I saw a window decal on a van the other day stating "Soccer Mom." It got me thinking, and I had to admit that I too have arrived at that status.
When my kids were younger, I didn't truly understand the term. I figured it was like those moms we see on the TV show "Dance Moms" who go to extreme measures and seem almost brutally competitive, but in terms of soccer.
However, I've realized that when people refer to themselves as a "soccer mom," they are really just summarizing all of their free time into two little words. It doesn't mean they are obsessed or crazy, but rather that they support their kids in an activity that takes up A LOT of time.
Let me just summarize my soccer week: Tuesdays, three of my girls have practice. I drop one off, rush to the opposite end of town to another park to drop off a different daughter, then hurry back and hold practice for my youngest. The first one joins us when she's done and then we go back to the other park and wait for the oldest to be done and then go home. This routine takes three hours of our evening. We repeat on Thursday.
Wednesday and Friday evening, my other daughter has practice. Thankfully, she is the only one and we play at the park (I run) for the 1.5 hours until she is done.
But then comes Saturday. This last Saturday was crazy. We left for our first game at 7 a.m. It was followed by another one a few hours later. Then we rushed to a 1:30 game in Murrieta that started late and didn't end until 3:30, which left barely enough time to grab some pizza and refill our water bottles before we left again. We had to be in Corona at 5 p.m. for another game. By the time we got home, it was 9 p.m.
Notice that not only is almost every evening of the week gone, but our Friday night and Saturday is gone too. Wait, though, it gets better. When your kids play competitive soccer, you get to travel to tournaments on three-day weekends. So those are gone too. If two kids play and your tournaments are at different places, then you get to take separate vacations.
This may sound crazy, but it's what you do when you have multiple kids who love the same sport and are good at it. (Yes, I'm biased.) I'd tell them it was too much, but they love it, they manage to keep their grades high, and we've managed to make it work. Besides, which kid am I supposed to tell that they can't play because their sisters are playing? That's tough.
There are rewards to all this madness. On Saturday I got to see the joy one daughter shared with her team when they won their first game. I saw the young girls I coach begin to learn what it means to be a team. Another daughter is playing a new position and has found joy in scoring goals at her games and knowing what it is like when a team is truly depending on you.
We got to attend the game in Corona as a family. The team played like champions and it was a joy to watch. The younger kids cheered for their sister's team, but they also had fun playing soccer together behind the field. Our youngest made up a game called "Wet Ghost," where one person put a wet towel over their head and tried to tag someone. It had been a very long, very hot day, but in the coolness of the evening breeze, all of our kids were having a great time. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream and ended a great day.
Thankfully, all Saturdays aren't quite as long and I'll admit they often aren't so peachy, either. We've experienced our share of tough losses, bad sportsmanship, injuries, and cranky kids. But as long as it continues to be a positive experience for our kids, it isn't negatively impacting our family, and it's something they want to do, I'll continue to be a "soccer mom." Making sacrifices to do what's best for the kids is just part of being a parent.
Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every Thursday. Comments are welcome.