I am a soccer mom. If you’re not sure if you’re also a soccer mom, take this easy quiz:
If you have a sunburn that includes your nose and forehead (nothing covered by sunglasses), your legs from the hem of your shorts to your knees, and one side of your body predominantly over the other…you may be a soccer mom.
If you have very specific opinions on collapsible, camping chairs and have occasionally experienced jealousy when seeing other people with far better chairs—usually ones equipped with built-in umbrellas…you may be a soccer mom.
If you can find most or all of the following in your van or SUV: a ball pump, water bottles, long socks, and lots of grass…you may be a soccer mom.
If your son or daughter would consider the name “Messi” a compliment…you may be a soccer mom.
I grew up in a family where sports were an afterthought. Neither my sisters nor I played anything other than the piano. As teenagers, we attended many sporting events to cheer on our classmates, but it wasn’t life changing. In fact, “being competitive” was something I considered a character flaw. I’m beginning to change my mind.
On Sunday afternoon, I watched my son’s team play three games. Our team lost the first game, won the second game against a different team, and then had to play that first team—the ones who beat us mercilessly—again for the third game. All of us parents were dreading that third game. The boys were exhausted. I was praying for a freak thunderstorm to rush in and force us to call it off. But the whistle was blown for the game to begin.
They started off strong, defending positions to keep the other team from scoring but their defensive wall began to show some cracks. By halftime, it looked hopeless. Our team hadn’t scored and the other team was making it look too easy. Many parents yelled at the referees to make better calls, but deep down we all knew it was only going to get uglier.
I watched my son with a mother’s eyes. I looked for tears of frustration and signs of despair, but saw none. He would attempt passes that were quickly stolen by the opposition. Even when our coach moved him to play goalie and he failed to defend two goals, he kept on going. He played hard and called to his teammates as if there was still a chance for them to turn things around.
If this were a movie, I would finish the story with a triumphant ending: “They called timeout with minutes to go. In the huddle, they made a plan and Coach gave them a pep talk to end all pep talks. When playing resumed, they scored fifteen goals in a row and won!”
Since this wasn’t a movie, I have to report that they lost the game. I’m not sure about the final score because I stopped counting somewhere around 6-0. When it was over, I expected my son to be disappointed. He was mainly hungry.
As we prepared to leave, one of the players from the other team passed us. He said to my son, “Good game” and my son responded, “Thanks.” In that simple exchange, two ten year-olds taught me the healthy side of competition. They both played hard, but someone had to win and someone had to lose.
While he was on the field, my son was laser focused on the roles he had to play for his team. Because he gave it his all, when the game was over, he could walk away feeling good about what he had done. He knew there would be many more opportunities to prove himself later. He didn’t need a token trophy for participation or even a consoling ice cream cone. He hopped in the van, a true competitor.
Even if he had won the World Cup, I couldn’t have been prouder.