Monday, November 1, 2010

Go, Mama, Go!

By Austen Murrow

Football, gymnastics, basketball, dance, swimming: how many mothers can actually take their children to so many activities, one after the other? The sporty mamas we talked with somehow manage to fit everything in—and enjoy themselves along the way.

Loving it

Dana Barhoush is the mother of three active children; Raad (10) Jenna (8) and Adam (7). Although she works on projects here and there, her primary occupation is ‘dedicated mother’. Dana takes each of her children to basketball twice a week, sometimes waiting for all three to practise in a row, which takes up to three hours. She always stays to watch her young ones play because she enjoys watching them progress. “I remember when my son, Raad, was in KG playing sports,” she reminisces. “It has been eight years now and I have loved watching him improve his skills.” On top of basketball, her children practise boxing at home with their father and also go horseback riding. “It was my idea to get them into sports, starting with Raad, our eldest,” she explains. “I really had to push him to get where he is today.” Dana’s support clearly paid off, as both Raad and his younger siblings love sports now.

The only hectic part for this mother is trying to get everyone out of the house on time, especially on days when she knows she will be gone for three hours straight. Her first priority is making sure homework is done before sports practice so that when they all get back home, they can relax. And what about lunch and dinner? “When my children were younger, I brought sandwiches for the child who was not playing,” she explains, “so when we got home, everyone had been fed.” Since her children are getting older and are now practising until eight on some nights, Dana makes sure the two younger ones eat before going to the gym. “I am thankful that my husband is at home at night to help out while I watch whoever is still practising.”

Dana is very fond of watching her children do what they love. “I think I will miss it when they’re older—when they don’t want me to take them. I’ll give up my time now to be here while they still need me,” concludes the soft-spoken mama.

No other way

Dana Khazendar, full-time mother of Zeena (9) and Yezen (7), spends six days a week—approximately two hours a day—at her children’s sports activities. “Each sport is unique and I like to watch them all,” Dana explains. In addition to dance, both children participate in football and basketball and take guitar lessons. “When the children were younger, it was my idea to encourage them to play sports,” explains the relaxed mama. Her husband supported the idea too. “Even though I needed to really push them at first,” she remembers, “they now love it and cannot imagine their life without sports.”

Why is she so supportive? Dana knows that encouraging her children is a great way to make sure, as she says, that “they are doing something useful with their time” and hopes it will be a productive outlet for them in their teenage years. Dana is a role model too, as she herself does Pilates.

And just how does this organized mother keep track of all the activities? With a calendar that shows her exactly what she needs to do each day and which activities her children have. This way, she is prepared. “I make sure I carry the right amount of food with me,” she explains, “so that Zeena and Yezen can eat after school or between practices.” Although she admits to being stressed out from the full schedule on some days, this lucky mama is often able to socialize with friends who are also watching their children. Her advice for other mothers? “Just enjoy it; it’s fun for the kids.”

A time for everything

Aydah Tubeileh Odeh manages multiple activities for her four children: Aetedal (12), Hussein (11), Hassan (5) and Hamzah (3). Though she recently completed her PhD in Educational Administration, she still managed to support her children, who participate in volleyball, football, basketball and swimming. While chatting with Aydah at her son’s football practice, she tells us: “I have to stay because they feel comfortable and happy when I am here watching.” Aydah loves to watch her children play basketball, as she used to play it herself when she was at school. It was a collective family decision to be involved in sports,. “I knew I should push them to participate because sports are important for their physical and emotional health.” As a mother, she sets an example by partaking in swimming and Ping-Pong herself.

Aydah ensures that the activities are fun and stress-free for her and her children by keeping everyone on track. “There is a time for everything,” she stresses, “a time for lunch, a time for television and a time for sports”. Her advice to mothers who feel overwhelmed? “You can find the time for everything if you manage your time properly.”

Unlimited support

Sameera Al Khuffash is mama to three girls: Tala (11) Sara (8) and Maya (3.5). She supports them daily as they practise gymnastics at both a local gym and their school. On Saturdays, Sameera accompanies her girls to dance class, always staying to watch because she thinks that their dancing is beautiful.

This chic mama attends all of her daughters’ competitions and performances. She loves to see them succeed in what they are doing and it makes her proud that they have already won medals at such a young age. “It was the girls’ idea to do gymnastics,” Sameera beams, “and I love that.” She herself participated in ballet when she was younger, so she knows how important it is to keep fit.

“It’s great watching them at gymnastics; it gives them flexibility and beautiful strong bodies,” she explains, smiling from ear to ear. “I’m proud of them,” she states. Does Sameera have any regrets? Not having her girls start gymnastics early enough—they began just three years ago. She is determined that her youngest, Maya, will start as early as possible: at the young age of four.

How does this mama feel about the time commitment? “It’s hard sometimes; I don’t have a lot of time between school, studying and gymnastics,” she admits, “but I’m happy; it’s no problem for me.” Glancing at her daughters, she says: “I will support them in everything they like to do if it’s good for them.” When asked if her support will continue into their teenage years, she answers without hesitation: “Of course!”

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