When your kid wants to quit…

It’s taken me a little while to write this post. Not because I’ve been busy (don’t get me wrong, I’m constantly busy). But because I needed time to process. Oh crap, I sound like I’ve been in therapy about this. Nope. I’ve just watched enough reality TV that I often use words like process and love language and self-healing. Who needs expensive therapy when you can watch other people’s shitshows on TV and learn from them?! Okay, fine, me, I probably need therapy. But remember, I’m constantly busy. 

Anyways, I digress. So I have some big news. And I know what you’re probably gonna say when you hear it. Things like “Awwww” and “That’s so sad!!” and “But she was so good at it.”

And here’s the thing. If I wrote this post four weeks ago when it happened, I would have agreed with you. But with a little perspective and a lot of wine, I’m not saying those things at all.

Deep breath. Okay, here goes.

Zoey quit ice skating.

Am I right? Did you say one of those things I said you’d say? If you did, I totally get it.

When she told me she wanted to stop, I was a little devastated. I mean some moms are crazy devastated when these things happen because they live vicariously through their children or because their whole social life is wrapped up in the sport, but for me it was for other reasons.  

Here are a few things Zoey has said about ice skating in the past:

“The ice rink is my happy place.”

“It’s the only thing I like to do.”

“Ice skating is like air to me. I need it to survive.”

I mean look how happy it made her. 

So when Zoey told us she wanted to quit skating, I sat there thinking she’s making a huge mistake. She’s giving up her happy place. So we asked her if she was sure? Like totally positive? Like are you 100% SURE this is the right choice and you’re not going to be really sad when the ice-skating recital happens and you’re not in it? But this wasn’t a snap decision. It was pretty well thought out.

She basically had three choices. If she wanted to continue skating, she’d have to do it more to master the harder skills. Or she could practice the same amount and never progress and constantly be frustrated. Or she could stop skating.

She knew which one she was picking.

And I had to trust her. She’s the one that spends all those hours on the ice, not me. 

So one by one, I reached out to the rink and the coaches and withdrew her from her lessons and classes and upcoming tryouts. And it was sad. Very very sad.

It was sad saying goodbye to her AMAZING coaches that have put so much love and hard work into teaching her. It was sad not dropping her off at the rink anymore. It was sad not seeing videos of her land an axel or spinning so fast it looks like she’s going to drill a hole straight through the rink.

But it’s been four weeks now, and I can say there have been a lot of things that are NOT sad about her choice to quit. Like not waking her up at the crack of dawn to go to the rink before school and having her be miserable and cranky and yell at me. Or picking her up after school on the same day to go back to the rink again. Or seeing her freak out because she has soooo much homework but has skating class that evening. Or knowing we have to shell out $75 for each costume that will only get worn once. These are things I am NOT sad about.

Not to mention all the HAPPY things too. Like the fact that she’s not rushing all over the place anymore and her life has gone from a total rat race to a calm, relaxing schedule. So calm she has time to do other stuff now.

ME: Zoey, what are you going to do with all this free time? Besides Tiktok and Snapchat.

Do you know what she said?

ZOEY: I think I’d like to take a dance class.

What?!!!! She quit dance when she was four! But I was like, “Sure, a dance class sounds fun.” So I signed her up and she is LOVING it. And there’s like zero pressure. 

And I’ll tell you something else that makes her happy now.

About a week after she quit, I woke her up on Saturday morning and said it’s time to go to the rink. And she was like uhhh, nooo, I quit skating. And I was like nooooo, you quit classes and lessons. You signed up to skate with the kids who have special needs and you’re not quitting on your buddy Benjamin. And she understood. Even though she was worried it would be awkward, she agreed it was the right thing to do.

And when I picked her up afterward she got into the car with a huge smile. I asked her why, and she said two things. One, she said she ran into one of her old coaches and the coach mentioned possibly being a junior coach next year for the littles, and two, she had a great time skating with Benjamin. And that’s when something dawned on her.  

ZOEY: I’ve been skating for almost ten years.

ME: Yes you have.

ZOEY: I don’t have to give it up completely.

ME: Definitely not. You can just do the skating that makes you happy.

ZOEY: So it wasn’t a total waste.

ME: None of it was a waste, Zoey. You loved it for a long time. That’s not a waste at all.

All that money, all that time, all those early hours, and costumes, and falling and getting back up again, and schlepping to and from the rink, and learning routines, and winning trophies, and losing trophies, and making perfect high ponytails… NONE of it was a waste. Because it made her happy. And taught her so much. And those happy memories and life lessons will stay with her for the rest of her life.

Just because you quit something, that doesn’t mean time was wasted. It’s when you’re ready to quit but don’t that you start wasting your time.

Ice skating made Zoey happy.

And quitting ice skating made Zoey happy.

And if she’s happy, I’m happy. 

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There are 14 comments for this article
  1. christin harding at 7:35 pm

    gotta admit, I shed a few tears here. (it was very sweet to see the photos of her, like watching her grow up) I get it though-all of it. Congrats on what you’ve done, what you just did, and what your future is going to look like moving forward. Congrats to the entire family. It’s a very big adjustment…but a really good one.

  2. Life Seeking Truth & Other Wild Things at 7:37 pm

    My kid decided to quit… their birth gender.
    Sometimes supporting your kid as they discover who they are, and who they want to be, is the hardest thing in the world… but them being happy? That’s the goal.
    (And just to clarify- Not just “happy.” Able to *enjoy life.* At peace with themselves. Making good choices for themselves. Even if they’re choices that scare us or make us worry or that we’re not sure about. Not “I got to eat cake for supper and drink soda with breakfast happy.)
    I know you get it, but some people misunderstand, thinking I’m wrong to support my child. But they’re ***happy.*** And for me, that’s what ultimately matters.

    • BabySideburns at 10:06 pm

      You are a WONDERFUL parent to support your child through that. Much more difficult and complicated than ice skating, but it’s so true. We all just want our kids to be happy. We need to listen to what they need to make that happen. Clearly, you are listening to your kiddo.

  3. Christy Stavos Kutzera at 7:48 pm

    This came at exactly the right time! My daughter wants to quit dance, after 13 years. Hard to do, but a must if it’s not her happy place anymore. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Nicole at 8:00 pm

      My daughter quit ballet after 13 years, I went into mourning. She took six months off then decided to joking the high school dance team. She is now the captain in her senior year. I still miss the pointe shoes and tutus, but she doesn’t miss the body image pressure and peer comparison.

    • AAR at 11:13 pm

      Paid for a year (a year!!!!) of gymnastics waiting for my child to realize she was done. Through injury and new sports at school and four months she didn’t set foot in a gym on doctors orders. And I was still sad to withdraw her and close that chapter for our family. She misses it but it was her choice and the right one.

  4. Shauna at 7:49 pm

    This is just what I needed right now. Tomorrow will be my son’s last day of Cub Scouts and he has decided not to move onto Scouts BSA. I’ve been so sad about it(for selfish reasons) but he’s so busy with other extra curricular activities that he really needed to quit something. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Denise J at 9:17 pm

    My daughter took a step back from skating after COVID. The time off from the rink made her realize she didn’t want the pressure of competing. She is finishing all her moves in the field and free style tests. So she will test out if USFS and be able to coach if she chooses. She is loving track and being part of a school sport. They find their way but it is dang hard as the parents

  6. Lorraine at 12:15 am

    I am in the same boat with my kiddo and I find this post a refreshing way to look at a potential moment when he is ready to “quit” on something we’ve spend so much blood/sweat/tears on. I don’t know if I have the bravery to be able to take it the way you have, I might need some time to shrivel and cry that this part of his chapter is over. But I hope he looks back at that time with fond memories and great love for the experience.
    <3 – Brave, strong mama and daughter.

  7. Janine van Harsselaar at 1:53 am

    Thank you for this! It is so difficult when you put in all this money and energy. But you are so right, it made her happy. So it was good.

  8. shockofparenthood at 7:52 am

    Sometimes we have to let something go to get it back. Really focused kids can enjoy going deep into things. But at a time when they need to be exploring and expanding their world, too much focus on one thing can start to bind. When I stopped “serious” dancing was when I got the full joy of dancing back. And I carry that skill and joy with me even as a 58 y/o woman. Ice skating will continue to enrich her life in different ways over the years. And, having lots of things we care about and enjoy makes us stronger and supports us through hard times. The gift that you gave her in all that support and that she gave herself in all that focus, this is a life long gift.

  9. Kelsey Anderson at 10:46 pm

    I was Zoey! After 10 years of skating and competitions, I quit in middle school too. It was bittersweet, but I was DONE after all the crazy early mornings and no free time. Thankfully my parents never made me feel bad or pressured me to keep going. And do you know what? I absolutely cherish my skating past, and am SO incredibly thankful that my parents supported me for that many years. I know now how much they must have sacrificed to keep me going. Skating gave me confidence (it’s terrifying performing all alone!), joy, friendships, and taught me the value of working hard for something. I went on to participate in many other sports, including speedskating, and skating with my kids is one of my most favorite things to do now. It’s an activity Zoey will enjoy for decades to come, because she wasn’t forced to keep going when she was feeling burned out. Bravo mama!

  10. Andrea T at 4:30 pm

    Phew, I could have written this (but not nearly as well). My daughter just quit dance last month after 6 years. It was bittersweet for me as much as her. But reading this gave me such important peace and perspective.