Why I'm not a soccer mom

As soccer season kicks off, Susan wonders whether other parents are judging her for simply not caring enough about the sport.

Susan Goldberg Not A Soccer MomIt’s soccer season around here.

Or, more precisely, it’s “more soccer” season, since soccer season never really officially ends it these days. After a brief, weather-related hiatus, the kids moved from indoor soccer to the still-sodden, still-chilly outdoor fields. (On the evening of the first official outdoor game of the season, it hailed. As in ice pellets. Falling from the sky. In May. Not pleasant.)

In May and June, Rowan is playing in two different leagues for total of four evenings a week. Four evenings a week where dinner is early and rushed and there is much nudging to change into soccer clothes, much searching for shin pads and filling of water bottles before hopping into the car or onto bikes and go-go-go-going! to the game. I have to say, I’m getting a bit tired of the soccer grind, increasingly grateful for the rare evenings where there’s nowhere to go.

I’m — to put it gently — not so sporty, just in case I haven’t made that clear. So it’s a bit of a stretch for me to parent a kid for whom four evenings of soccer just takes barely takes the edge off. Rowan would gladly play every day, for several hours. And while I am happy that he’s so happy in the sport, there’s only so much soccer I can watch.

I’m most at home in our casual, neighbourhood league, where they serve apples and bananas after the games and where the parents stand around and trade stories and watch in resignation as the littler, less interested kids (like Isaac) abandon their games to go play on the slides and swings. This is the league where we joke about maybe slipping some wine into the grown-ups’ water bottles or some Bailey’s into that coffee, where everyone knows everyone else and their kids, and where the focus isn’t so much on the actual game as it is on the hanging out.

The other league, though, is about The Soccer. And so, if I slip away to read my book or chat with a friend or sometimes just drop Rowan off and then go do a bunch of errands or go for a walk (or, if, just as an example, I bring my notebook to a practice and, say, sit with it at the car and write a blog post about how little joy I get from standing around in a field for an hour) I sometimes feel the weight of the judgment of other parents in their camp chairs, so intent on the game.

And maybe (likely), they aren’t judging me at all. Maybe they’re just confused as to my apathy, my obvious lack of interest. Or maybe it’s all in my head. Still, I sometimes feel as though I should be a better soccer mom, the kind of mother who’s on hand to view all my kid’s goals, who understands more than the basic, “get the ball in the other guys’ goal” machinations of the game, the kind who yells things like “Spread out, guys! Move on up the field!” with a certain sense of authority. The kind of mother who cares (or at least cares more) about the game.

But I don’t. I care about my kid, and I care about his happiness and well-being, but I care about soccer about as much as Rowan cares about quilting or mid-century modern architecture or that quinoa salad recipe I want to try or the Styles section of the Sunday New York Times or the next episode of Nurse Jackie. Rowan feels not a whit of guilt about not caring about any of the stuff that interests me, and so, most of the time, I do my best not to feel too guilty about not having any chance at all of winning the title of World’s Best Soccer Mom.

1 Comment