The Shocking Sweetness of Soccer Mom
By Christine Fugate
“What’s the big news here?” my husband asked me.
“That our baby girl is going to the soccer finals?” I answered. We had just come back from the game that put our 8-year-old’s team into the Laguna Beach tournament.
“No, that’s not it.”
“You unloaded the dishwasher?”
“Nope, nice try though. What’s the big news, the headline of your life right now?”
The headline, I pondered. And then the caffeine kicked in from this morning’s mug. “That I’m a soccer mom?”
“Exactly,” my husband smiled. “Not only are you a soccer mom, but the Team Mom. And who knew you were so competitive?”
I laughed. My husband was right. I used to look down at moms who spouted off their kids’ statistics and drove mini-vans with soccer balls splattered on the back. ‘Get a life,’ I would think, ‘there’s a big bad world out there beyond your kids’ athletic abilities.’
Yes, that’s true, but who wants to go there when you can stand on the sideline with other parents and cheer on your kids? And, I have to confess, even yell at them to chase the ball.
Yelling at my kid from the sidelines? Oh no, what have I become? Once again, motherhood has morphed me into some alien creature obsessed with scores and snacks as if I were a team manager in the World Cup.
I’ve always said that volunteering was for other moms. I didn’t have the patience or the time. But when signing my daughter up for soccer, I had to commit to volunteer either as a coach, referee or team mom. As a kid, I was the geeky girl always chosen last for games. I did work as a soccer ball girl (an intensely athletic position requiring one to chase out of bound balls) but quit as soon as I met a cute boy on the team.
Since my ball girl resume wouldn’t qualify me to coach or referee, I volunteered to be a team mom. What’s surprising is how much I enjoyed it. Heaven knows motherhood has morphed me into less enjoyable personas. For example, I can no longer spell. Words like recommend (one ‘c’ or two?) and receive (‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’) are now a challenge. If it weren’t for spell check, my entire vocabulary would be three letter Scrabble words.
I am also a lot less patient. Now, I yell at other drivers, sigh loudly in long lines, and often find the manager when there aren’t enough grocery store clerks.
And lastly, I worry like nobody’s business. Worry about the school bus (why no seatbelts?), play dates (like the one where the big brother ran around naked) and whether I’m being a good mom (did I really need to yell over the Sharpie on the wall?).
But, it’s because of worry that I enjoyed this past soccer season so much. My 8-year-old was diagnosed with asthma seven years ago and has spent many afternoons inhaling steroid breathing treatments. Watching her run up and down the field laughing and having fun was an incredible mommy high.
At the team party two weeks ago, the coaches gave me my very own team medal. It was my first and most likely only sports medal. Needless to say, I cried.
As the year comes to a close, I have to admit being a soccer mom was one of my happiest accomplishments. I know it sounds sappy and perhaps insane, but sometimes headlines can shock even those of us who write them.
And now for my final headline of 2010: “Basketball, anyone?”
Mothering Heights wishes you a holiday season filled with love and laughter. Christine teaches film at Chapman University. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org