Although this post is a little less ‘therapist’ and more ‘mom’ than normal, I write with both hats as I know many of my clients who have been on a baseball field, pool bleacher or dance theater and can definitely relate to the sentiments presented.
Grab your cleats, water bottle, shin guards and GET IN THE CAR…the words of every soccer mom.
Week after week, practice and dinner, dinner and practice and then weekend games. Home or Away? House or Travel League? Win or Lose?
The soccer moms were my lifeline “can you drive him, I have a client ?” . “We are out of town, can he stay with you for that game?” “I got this practice, can you get tomorrow?”.
We spent hours on bleachers together; the soccer moms (and dads). Freezing our tails off and burning into lobsters – soccer has no regard for the weather, if the fields are open they are playing.
So many different teams; the three-year-old clinics, the house league made up of kids from the elementary school, the All Star team and the merging of house teams to make a travel team. Each season new faces; new players bringing with them new parents.
The parents became my friends. I spent more time with them than with my dearest girlfriends. It was so very seasonal; we’d be in each other’s faces all Fall until the break before a short indoor Winter season and then Spring season started up again. We rarely spoke to one another off season, but there were always warm greetings and hugs at the beginning of a new game rotation.
Tournaments, oh the tournaments. Up at o’dark thirty to drive hours to a field in nowheresville. Myself, another mom and four boys in my van. It was always sweeter heading out than the return trip with the sweaty socks and smelly boys on their phones in the back. We’ve had team meals all over Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, gathered in many a hotel lobby for pizza and once, even washed the uniforms in the hotel laundry room. And, never was a weekend so much fun and connecting than the exhausting cold (and/or hot) tournament weekends.
Constant laughter filled the parent cheering section. We rooted for each other’s kids and cringed together when one of our players missed a crucial shot. At every (and their were many) injury, all the moms pooled their Advil and ice in the spirit of healing. On the sidelines we talked about books and vacation spots, we compared notes about our growing kids and tried to get the scoop on our own kid from a more-knowing mom.
We always had a season end party; often at my house which was a lot of fun. Fourteen sweaty boys in my basement playing X-box and a bunch of parents celebrating another good season of soccer and teamwork.
With the start of each season we would lose a player or two. They moved, switched schools or went to another team. For me, it was sad. I missed the kid and I missed the mom, my friend. I would bump into her at the grocery store, we hugged, caught up and moved on to our shopping list. Where was the bond? Was it a real friendship? All those texts between games, the laughter in our soccer chairs with the sun beating on our faces, it was so genuine at the moment and then our kids took us to different fields and new parent groups.
I could always count on the next season bringing another new kid with new parents. New friends. More car pool combinations. More tournaments and laughter.
Last year there was a shift. High school made for more options: Cross Country team, track, swimming and basketball. The kids had new and differing interests. They also had more school work and less time.
My kid began Cross Country/Track all three seasons; he liked it and was progressing really well. Daily practices, weekly meets as well as a heavy academic load plus soccer practices and games became overwhelming. It was too much to make it all work and something had to give – my kid quit soccer.
Suddenly, I am a track mom.
But, what about our soccer friends? The connections, the games, the great coach and the wonderful memories.
Was it all just that: soccer? He misses it, he loves soccer, but he is running and has joined a new group of athletes. Does he feel the loss like I do? I miss the team, the friends, the game. Sure, he misses it, but he is a sixteen year old boy, not a hormonal therapist mom who oozes in emotions.
Don’t get me wrong, track is great. The parents are wonderful and supportive, the coach is tough and committed. A Cross Country meet can be half as long as a soccer game and the school provides buses!, but I miss MY soccer people.
What does it all mean? This role of being the kids’ mom to whatever activity is the activity du jour? Are connections fleeting? Were they real? Was it just in the moment on that one field?
I don’t have the answers, but I do have great memories and wonderful people in my heart that I know will cross my path again be it in the produce section or on some bleacher in my future.
My mom went to visit my brother and his family at their summer home in Westhampton, New York this past weekend. (No fears, this is not going to be the first issue of “what I did during my summer vacation”). As my mom informed me, East Hampton is where the “movie people are” about an hour away from my brother’s home.
My mom (aka Grammy) enjoyed the beautiful beach on the west side until Sunday afternoon. My five-year-old niece had been invited to a birthday party of one of her little friends whose daddy happens to be a movie actor that we have all seen. My brother’s whole family, Grammy included, piled into the family SUV and drove to the site of the East Hampton birthday party.
As they arrived, said father (the actor) of the birthday girl was heading to the store to pick up some more wine; following a warm greeting he told my family to go on in to the party. There were several families already in attendance , some no-names and several other actors that we would all recognize. Grammy reported that it was a simple home; the kids were all playing in the backyard while the adults snacked on prepared salads and chicken from the local grocer. It wasn’t over the top or crazy fancy, it was the kind of party any of us would have in our own backyard. She also noted that everyone, actresses included, were dressed in shorts and tee shirts, bare faced and pony tails without any red carpet make-up or gowns.
While my brother and his wife ran after their kids, Grammy mingled with some of the other adults. She watched one actor argue with his six-year-old over what to eat; apparently he didn’t like the chicken nor did he hesitate to make his opinion known. She then found herself joined in conversation with that actor and another actress (a beautiful woman that we have all seen). They were discussing that they used the same contractor for their homes in California and had many mutual friends. Grammy just took it all in. The actress mentioned that her mother, also a well-known actress, was performing this summer and that was taking time away from her spending time with the grandchildren. The irony didn’t escape Grammy; these famous people were kvetching (whining) over the same things that we mere mortals all vent about on a daily basis. Life, kids, parents, work, contractors; we ALL do it, rich and famous too.
As Grammy reminded me, we all put our pants on one foot at a time (some may be slipping into $350 size 0 pants, nevertheless it is still one foot at a time). We often gawk at celebrities and romanticize their glamorous lives, and yet they are human too. We hear about their publicized addictions, divorces and arrests, but they also have every day joys and troubles just like all of us.
My son just had to hear the story first hand from his grandmother so he picked up the phone to get the scoop. As they were saying their good-byes, I heard him say to Grammy “Keep partying with the famous people”; not a sentence I ever expected to hear from his mouth to her ears.