Monday, November 4, 2013

In Defense Of (Some, But Not All) Soccer Moms

Soccer Mom on the field at dawn.
It's the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning when I'd rather be sleeping. My plan today was to roll out of bed at 8am, have coffee, go to church, and spend the day reading the paper while my husband takes the kids out to the park. Instead, I'm bundled up in sweats and my winter coat. I have a warm woolen hat pulled down over my ears and if I could curl up into the fetal position I would. Instead my hefty bottom is plunked down into a folding canvas chair while a blanket from the car is swaddled around me. I am at my town's soccer playoffs watching my son. I am a soccer mom.

Now the term “Soccer Mom” has a negative connotation. It broadly refers to an American middle-class, suburban woman who spends a lot of time transporting her school-age children to their sporting events or other after-school activities. Sometimes she's portrayed in the media as being a bit neurotic and overprotective of her brood as she drives her minivan or SUV all over Suburbia. And, according to Wikipedia, “soccer moms are sometimes accused of forcing their children to go to too many after- activities” and “over-parenting them in concerted cultivation rather than letting them enjoy their childhood.”

While I have no doubt that that last part about over-parenting is true in quite a few cases, I need to defend those of us mini-van driving parents who do schlep our kids all over the place. Most of my peers drive our kids to places the children themselves want to go. As my husband pointed out to my wee folk a few weeks ago, without any prompting from me, “If your mother wasn't around after school, you two wouldn't be able to do half the things you like to do including having playdates and participating in sports!” When I was growing up, not only did my mother lack a car, but there wasn't the enormous assortment of extra-curricular activities my children can choose from today. How lucky today's youth are to be able to pick from a menu of classes and sports that suit their fancies! And as for the schlepping, do you really think I want to spend most of my evenings hauling kids to soccer fields and gymnastics practices? I would rather be home, cooking dinner and getting my brood ready for bed instead of driving and waiting for them to be finished. I, and women like me, do it because we want our children to try new things and be able to pursue what they love.

When bored, my 8-year old decided to roll down the hill.  I would have barfed...

So there I was, with 30 or so other parents, accompanied with my husband who was frantically trying to keep the 8-year old amused. The field we were sitting in was damp and wind whipped through my layers and my blanket. My hopes soared or sank with every soccer ball my son kicked or missed. I bit my tongue when parents from the opposing team gleefully cheered their sons on to win the town's championship. And I mentally slapped them silly with an invisible 2'x4' when they sarcastically taunted the losing team with “better luck next year.” Bite me, you *(&! twits!

When Junior's team lost, I cried inside and hugged him outside. He'll be back next year because he loves to play. I'll be back on the field because I love him. And this week, like most, I'll spend my evenings schlepping my very talented 8-year old to and from gymnastics practice, not because I want to, but because she loves the sport. Like most parents of budding athletes, sports is time-intensive and expensive, but we do it, not for ourselves, but for our children. Yep. I am, indeed, a soccer mom and proud of it!

By the way, as I was researching the term “soccer mom” for this post, I found this great little story on the website

A mom was making breakfast of fried eggs for her young son. Suddenly, the boy bursts into the kitchen and starts yelling, “"Careful! Careful! Put in some more butter! Oh my goodness! You're cooking too many at once. TOO MANY! Turn them. TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter! Oh my! WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They're going to STICK! Careful! CAREFUL! I said CAREFUL! You NEVER listen to me when you're cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you crazy! Have you lost your mind? Don't forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!!"

The mom stared at him. "What's wrong with you? You think I don't now how to fry a couple of eggs?"

The son calmly replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I'm trying to play soccer."

Thanks for reading! Come again, won't you?

1 comment:

Kat said...

This is such a great post. My son is in soccer as well and I was just talking about how much more mature the kids are than some parents. We took him out of Soccer this year because the Coach HIMSELF was not very good with kids. Its sad when they play their hearts out for no pay, worked overtime, don't go to bed until 10 pm because they come home late and still have to do homework, but look forward to playing again. Some of the professional sports players should learn from these kids.