I didn't want to let my daughter play football—but I was so wrong

It was scary, but we made the right decision. Our kid will move mountains.

I didn't want to let my daughter play football—but I was so wrong

"Mom, can I play football?" That was the question she asked for the third year in a row.

"No," was on the tip of my tongue, for the third year in a row. But the look in her eyes was different this year. Before I could reply, she started speaking.

"Mom, please listen. Just listen before you answer," she said. "I need you to let me do this. I NEED to try and see if I can do it, and I don't know if I'll have another chance. I don't want to look back and wish I would have tried. Please, mom. Let me." She was 11 years old when she said that.

As a mother, you try to teach your children to be strong, to stand up for themselves. You teach them that they are smart, capable and that they can be anything they want to be. You teach them to be leaders, to not worry about going along with the crowd or doing things they don't like, just because their friends do.

Here she was knowing exactly who she was and what she wanted at 11 years old. She had not a care in the world what her friends would say, or what the other boys or coaches might say about a girl joining the team. She had goals and was going after them. As her parents, how could we possibly say no?

Believe me, we wanted to say no. We spent days justifying no. Because, while we worry about teaching them all the right things, we also worry relentlessly about them getting hurt. Football is a physical game, one with huge potential for serious injuries like concussions, broken bones, and damage to growing bodies and brains. Our daughter is an average-sized girl, could she defend herself against boys her size and bigger?

What about the potential for emotional damage? Would her teammates and coaches accept her? One of her best friends, a boy who plays football and would be her teammate told her, "We're friends, but I don't want you on my team." The mother of a good friend told me she hoped my daughter would "get this football nonsense out of her system."

What about other teams? Would the boys taunt her? Would they say awful things to her, or vulgar things to try to scare her? Would they make her a target and deliberately try to harm her to teach her a lesson that girls don't play football?

We didn't know what the right answer was then, but ultimately we decided that if she was brave enough to try, we would be brave enough to let her. We sat her down and had a very honest conversation about what might happen, and how she might be treated by everyone else. Two weeks later, she signed up for Pop Warner football and I dreaded every minute until the season started the following August.

On the first day of practice, none of her teammates spoke to her. Not one. That hurt, as she is good friends with several of them off the field. But no one wanted to be the first one to acknowledge her. It took days, but then something shifted—they figured out she could play. And she was good. Really good. Turns out, football is her thing.

She danced for 10 years, and the conditioning and stamina she gained from dance translated to endurance and agility on the field. Not only could she keep up, but she also started beating them in drills. The boys stopped seeing her as a girl; they started seeing her as a teammate and started to respect her as one, too. The coaches have been amazing since day one, and have treated her just like any other player. They embraced her and gave her the opportunity to learn and prove herself. We hope they know how much we appreciated that and how much that contributed to the team accepting her.

Everyone else started noticing also. So many teachers, classmates, friends and family have come to games or stopped to tell her how proud they are of her having the courage to follow her heart. I can't tell you how many mothers have told me that their daughters want to play, too. Parents of her teammates are supportive, and they tell her so. We are so proud to be a part of a city that has been so amazing and supportive.

But not everyone has been so accepting. Boys from other teams have openly laughed at her. Thankfully, this doesn't happen at every game. Emotionally, she is handling that well. Physically, well, she gets hit. Hard. But guess what? She hits back hard, too! She's not afraid to get in there and battle every play. She leaves that field black and blue some days and she loves every minute of it.

We don't know how long her football career will last. The boys will keep growing, and she likely won't grow much taller than her 5 foot 3 inches. But she will play until they drag her off that field.

As parents, we have learned that our decisions and the decisions that are right for our family aren't necessarily what's popular among friends, family or neighbors. But maybe all it takes is one person to step out of the "lines" to create a new normal.

It was scary, but we made the right decision. Our kid will move mountains.

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We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

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A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

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