Rachel Higginson kids

Rachel Higginson's five children. 

A friend and I were chatting the other day about how busy we are with all our kids’ things — their sports, programs and play dates. My friend shared that her own parents had gone to everything she’d ever been in — every game, every play, every concert. Today, that is her goal as a parent — to attend every single kid event from preschool Christmas programs to high school graduation and beyond.

I listened attentively and smiled as she went on about how character-building that was for her, how it fed her self-esteem and grew her confidence. And while I genuinely hope she’s able to do the same for her own wonderful children, I also had to realize I’ve already failed my own.

With five kids — four of whom are school-age and involved in every single thing — it’s impossible for my husband and I to get to all of their various events. Usually, we divide and conquer out of necessity. We split up the kids and both make a good showing at whatever activities were double booked. But there have been times where more than two kids have places to be. Sometimes, helping them meet their countless schedule demands means finding them a carpool and wishing them good luck as we wave goodbye.

During basketball season last year, we had four kids in two different leagues playing at four different times. It was impossible for the both of us to make it to every game. And several times throughout the season, neither of us could make it.

This fall’s volleyball season was the same way. As the middle school coach, I was obligated to be at all the middle school games, and there were times my husband could not take my other daughter because of activities scheduled for my younger boys. Thankfully, we are good friends with her coach and live close by. Scarlett had a ride for several of her games and practices, but they were not from her parents.

I heard my cousin once tell a story about how my aunt never drove her anywhere. She was expected to ride her bike to practice and games — and even attend the parent meetings since she was ultimately in charge of herself. My cousin is proud of what she accomplished and credits her mom for helping her build independence and grit.

I’m sure there is a lot of research out there supporting parents who are able to make it to all the things, but I’m also sure there are a lot of parents with big families just struggling to make sure their kid makes it to their own events. And while my children would love to have parent support in whatever they do, they’ve also matured enough to not need it. They know we’re proud of them no matter what they do and that we support them in all their endeavors — even if we can’t always be there.

I see my children becoming more and more independent and self-reliant. Those are skills I’m excited to foster. Those are necessary tools for successful adulthood.

My point is, I don’t think there’s a wrong or right way to go about this. Make it to as much as you can, but give yourself grace for those rare days when you have to text another mom for carpool options. Of course, we all want to be super mom, but sometimes logistics get in the way. Just make sure your kids know you’re their number one fan no matter what!

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Rachel Higginson is a married mom to five kids. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. She lives in Omaha.

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