I was reading through album reviews at Amazon.com when I came across a remark by a customer discussing an Eric Clapton album (I’m paraphrasing): “This album is okay for all the soccer moms who blast Clapton from their SUVs…”
Hey that’s me, I realized. Suddenly I’m part of a phenomenon. And I’m happy to be.
The truth is, up until a year ago even I too smirked at the Soccer Mom moniker. For this was a group I definitely had not been a part of, thank you very much. My middle son had barely tried soccer as a four-year-old when he gave up for reasons I still don’t quite grasp; something about not liking “all the running.” And I didn’t think my oldest son could focus enough on the rules of the game, much less all of the subtle social rules, so I didn’t bother with him until I formed a special ed soccer league last year; but that’s another column. Traditionally, soccer was not a part of our family. Soccer was something other people did who had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than run up and down a muddy field trying not to pick up a ball with their hands.
Then my son entered the second grade at Lincoln. I began to notice that all of his new friends played soccer. His friends kept asking if he was going to join, and he’d say (predictably): “No way.” The mothers asked me, too, if he would join the team, and I’d say, “Probably not.”
But it wouldn’t let go of me. My son was on his way to becoming bookish, creative, cerebral, non-athletic; that was okay with me. Or was it? Was it really okay for his path to be so definite at the age of seven? I didn’t think so.
We decided he would try it. The team, I quickly learned from the other parents standing with me on that sunny field, was not that good. I was poised to hear nasty remarks about this kid or that, about how the coach should do this or that. I was prepared for angry, intense parents yelling at their kids from the sidelines.
It never happened. The fall and spring seasons went by and all I ever came across were men and women who were enjoying themselves, commenting on how this kid improved so much, or how that one was particularly strong today. Every child got a chance at every game. The coach yelled more at the kids on the sideline who were playing tag and not paying attention, than at the kids on the field. I think the toughest message he ever had for them was that they should be like “angry bees” around the ball.
Each Saturday my husband and our three boys came to Lawrence field to watch the Satellites play and each Saturday we had a wonderful time. Our toddler would just run around in the mud and try to escape to the playgrounds at the edge of the field. Our oldest boy would chase birds, ride his bike, or play on the slide. And our middle child would play soccer.
Sometimes I heard a kid say, “We stink!” At first I would rush over and try to talk them out of it. “No, you’re getting better every game!” I would insist. But in time I realized that it didn’t matter what I said to them. I don’t think they even really believed it. It was more like they just had to say it every now and then. What mattered was that their coach and their own parents never told them they stunk. Their parents were there, week after week, drizzle or shine, cheering them on for defending the goal, for running well, for passing well. And every once in a while, for scoring. But it didn’t matter all that much. We were all so proud of those kids for sticking with it, sticking together, losing together, then shrugging and looking for the free popsicles. Let others laugh. I’m proud to be a Soccer Mom.
Copyright 2000, Susan Senator