World’s Worst Soccer Mom
Memoir Of The World’s Worst Soccer Mom
I hate my kids’ playing sports. There. I typed it out. It felt so freeing to admit it that I will state it again. I HATE that both of my kids play organized team sports. I despise the time, the money, effort, lost vacations, uniforms, fundraisers, other teams, other parents and sometimes even our own teams’ parents. There is not one redeeming thing about organized kids sports I enjoy. I am officially the World’s Worst Soccer Mom.
This was not always the case. Once a upon a time that I can no longer remember, team sports were fantastic. The same excitement that surrounds Christmas and the beginning of a new school year, once lingered in our home the days before soccer season would start. Uniforms laid out, cleats clean and smelling of new leather and even the prepackaged after game snacks brought joy to my life.
But all of it stopped being adorable and a fun way to spend a few hours on a Saturday about five years ago. When my kids finally began growing their “skill set” inside their particular sport, I lost any love I have for team athletics.
Gone are the days of packing up snacks and linking our hands together in a tunnel for our kids to run through as we parents squeal with glee at the preciousness of clumsy athletics.
These days, we tell boys not to cry when they snap bones. Coaches and parents alike encourage players to practice and play until they are exhausted and overly exerted. We scream at girls to “throw her down”, “go harder” and “fight through it”, even though “it” may be a concussion.
Why do we continue to sign up for this?
Seven years later and I still have no effing idea.
I asked another mother this very question a few months ago and I might as well have slapped her in the face. At first, I wanted to laugh at her response, but she was somber when she declared? “You mean you do not LOVE doing this? This is how we spend our vacation budget every year. Soccer is our release from life.”
When I told her a Best Western motel in a city three hours away from home with a contentienal breakfast was not my idea of a vacation, she huffed and told me “You just don’t appreciate giving your kid’s a college education.”
I assured her that I most certainly do prize education. I personally have three degrees, including a J.D. I love learning and college and still have a desire one day earn an MFA. I also told her I stopped playing team sports my sophomore year of high school. College and soccer do not always go together.
If my kids are interested in college, than so am I. But in this day and age, college careers are not the standard for a good life. My husband has no advanced degree and is passionate about his job as a firefighter. While I will help our kids in every way we are able, I will never guarantee my kids I will pay for college and I do not believe parents should.
I personally care about education so much that I have offered one kid of ours a college scholarship. Each year before the start of the soccer season, I print out a new copy of my personal retirement 401k. There is more money in it than it will take to pay for both of my kids to go to college. I show this statement to my kids, now 13 and 9 and tell them it is all theirs.
It goes to the first one who doesn’t make me sign them up for fall soccer. They have until they are fifteen to make the decision. Five years in and still no takers. I keep my 401k and they get a year long “season” of chasing after a ball.
This particular mom and I know longer speak because, I have to assume, it was something I said. It usually is. I have seen the statistics for the amount of soccer scholarships given and also the amount of those offers that are made to women. My daughter even wrote a report about it and we enjoyed a riveting dinner conversation about gender inequality and pay gaps between males and females.
And yet, both kids in our household hold tight to the dream of playing for the US Olympic soccer teams. As their mom, I hope that they do. But all of it will be with their mom dragging her feet. There is nothing about being a soccer mom I don’t hate. Remove the soccer and keep the mom-it’s the only part of this parenting journey I enjoy beside a field.
If I wanted to be constantly entertained by abusing someone else, I would torture the department store salesperson by having her tell me how last year’s swimsuit looks amazing on me. Most of the time instead of being encouraging and helpful on the sidelines, we parents ( and a lot of coaches) look like child abusers.
Also, please spare me the talk about the beauty/endurance/growth opportunities team sports instills in kids. My two kids already play on another team and that one comes before all the others. It is called the team of the four of us. If you cannot stop screaming at your brother over borrowing your iPad, I do not believe learning to pass a ball to another player is anymore of an example of “teamwork.”
The shit people say to kids on the middle of a soccer field is despicable. It is also called verbal abuse if it happens any other place than the field. If I saw two kids body check each other in Wall-Mart & a mom screaming “take her down”, the police would get called. But move that same behavior to a field, add a referee and a ball-and it makes me think less about of the whole sum of humanity.
We tell kids to “go hard”, “fight back” and “sacrifice your body” in order to win. First, my kids are not the second coming of Jesus. They will be sacrificing nothing but the waste of a Sunday morning for such nonsense. Also “fight back”- um, that’s a hard pass.
The fact that kids survive and eventually thrive through such emotional abuse is how I know there is a God. I have often wondered what would happen if in mid-game, when tensions are high and parents are at the highest level of psychopathy, if both teams just walked off the field. I’d give them each $100 if they did it arm in arm as one team unified in the objection to their parents’ behavior.
My friends whose kids play other sports than soccer swear it is all the same, but I am in a cesspool of hostile personalities and it makes me no longer see black and white. It is usually firey shades of red. Want to know how mean girls are taught? They learn it from their mothers and they get to act it out against other girls on a field. The name calling and obscenities started between players at 10.
Does any of this mean that I love my kids any less? Or that I do not enjoy watching them do something they love? Of course not. But currently our soccer season begins in July and ends in May with less than a month off at anytime in between.
That is a whole lot of watching what they love. If I spent that much time doing what I loved, you could change my name to Sleeping Beauty. I told my daughter the other day it is against everything we say what we believe about motherhood to let her play soccer.
I surrender custody of her for almost two hours during a game, trusting her safety to a referee who makes less than $10 an hour and to a coach who is supposed to win. She then endures physical torture and name calling that if it happened at school would result in her living with a bar of soap in her mouth. I am not allowed to do anything about it and encouraged to cheer her own and not throat punch the other team when they berate her from the sidelines.
There are games I wonder “this will be the one that lands me in an orange jumpsuit.” She laughed and said “but Mom I love it. And you need to put down your coffee…I’m late for practice.”
I’m learning to embrace the title of World’s Worst Soccer Mom. I may even have a bumper sticker made for my car.