My Brief Episode As A Soccer Mom

Ada soccer close

You might not believe this since I’m the mother of six, but it’s is my first year being a soccer mom. I’ve avoided the stigma of soccer mom-dom for many years, for the same reasons that many mothers refuse to drive minivans: you feel like you have lost every bit of cool-ness and are now nothing but a slave to your children. Unlike a minivan, which is pretty much the greatest thing ever invented, soccer is a life-sucking drag. OK, it’s not really that bad. But somehow I ended up sitting on a soccer field three nights per week and for a few hours on Saturday.

Listen, I don’t hate team sports. Well, I kind of do, but my children–Adelaide especially–have been begging to play soccer for years. Yes, years. And when my friend Anna called saying her son and Jasper could carpool, I threw caution to the wind and signed up Ada and Jasper for the local soccer club.

Now I finally get it when people ask me incredulously how I juggle everything. Before we did soccer, life was pretty much a cake-walk, schedule-wise. We really only did piano lessons and those lessons were mostly before school. After school we just all hung out, I helped kids with homework, listened to tattling/fighting children and made dinner.  Once soccer started I was required to drop everything right at Prime Time and head over to practice. That meant that dinner became a pre-made thrown-together affair. If I was on top of things (ever so rare) I’d have some sort of crock pot thing ready. Most of the time, though, it was easy-to-heat up food like Kirkland pulled pork tacos (it is sublime meat, by the way). Better than McDonalds but I think feeding a family is a job that mothers need to take seriously.

Toward the end of the season I just dropped the kids off and went home, picking them up later. The field is only 5 minutes away so it’s not a huge commute. But then they feel bad that I never watch so I’d get sucked into staying. While I’m complaining let me just remind you that September and October are hot here in Texas, even at night, and sitting outside was definitely torture.

And then there were the games on Saturday. Saturday morning is my special time. My laze about time. Not my hustle-up-and-find-team-shirts-and-remember-that-it’s-our-turn-for-snacks-and-then-sit-in-the-hot-sun-for-three-hours time. And if you even suggest that I’m being selfish, pardon me while I laugh in your face. You can accuse me of being lots of things but when you’re a mom of this many kids, selfish is one thing that is simply not possible.

By the end of the season (which was last week) I realized that the whole family was suffering. Yes, two children got to do something fun but ultimately playing soccer wasn’t the biggest deal to them. I felt like it added a whole new layer of craziness to our lives. I wasn’t able to spend as much time helping the older kids with homework (and yes, older kids need help with homework and it’s way harder than learning times tables). I didn’t have that down-time to connect with everybody.

When I stopped to think about it, why were even playing soccer in the first place? Yes, the kids wanted to. But they also want to drink Hershey’s syrup straight from the bottle and stay up tip 11 pm. In other words, who cares what they want? But maybe they were soccer prodigies that would never have a chance to develop their talents? Uhhh, yeah. If they were born to play soccer we would have figured that out years ago.  Maybe so they could learn teamwork? They’re already on a team. Team Hildie and they’re on this team for eternity. Because they’re the only kids who’ve never played soccer and I’m starting to feel like a loser mom? Ahhh, now we have the real reason. It’s just the grown up form of peer pressure. Heaven forbid your kids aren’t the only ones taking dance/soccer/gymnastics. Kids don’t see the benefit of eating a nice dinner as a family every night. But experts have been saying that this is the one thing that determines whether kids take drugs or become successful. Not soccer.

It may make me sound like I should live in Communist China but what is good for the individual is less important to me than what is good for the whole. And soccer hasn’t been good for the whole. So toodle-oo shin guards, may we never meet again!

15 thoughts on “My Brief Episode As A Soccer Mom

  1. AMEN!! We did soccer last year (2 kids in Arizona) and I felt like it drove me insane! My kids are happy and healthy without it, and their mom is so much nicer when not running around schlepping kids and trying to scrounge dinner up.

  2. We tried it once, with our oldest. I literally cannot believe that people live like that! People give up Saturdays and several nights a week. I think we might look back historically and wonder why this was such a phenomenon. I can’t think all that running around and not eating together is making our families stronger. It is so upside down too. Do you know many adults who get to put 8 hours a week into a hobby like that?

    1. Why don’t adults put the time and effort into hobbies and activities? We would get a lot more out of them than a 5-year-old! If you spend hours driving your kids around and going to stuff for them it’s considered good parenting but if you did that for yourself it would be seen as horrendous. Totally mixed-up!

  3. Thank you for this. Thank you. I’m not selfish either, I just want to stay sane. In fact, I foolishly signed Rachel up for a tennis lesson that runs 5:30-7, and I realized halfway through the first one that there is NO WAY we can continue at that stupid hour. NO WAY.

    1. It’s totally ridiculous. But when soccer ended last week they coaches were talking about forming an indoor league toplay over the winter. And I considered signing up! What is the matter with me???

  4. I KNOW!!! We’ve never done sports before this year and we had Tennis 5 nights a week and Soccer three nights a week, about 20 mins apart, overlapping! It could never have happened before this year because my husband got a new job and wasn’t home before this year to have gotten the other kid to their sport! And all of it from 445-730! ARGH!

    1. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and say, “I quit!”. Why don’t we encourage new skills and hobbies in adults as much as we do in children? It makes no sense.

  5. Since there is no school on Wednesday, that is the day I am chief taxi-driver for ballet, gymnastique, and piano. It’s a big day but we can still all sit down together for dinner. Of course, we also do that every day at noon since they get a two hour lunch break. It’s a lot of cooking but I figure I am double dosing on the “family that eats together, stays together” stuff. Not sure I’d be up for soccer in that Texas heat! You’re a good mom, indeed.

  6. Whoooooeeeee! What madness!
    NOW I know why my parents of ten (!) never 1) encouraged us to do extracurricular activities, and 2) if we were ever forced by the school system to engage in such, why they never went and “supported” us. How COULD they have!?!? Besides, we only had one car. But we ALWAYS had a big family dinner together!

    However, I do apologize to your sister, Arianne, who was crushed because I never attended her Volleyball games. I was raised to consider school sports just-for-the-kids frivolity. I’ve repented by tending HER kids 3 times a week.

  7. I could have written this myself!!! It is so nice to read this and hear about like-minded people. I usually feel like such an oddball explaining that no, we don’t do…x,y or z. But life is so much happier, at least for our family. And my kids usually hate things about a month into it and them I’m stuck pleading & forcing them to stick it out to the end!

  8. I think the thing you’re really on to here is “parent peer pressure”. Still struggling with this one myself. 😉

  9. Food for thought. Thank you. I had some things clarified in my mind while seeing your thoughts in writing. We have had our seasons where everyone is involved in something extracurricular, and those times, like right now, where no one has anything. Ha! I say that and then realize there is Mutual, scouts, ballroom (2 days a week right after school that I am not involved in at all), and Jacob’s band concerts. And scouting and Faith in God requirements we are trying to meet.

    Just these few things piled on top of the incredible amounts of homework and I feel stretched to the max all. the. time. And yes – I feel that my nurturing of my children is numero uno priority.

  10. I couldn’t agree more!! In the area where I live, people’s children start playing sports at such a young age, and by high school every minute of the day is filled with some sport or activity. It seems to me like sort of a competition; who can be busier and juggle the most extracurricular activities wins! For some reason, a lot of these people see being busier as being better. And they sort of look down on, or feel sorry for people who have too much “spare time” on their hands. I think every child SHOULD have spare time during every day to spend with their family, not running from one place to another, eating dinner in the car, and falling asleep doing their homework because they are so exhausted. (These examples are very true). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to team sports or clubs, or anything of the like, but I don’t see the value in it when it becomes so extreme. I agree with you, Hildie, about doing what is best for the whole, not the individual, especially when you have six children to consider! The benefit of the family time and family meals will greatly outweigh a couple seasons of soccer!

  11. I dread this. I really do.
    I have one toddler and not too long ago, a neighbor with three boys told me there is fall, winter and spring soccer along with fall and spring baseball, etc. And if your kids decides to take a break from any sport and leaves a “season” open, they may not get back on a team because their lack of playing a team sport is seen by the coaches as a sign of not being committed or something. Really? Seriously? I mean, just what is wrong with people??

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