I missed my son’s baseball game today. It wasn’t the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last. Sometimes I’ve missed a game because my other child has an activity at the same time so my husband and I divide and conquer. Other times it’s because of a work commitment or a volunteer meeting. And sometimes it’s because I have dinner plans with friends.

I don’t like missing games and school activities. I want to be there for everything, but it just isn’t possible. And feeling guilty about it does no one any good. We are parents, not superheroes. We cannot be in multiple places at the same time. We cannot do all things or be all things. 

Related: I complain a lot about youth sports but I’m going to miss them 

The renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel shared on the Motherly podcast that when her kids were little, she didn’t go to Saturday morning games. Instead, she spent Saturday mornings doing something for herself.

“I didn’t feel guilty about it,” Perel said. “I felt this doesn’t work well for me. If I come back after two hours, and you had a great game and I had a great whatever I was doing, and we chat about it together and then we spend the afternoon, we had a good time.” 

Rather than going to every game simply because that’s what others were doing, she was more intentional about the way she spent her time. For instance, she took each child on an annual trip alone, which became “foundational in creating a deep connection.”

As parents, we have a million demands on our time and attention. We have to prioritize and make tough choices. So my advice to other parents who are in the thick of it, running themselves ragged trying to make it to all the things, is this: get real clear on your why

Why are you going to this event? Is it because your child truly needs or wants you there? Is it because you enjoy watching your child play? Or is it because you feel like going to every game and concert is something you “should” do?

What matters is whether they are doing something they enjoy, whether they feel like they are part of a team. And those things can happen whether we are physically present or not. 

Over the past decade or so, I’ve spent a lot of time watching my kids play sports. And I do mean, a lot. What I’ve realized lately is that I will truly miss these days. I will miss watching them figure out how to throw a curve ball. I will miss watching their face light up with them make a basket they didn’t expect to make. I will miss watching them high-five their teammates. There is something magical about watching your kids do something they love.

When it comes to youth sports, I think we could all benefit from taking a deep breath and calming down a bit. The reality is that most of our kids won’t be professional athletes. They won’t get an athletic scholarship, and many of them won’t play in high school. 

The real value of youth sports isn’t whether it will “pay off.” What matters is whether they are doing something they enjoy, whether they feel like they are part of a team. And those things can happen whether we are physically present or not. 

Related: 5 ways to make peace with mom guilt and actually prioritize your self-care 

We can cheer our kids on from afar. We can remind them that we are rooting for them even though we can’t be at the game. We can ask them to tell us about the game afterwards. Our partner, another parent, or a grandparent can be their cheering section in our absence. We can ask a family member or friend to take a few photos or a video. And we can focus less on what we're missing or what our child is missing, and focus more on what we're gaining.

Our children will learn that even though they are the center of our world, they aren’t the center of the world. They will learn to rely on other adults for direction and protection. They will learn that parents have needs of their own. They will learn to play for the love of the game, not for the approval of someone else. And we gain some much-needed time and a little freedom from the oppressive and needless guilt we so often feel.

If you can’t be at every one of your kid's sport games, concerts or school events—and no one can—cut yourself some slack. It will be okay. Your child knows you are rooting for them.