Six years ago, I signed up my 3-year-old for pee-wee soccer because I was pretty excited to get him started in activities. It’s a great way to introduce sports, plus it’s adorable. Am I right?
It’s so much fun watching this precious little herd of children all go after the ball at the same time, score in their own goals and still get excited about it. You take lots of photos, sip your coffee, and “aww” with all of the other parents for an hour on Saturday mornings.
As they get older, this eventually turns into a practice during the week and a game on Saturday. It’s a bit more challenging than the pee-wee time commitment, but it’s manageable. Your child’s skills begin to develop, and although they are still a far cry from the Premier League, it’s beginning to resemble soccer.
Fast forward a few years and the next thing you know, you’re crossing state lines and sleeping at a Motel 6 to spend two days at a soccer tournament. I’m not really sure how I got here. It just sort of happened, and now I’m in so deep that I don’t even know if it is possible to extract myself.
I have recently come to realize that this is the season my friends with older children have spoken of for so long. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Sorry, we can’t make it because Tommy has a [insert sporting event].” I never understood why that was so time consuming, and I swore that my kids and their sporting events would never hijack my weekends.
And now here I am … a soccer mom.
So I’d like to share with you a few confessions:
I own a canopy tent and it’s not for tailgating.
This past summer we moved from Belgium to the Florida Panhandle so playing soccer in 95-degree temperatures with 100% humidity was certainly a big adjustment, but one we felt prepared for because we had previously lived in Florida.
However, imagine my surprise when we arrived at the first tournament and it looked like the parking lot of the Meadowlands just before kick-off. I thought, “Good grief people, take it down a notch! It’s youth soccer not the Giants-Cowboys game…For.the.love…”
I then spent the next two days sheltered under a golf umbrella to keep the Florida sun off my red-headed, fair-skinned self.
A week later, we a bought a tent.
I will never understand the “offside rule” (but I pretend that I do).
That’ right. I don’t get it, and I probably never will, so I fake it. When the whistle blows to stop play and there’s no obvious foul or an injured player on the ground, I assume it’s that “offsides thing.” And when another parent starts complaining that the referee missed an offsides call, I supportively say, “yeah, that guy must be blind. That was SO offsides…” My husband finds a lot of humor in how cluelessly supportive I am on the sidelines.
Having multiple children in the same sport does NOT make life easier.
I foolishly thought having my two boys (who are two years apart) playing soccer for the same club would streamline things and make life a little easier for our family.
Instead, having two kids in the same sport just means you’re at the same practice field three or four nights a week instead of two, and a weekend tournament means six to eight games over the span of two days instead of three or four games. There’s also a good chance that you’ll be running between fields if they’re playing at the same time (which, of course, they usually are). You heard it here, folks – you will not “save time” or “streamline” anything by having your kids play the same sport.
More kids = more activities. Period. Let them find their thing and embrace the chaos.
Sometimes I hope they lose.
Yes, it’s my dirty little secret, but let me explain. Imagine an entire weekend devoted to a soccer tournament and the only thing standing between you and a relaxing few hours on a Sunday afternoon is a 4 p.m. final championship match.
Now, if that match was at noon, I would be all in – “Go team! Let’s do this!”
But because the weekends seem to fly by at lightening speed, sometimes part of me is hoping they lose the morning game so they don’t have to play in the final — I’d much prefer to be at home spending quality time with my family on Sunday afternoon before we start the weekly grind on Monday morning.
So yes, sometimes I kinda hope they lose, but most of the time…
I cheer like a crazy soccer mom.
Despite it all, I love watching my kids play. Yes, I complain about the three evenings every week we devote to practice, the weekends taken up with tournaments, and the countless hours spent in the car getting to and from every event. However, when my boys are actually on the pitch and playing in a game, I’m cheering just as loud (or louder) than the parents who actually know the meaning of offsides.
I may not be wearing a t-shirt with my child’s name and number on the back (I need to maintain a shred of my own identity), but rest assured, I’m a proud soccer mom even if I got here a bit reluctantly.
So, I guess after all my reluctance, the joy of watching my kids giving their all on the field is perhaps my biggest confession of all.