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Monday, November 3, 2008

When Your Mom Used to Be A Soccer Star

Oh yeah, it's another happy manic Monday!  I introduce to you another guest blogger and hopefully a mainstay here at MWOB, my oldest friend Kath - a friend who knows my soul just like a friend of over 30 years should.  Kath and I met when we were 8 years old after my family just made the move of a lifetime from Chicago to Phoenix.   Our friendship has simply spanned most everything significant in a girl's life and I sincerely wish my daughters will have a friend in their life like Kath.  As a mom, Kath is as normal as it gets.  She is my rock in a sea of self-doubt reminding me I'm not the only one who yells.  

Kath did not title this post, I took the liberty since I was one of those childhood friends who knew what kind of athlete she was.  My dad still speaks of the countless goals Kath scored when we played together on the same field.   I love this post from her because since my firstborn is currently involved in her first year of soccer, I can totally relate.  I mean TOTALLY.  Enjoy!

From Kath:

Ask any of my childhood friends, and they’ll tell you I was a pretty decent athlete growing up. Better than decent, pretty doggone good, if I do say so myself. I was your basic tomboy, shunning anything pink, frilly or dainty for dirty and physical. I played lots of sports; softball, soccer, basketball, even volleyball. Man, there was nothing like going all out in a sport you loved. Thinking back to those good ‘ol days, I can smell the dirt of the infield or feel the dampness of a grassy soccer field on a Saturday morning. My heart pounds thinking of the thrill of full-on body sliding into second base for the steal. I get giddy remembering sprinting down the soccer field, elbowing and slamming into other girls to get my foot on the ball for a laser pass, or perhaps even a shot into the net. Yep, I LOVED playing sports.

Without a doubt, soccer was my favorite. As you can imagine, I couldn’t wait to get my kids into the game I cherished as a youngster. Unbelievably, my oldest child, Brendan, wanted absolutely nothing to do with soccer. How could this be? Was he really mine?? But Brendan prefers sports and activities where he doesn’t actually have to TOUCH other kids (we’ll save that for another post). So, respecting his uniqueness, I didn’t push the issue.

However, when my second child, Patrick, expressed an interest in soccer at age 4, I leapt at the request. We ran right out to Big 5 and purchased just the right pair of shin guards (cool shiny silver, long enough to protect the entire shin, light enough not to weigh him down and impede his speed). He needed cleats, nylon shorts, and, of course a new water bottle. As I checked out with our purchases, I daydreamed of my little Pele tearing up the field, dazzling everyone with his footwork. I’m actually thinking, “Maybe the coach will have to limit his playing time to give the other kids a chance to score.”

The Saturday of his first game is, without a doubt, a day I will never forget for as long as I live. If you’ve been to a 4 year-old’s soccer game before, bear with me here. For those of you who haven’t, it’s quite similar to watching a group of gnats flying around a room. You rarely get to see the actual soccer ball during the game. Four players play at a time for each team, so you spend the game watching 8 sets of legs kicking and scrambling for the ball. Dirt and dust flies everywhere. And occasionally (most often by pure accident) the ball ends up in the net.

I watched as my Patrick was put in the game. He started off just chasing the kids around the field. “Okay, he’s just warming up,” I thought.  I waited for my little scoring machine to attack. Low and behold, he just continued to run after the group of kids, seemingly oblivious to the soccer ball on the field. 

At one point, the ball broke away from the group and started rolling right to my boy. Here we go!! But Patrick actually BACKED AWAY from the ball and let a little girl from the other team have it. What could I do? Only what any other ex-soccer playing mom would do…I started yelling. “GET THE BALL, PATRICK! GO AFTER IT! KICK IT TOWARDS THE GOAL!! NO, THE OTHER WAY!! Well, you get the idea.

All of a sudden, my son completely stopped running. He slowly and deliberately walked across the field until he stood right in front of me. Then, my sweet little guy gazed up at me with his huge, saucer, ocean-blue eyes and calmly asks, “Mom, why are you yelling at me?” 

I stood there shocked and silent, jaw at my feet, coffee cup in hand. “I’m not yelling, I’m cheering for you!” I say in my most confident mommy voice. 

But my wise little man just continued to stare at me, his face so innocent, his heart so pure. I couldn’t fool this kid; we both knew what was happening. So, I crouched down to face him eye to eye and promised him that I wouldn’t yell or cheer or say anything else for the rest of the game. He smiled and resumed his pursuit of the other kids.

I’d like to say it’s never happened again, but with three kids now in different sports, I admit that I slip sometimes. I try to catch myself and remember that day on the soccer field with Patrick. It’s amazing how sometimes the littlest people in our lives have the greatest insight into our behavior as adults. It’s yet another bonus to this wonderful journey of motherhood.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness. I ran track in high school and in college. I watch my kids run, and it physically pains me.

    This post hit home, definitely!



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