Moms Without Blogs has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Soccer Picture Shapshot of A Carefree Spirit

Written by Karen, a mom without a blog
(From Lee: Karen is BACK after too-long of a break and an unexpected
surgery with Penni.  Her return has made my day.)

Lame, clueless, stupid…well maybe not stupid (we don’t use this word in our house), but definitely on the dumb-ass side of motherhood am I.

Sorry for the harsh words, but that is exactly how I feel right now about a recent moment with one of my daughters.

I have to say that I truly pride myself (or at least I used to…) on my ability to “relate” to my kids. I consider myself lacking in many mommy skills, especially of the domestic/household nature, but always felt like I was easy to approach and talk to if my kids ever needed to vent about anything, even if they wanted to vent about me. I took this as a keen ability to “know” my kids and have a good sense of what makes them tick.

My 8-year-old daughter, we can call her “2nd” or “middle” or maybe something equally un-original like “half-pint” (my homage to Laura Ingalls – the middle-child icon from the prairie in the 70’s).   

Okay, my Half-Pint is probably the textbook underappreciated middle child, forever caught between her active, complicated, creatively talented and over-achieving teenage sister and her adorable, joyful, spirited, special needs pre-school sister. How’s a well-behaved, insightful, generally content, super-smart 8-year-old to compete????

As you can see, I’m good at labeling my kids – I’ve got their number, right?

Wrong, oh so painfully wrong…

We experienced soccer team pictures in a local Salt Lake City park a few days ago. Team picture locations are an interesting character study in themselves… it's where you can tell how caring the parents are by how brushed, washed and primped the players look before the shutter snaps.

Mine refused hair brushing, of course. The headband I wanted to use to hide the worst of the tangles “hurt” and kept falling out. The orange cracker crumbs in the corners of the lips and between the teeth stayed put. But best of all – my larger-sized 8 year old was wearing a shirt two sizes too small! 

She’s a late-comer to this soccer team and is still without the proper equipment or uniform. Her friend gave her a secondhand uniform shirt for pictures that shows her belly above her sister’s hand-me-down shorts. I suggested a t-shirt or tank under it, which she agreed would be a good idea (she didn’t want to have her belly showing in her picture). She decided wearing her sister’s old softball cleats and shin guards meant for a kindergartener were a must for the picture as well.

I was so sure that she was bummed about her too-small shirt and an off-color undershirt sticking out below it, that I rushed her by the local soccer store on the way to pictures to look at brand-new uniform tops. They looked so sharp and clean with a new style even! In my enthusiasm to help her feel good about herself, I grabbed a youth large, barely glanced at the price tag (!!) and said, “Wow, this really looks cool, what do you think?” 

She said, “No, mom, I’m okay with this one.” – meaning her obviously well-used top – a form-fitting youth small with an old-school style. 


When we arrived at the park, I was completely convinced Half-Pint would be self-conscious of her interesting outfit, especially when kids started showing up in almost new-looking uniforms with everything matching, hair done perfectly, faces freshly-scrubbed. 

She only knew one girl on the team, but had no problem hanging out with the other girls, blending into her new team by watching the skateboarders in the skate park. They looked completely relaxed as they laughed and commented on the action as only 8-year-old kids that barely know each other can do.

I myself hung back from the team parents grouping together near the picture place. I didn’t know any of them and God-forbid I meet them in my wrinkled Capri pants pulled hastily from the bottom (summer-stuff) drawer, showing my un-shaven, winter white, super dry and scaly legs. If that isn’t gross enough, my poor sheltered feet were celebrating a wonderfully warm spring day by airing it out in my Birkenstocks – but alas, my toe-nails weren’t celebrating…they looked hideously long with ridiculously chipped polish. I was worried that any conversations I could potentially become engaged in would lead to an inadvertent head to toe inspection.

Bottom line....I’m not quite groomed enough for making small talk in warm weather yet.

After pictures were FINALLY taken and Half-Pint and I were headed back to the car hand-in-hand (avoiding contact with other team parents of course), she seemed to have an extra spring in her step. She looked up at me with a giant smile and those darn trust-filled eyes and said, “Mom, I just love how I look right now, I look SO COOL in this!” 


I had been so SURE she was self-conscious. I was SURE she was embarrassed. I was projecting my own insecurities and assumptions on my little girl! She was FINE and CONFIDENT and even PROUD of how she looked. Shame on me for being embarrassed for her – I felt like a total heel. Lame. Lame. Lame. What does my unfounded paranoia say about me? Don’t tell me, I’m already feeling it…

I was the one who was embarrassed – for absolutely no reason it turns out. Who cares what we look like, right? We’re the ones we live with 24/7 – why not adopt my wise 8-year-old’s innocence about it all? Why can’t I get over myself for two seconds and stop worrying about the image we are projecting for others to scrutinize? Why can’t I just use those two seconds to appreciate the wonder of a carefree child spirit?

I’m incredibly humbled by my wonderful middle angel - my half-pint, who I don’t know as well as I thought I did. I have to stop spinning around like a top worried about my domestic failures and explore the thoughts and dreams that continually pour out of that little head of hers. Her confidence in herself dented my psyche like a ton of bricks never could. I’m so amazed by her and so ashamed of my lack of confidence in myself and my misdirected judgment of how my daughter works.

I clearly need to spend more time EVERYDAY in her world - especially while she still cares enough to share it with me.


  1. My 9 year old is a head taller than everyone else, already has some acne issues, and she got glasses in preschool.

    Nothing quite fits right, and she trips over her own feet a lot.

    But...she's still comfortable in her own skin. I, like you, sometimes feel uncomfortable FOR her...and this post reminds me not to do that.

    Thanks for saying it. ;)

  2. This is such an awesome post! I think I should print it out and carry it with me to remind me about my half-pint (a boy).

  3. awwwwwwwww. We all do that at one time or another. When our kids make us see through their eyes, it is a GREAT lesson. Your half-pint is BRILLIANT!

    I hope you keep that lesson in the front of your mind at all times!

  4. Wow. Incredible and fantastic.

    That is a great lesson for us all. She is amazing (and so are you for being able to see that picture so clearly).

    I pray that Penni is doing well after her surgery.

  5. What a wonderful blog! I am so glad that I found you.

    Come and stop by and let us know what your definition of a true survivor is?!

  6. Karen, you know I love this post. I agree with UTI that I may need to print this out and carry it around with me. We all do this. Project our "stuff" onto our kids...and it's always a good reminder to try and remember to take ourselves out of the equation when it comes to their self-expression.

    Now that you're back, I hope you keep writing!!!

  7. yay! you're back! hope penni is feeling much better. this was a great one, karen! it reminds me of the time my little one insisted on wearing a suit (yes, an actual suit) and tie on some field trip. i'll give it to you straight... he looked like a major dork. but i didn't push it. i knew kids would make fun of him (and they did) and i didn't want him to have to go through that. but he insisted and i relented. he was so proud of how he looked and was pleased with his decision. so... lesson learned and now the only thing i worry about is that their teeth are brushed. the rest, i chalk up to self-expression. i have raised a couple of non-conformists, and sometimes it is really hard to hold my tongue.

    so good to hear from you!!

  8. Such a wonderful post. I love kids - they're so good at just cutting through the B.S. and enjoying life.

    Why can't we all stay that way? Probably because some bully changes our thought process :-) The same "bully" that we are afraid to face with chipped toe nail polish. I soooooo get you.

    Hope Penni is doing well!!

  9. Thanks for that gentle thump in the head!! I have a magical, sensitive, introverted, fairy princess of a 7 yr. old who is extraordinarily tall for her age. I'm often projecting my insecurities (5'9" in 7th grade!) on her & neglecting to notice how much she rocks!

  10. Oh, Karen, welcome back!

    This post was wonderful. It reminds me of why I love children so much...they truly live in the here and now, enjoying the moment and not focusing on all the extra crap. At some point in our lives, we lose that innocence. I sincerely hope "half-pint" never does...she is really a blessing.

    On a personal note, I woke up this morning with hives on both eyelids (bad reaction to new eye cream!!). I was totally self-conscious all day about my ridiculously puffy eyes. Thank you for a MUCH needed "get-over-yourself" check.

    Sending prayers to Penni!! :-)

  11. just wanted to come by and say hi and to send lots of love in return for what you send me :) xxx

  12. Kari
    I've always said I learned more from being your dad than you could possibly have learned from being my kid. It's great to see the next generation doing their part to keep us older ones learning new insights about life. Although I've never thought of your middle angel as a "half-pint" -- she's bound to be the tallest of your three very special daughters!!
    Ur Dad

  13. I'm a grown woman, as is my sister, and our mother is always convinced we feel bad about our hair. Every visit begins with "I think I finally found a good hairdo for you." We just roll our eyes at each other.

  14. Karen - as always GREAT! Thanks so much for expressing what mothers everywhere think and feel. Love your writing sooooooooo much. Will see you soon. Love, Joni


Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blog Designed by : NW Designs