According to Wikipedia the definition of a soccer mom broadly refers to "a North American middle-class suburban woman who spends a significant amount of her time transporting her school-age children to their youth sporting events or other activities." This soccer mom is a little more involved than that and has developed a love/hate relationship with the sport over the years.
The 5 Things I Love:
- I love the exercise they get. I firmly believe that a large part of our country's obesity problem comes from the lack of exercise kids receive. I remember as a kid going outside after school and staying out until the street lights came on. Not these days! Now our kids are holed up in a dark basement playing first person video games while eating cheetos and drinking coke.
- I love the life lessons it teaches. Contrary to what is taught by our public school system and society in general, travel soccer teaches kids that there is a winner and a loser and that you're not going to get a trophy just for showing up. My daughter's team is young and have only been playing together for less than a year so they haven't exactly tasted the thrill of victory. My son has had seasons where his team went undefeated the entire season and lost a big tournament by one point. He's also had seasons where they don't win a single game and have no hopes of championship. Both are ok! It's ok to win and it's ok to lose. Soccer teaches our kids that as long as you do your best you're a success. I love watching the determination on my son's face when he's facing an opponent. He typically plays defense and when an opponent is running down the field towards him he's focused with a look on his face like "you're not getting by me!" Usually he's successful, sometimes he's not. Soccer also teaches kids to work as a team. Our society is full of narcissistic, selfish people. Kids today seem to think the world revolves around them and we are all here to benefit them. Soccer teaches kids how to work together for the team to succeed.
- I love watching my daughter give her all. My 8 year old self-described princess plays goalie. I've watched in awe as she sacrifices her body to prevent the ball from going in the goal when an hour before she could've been heard saying something along the lines of "awww man...my nail polish is chipped..."
- I love that it gave me another option for discipline. I don't spank my kids. So when my other techniques don't seem to be working I have an Ace up my sleeve--I make them run laps. Up and down hills. Where did I learn this little gem? Soccer practice! It looked awful and painful....and that's when the light bulb went off. Not only are they regretting whatever they did but they're also conditioning for soccer. Two birds, one stone.
- I love being able to pay it forward. My dad would get up early every morning and take me to the stable to ride my horse. Freezing cold, burning sun, rain or shine. My mom would drive me all over town -- back and forth to the barn, to violin practice, piano practice, softball practice... So when I'm wondering what the hell is wrong with me that I'm on a soccer field at 7 am in the middle of winter bundled up and clutching my hot coffee I remind myself of what my parents did, how much I appreciate it and how much they sacrificed. And hope that my little ingrates appreciate what I am doing when they have kids.
The 5 Things I Hate:
- I hate listening to the crazy parents. "Johnny get the BALL!!!!" .... "PASS!!!" ..... "go to the MIDDLE!!" These are just some of the gems I hear at every game. It's even more obnoxious when they play on an indoor turf field, where every sound is amplified. These parents obviously think they have the next Messi on their hands even though they themselves have never played soccer a day in their life. That or they're banking on their kid getting a college scholarship like I am. I've heard tell of parents literally going onto the field themselves to kick the ball and I've even seen parents go to fisticuffs at a tournament--and they weren't even watching the same game! At least it's good sideline entertainment. I'm more of a quiet cheerleader, giving them a thumbs up when they look over for approval. I don't think they want me screaming my head off anyway.
- I hate getting up half past the crack of dawn to go and sit in the frigid cold. Need I say more....
- I hate tournament weekends. It's more of a love/hate thing. I love watching them play so much and the excitement of a tournament ("tourney" in soccer mom circles) but I hate that my entire weekend is spent on a soccer field. I have certain things that need to be done on the weekend if anyone wants to eat or wear clean clothes and tournaments mean I have to either do it all on Friday night (if we're not traveling to the tourney) or get it all done on Sunday evening. If you're lucky enough to be at a tournament that has concessions and "facilities" you pay $8 for a hot dog and have to try to figure out how to hold your potty training toddler over a disgusting port-o-potty while trying not to breathe in the stench that comes from a port-o-potty at the end of a long hot summer weekend. It's times like these that make me think of teaching them the art of peeing in a bush....
- I hate how competitive it is. It seems like everything is competitive in soccer. I'm sure it's the same in all kid sports. But there seems to be a certain type of parent (and therefore kid) that is more competitive than the others. You know the type I'm talking about. Their kid comes to practice or a game wearing the most expensive cleats and the cutest outfits with their hair tied up with a super cute little soccer ribbon, with a monogrammed soccer bag on their back kicking along a soccer ball that matches their too-expensive cleats. How cute. And after the game Mrs. PerfectMommy has the perfect after game snack of juice boxes, orange slices and teddy grahams. There are some parents that compete with this and then there's me. My kid shows up with their hair in a rat's nest knot on top of their head with a worn out elastic, wearing the cheap cleats I found at our local consignment shop and a mismatched uniform, schlepping their hand-me-down soccer bag monogrammed for someone else, kicking along their ratty ball. It was my turn to bring the snack? Shit...guess I'll have to run to WaWa during the game. The only time they show up looking somewhat presentable is when they're playing in a league game. And when you play in a select soccer league, you bring your own snack.
- I hate the drama. I manage my son's travel team. Basically, I do the not-so-fun paperwork and let the parents know about practice and game times so the coaches can concentrate on coaching. It seems like there is always some sort of drama associated with managing a team. You wouldn't think so, but trust me--there is. Parents don't want to give up their kid's birth certificate and I have to beg and plead for it, trying to explain that the only reason they need it is to prove to the refs that their kid didn't drive to the game and isn't some South American phenom in hiding. (gotta have a fair playing field here, folks...) I swear on all things holy that I'll give it back to them ASAP and won't steal their kid's identity. They begrudgingly give it to me with barely enough time to submit it to the registrar as requested. Really? I have to go through all that just so your kid can play on a select soccer team? Don't get me wrong--I love being able to contribute and managing a team appeals to my semi-TypeA personality. But I left the high school drama in high school.
So there you have it. Overall, I love that my kids play an organized sport but I also love the two or three weekends a year when I get a break from soccer.