of them.  It’s rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and the pride in their eyes when they set new personal records each week.

My track stars

My track stars

What makes track and field, and really any sport that is performed at a “meet,” unique is that it is both a team sport and an individual one simultaneously.  Competition and camaraderie, independence and teamwork, personal goals and team effort are all happening at the same time.  It’s both social and competitive — the perfect combination for my boys.


Camaraderie and competition at the 2015 historical Penn Relays

So despite a couple of porta potty mishaps and many seemingly unproductive hours spent sitting uncomfortably on steel bleachers, I have made peace with my new role as a “meet mom” for the good of the kids.  Nothing a little pre-event planning, a packed cooler and a seat cushion can’t improve.  Besides, with only one more meet to go, the Philadelphia CYO Championship, I can see the finish line.




Spring Breakup?

Spring used to be my favorite season.  The days are longer, warmer and sunnier.  Farmers markets are open again.  Sweaters replace coats and I get to wear jeans with tank tops and flip flops.  Life is good.


But this spring has been rough.  Frigid snow in March, cold rain in April, the “pollen tsunami” in May … Mother Nature can be one moody bitch (it takes one to know one).  So much so that I may have to reevaluate my love of this season.  Here are six reasons why I may break up with spring …

  • Fickle weather:  It’s hot.  It’s cold.  It’s raining.  It’s snowing!  Do I put away the winter coats or not?  Should I wear my rain boots or sandals?  Do I really need a blanket for the morning game, but sunscreen for the afternoon one?  For a “just in case” planner like me, these weather mood swings are both stressful and annoying.
  • Pollen:  Spring = allergy season and during this time of year, the Tarr family single-handedly keeps both Kleenex and Claritin in business.  Maybe I should buy stock to reap the benefits.
  • Gardening:  I like to think that I “garden,” but really all I do is pull weeds.  Lots of them.  Every week.  It sucks.
  • Crazy spring sports schedules:  In our house, March Madness is followed by April Anarchy and May Mayhem.  Thank goodness for carpools!
  • School event overload:  ‘Tis the season for field trips, music concerts, book fairs, science fairs, field days and class parties.  How am I supposed to get anything done when I’m in school as much as the kids?
  • Nosy neighbors:  Okay, this isn’t really their fault.  Open window season means my swearing and yelling is now audible to the neighbors.  I need to get that under control … Or close the windows.

So do my watery, itchy eyes and embarrassing window moments outweigh my love of farmers markets and flip flops?  Am I really ready to give up on spring?  Today is a beautiful, sunny spring day and it reminds of why I love this season.  No, I’m not ready to break up with spring just yet … Until I walk out the door on my way to the elementary school concert and start sneezing again as I spy all the weeds in the walkway that popped up overnight.  S***!  Maybe I should reconsider.

Happy Spring!



A Mother’s Day Poem, Inspired by L.L. Cool J

To all my mom readers, Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether you were pampered by your kids with breakfast in bed this morning or left alone to enjoy a day at the spa, I hope you were treated like a queen.  Mothering is tough and even thankless at times, but it is also the most rewarding job in the world.  Today is our day … Enjoy it!  In lieu of a Facebook shout out, I wrote my very own Mother’s Day rap.  Deejay, gimme a beat …

Around the Way on Mother’s Day

written by Lauren Dewey Tarr, to the tune of L.L. Cool J’s  “Around the Way Girl

I want a day with a few extra hours,

sunshine, smiles and some pretty flowers.

Loving children with no attitude,

that’s all I need to get me in a good mood.

No laundry, no clean-up, no yelling today,

just a helpful family who does it my way.

Standing in the kitchen, listening without bitching,

are these really my kids or did someone do some switching?

Playing together on their best behavior,

while my husband lets me nap – now he’s my savior.

They’re following directions, doing exactly as I say,

let’s hear it for the boys, they’re gonna make my day!

I want a calm and happy day,

no fanfare or cheer.

I need a happy Mother’s Day,

just one day a year.

Okay, so maybe L.L. Cool J won’t be calling me to collaborate on his next song any time soon, but my kids enjoyed it.  At least I like to think they did.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day, 2015

Mother’s Day love, 2015