When I was in high school and college I never played sports, but I was sports-adjacent. I was the manager of the varsity tennis team my senior year, I marched in the band, twirled with the flag corps, and in college spent all of my extra time singing in coffee houses and church services.
When I look back on my extracurricular life, I remember feeling grown up, but in reality, I was still little. I still needed ardent support and unflinching love. I needed parental enthusiasm, approval, and excitement. I craved engagement from adults. I wanted them to be with me, to see me, to watch me, and to cheer ridiculously for me, not because of what I was doing, but because I belonged to them.
I did not receive love in the way that I needed it at the time. Little Me remembers.
Little Me refers to the child inside of me who carries around a lot of the experiences from my early years, before I was fully formed and able to protect and advocate for myself. If we are willing to look deep enough, we all have a little one inside of us. My little one needs me in a lot of the same way my literal children need me.
With children involved in band and volleyball, choir and worship teams, I have set aside my sports apathy and brought my whole self into the game day experience. I obviously love and support my children, but part of my motivation to show up has a lot to do with Little Me.
On the other side of adulthood, equipped with tools and tactics for navigating not only my present challenges but also those from years ago, I know what that Little Me needs Adult Me to be a good game day mom. Little Me needs Adult Me to cheer and swoon, to show up and dress up, to clap and cry and take an embarrassing amount of photographs.
Love is a strange elixir. In giving it out, we also receive its benefits. And that is what happens when I wear red for the hogs, weep when I see my son on the field at halftime, cheer with all my might for my favorite trumpet player, root for the mighty middle school hornets, and listen adoringly when my children sing. I don't care about the performances. I care about my kids knowing their mom is with them, for them, president of their fan club, and shamelessly all in.
When Adult Me shows up for my own children in the role that I craved as a child, it reminds Little Me that I see her. And when Little Me is seen, she is healed and restored, one game day at a time.