On Sunday, my oldest daughter played soccer against an all-boys team (again! In the two years that she has been on this travel team, she and the other two girls on her team have been the only girls on the field…100% of the time). Toward the end of the game, an opposing kid tapped the ball to start the play and without hesitation, she burst forward, took the ball off of him, and dribbled down the field, as though she were Alex Morgan and this were the World Cup or whatever.
She took that ball and dribbled down the field and suddenly it was her versus one other kid, he couldn’t get the ball so he did the next best thing, sticking his foot in her path and pushing her ever so slightly, sending her flying. Flying! Full on sprint to face plant in less than a second, and she popped right up, ready for more.
My oldest daughter. The little girl who, at 9 years old, still cries in the night for her mama (and would still be sleeping by my side if I hadn’t forced her (for real, fooooorced her) out of my bed when she hit fourth grade). The little girl who cries and cries if she gets a paper cut, whose idea of for-real torture is probably something akin to a bee sting or maybe a flu shot. My sweet and smart and sensitive kid, thoughtful and anxious and did I mention sensitive?
I see a lot of people in the FI movement talking about kids and what it’s worth spending money on and “we should stop worshipping at the altar of busy-ness” and “one sport per season” and “they won’t remember gymnastics but they’ll definitely be glad you set them up for not taking care of you in retirement” and I get it, I do. And…we could REALLY use that extra money that we are dropping on lessons A and B and C and D. But I also get this: there are things that Sonya (and Viv, and Amelia) learn on the soccer field and gymnastics mats that I could never, never in a million years, teach them. I’m not about to stick my foot out as Sonya sprints by me, not even a little bit, and if I did? She would lie crumpled in fetal position, what the hell?
I could never ever teach my kids to jump up after somebody has knocked them over, to grin as you head out for that penalty kick, to chest bump your friend because you girls kept those boys away from the goal again, to run and run and run and then get knocked down and run some more.
I’m not going to hit FI when I’m 40 (too late!). I’m not going to hit it when I’m 45, or 50, and my real goal here is just not to be destitute when I’m 65. I could make sacrifices, on behalf of myself and more realistically my kids, that would get me there. But I’m not going to.
These sports fees and music fees and everything I grumble about every time I have to hand over the check – every last penny. Worth it.