When we think of soccer moms, an athletic-attired suburban mom, driving an SUV when taking her kids to soccer games and other related activities comes to mind. There is so much more to them than that.
Having my life turned upside down by sons and daughters who play soccer— or football as my kids always say—was truly unexpected. I remember showing up to a football tournament for the first time, wearing wedges, a cup of coffee in hand, feeling nervous, but cheerfully greeting everyone a good morning. I thought to myself “Wow, this is so exciting.” Well, that went south really fast. As soon as I realized that we were not armed with lawn chairs, umbrellas, a cooler full of ice, drinks, snacks, and most importantly, sneakers. Unbeknownst to me, we were going to be in the sweltering heat for an entire day (and I am not an outdoor kind of person)!
Thankfully, a group of soccer moms—and dads—saved the day by giving up seats for us and sharing their deliciously prepared homemade food. As well as tried and tested tips that every soccer parent should know, starting with sunblock. Looking back today, I also realize that as ironic as it may seem, that was also when I vowed that I will embrace soccer motherhood and go all in.
Through this journey, I saw that successful players always have supportive parents behind them. These are the people who will instantly give up weekends and vacations to make way for games. They show up religiously, even if it means beating traffic, shuttling back and forth between venues, and roughing it out for hours in the heat or in the rain. Not to mention the things they have to give up because of financial factors involved. All because that’s just how it is when one has children who are athletes.
The harsh realities of watching from the bleachers
The most challenging things soccer moms deal with, however, have nothing to do with the actual sport. That’s what the dads and coaches are for. It’s everything else that is connected to it. How to deal with a loss, an unfair call, a rough opponent, nursing an injury, staying determined, etc. It’s when their child goes to a game, giving it all they’ve got, and still falling short. Times when the referee blows the final whistle and realizing their son or daughter was on the bench the entire time. It’s when a goalkeeper’s mother clenches her fists with her heart pounding so fast, as she storms the heavens with prayers, while balls are flying at her child; and that heartbreaking feeling when her child is not able to save a goal.
It’s when a striker’s mother sees the look of defeat on her child’s face with tears running down their cheeks after missing a winning penalty kick. It’s when they have to stop themselves from running across the field and confronting the opponent who injured their kid. And most of all, it’s when a mom sees a player fall to the ground, and her heart stops beating and a cold sweat breaks out when she realizes that it is her child the medics are running towards. Processing all these feelings is difficult. But staying calm and strong for their child is a whole other story, which takes both grit and grace.
The soccer family
Thankfully, soccer moms are never alone. In “soccer momdom,” it’s all for one and one for all. The entire team becomes everyone’s adopted children. There is an overwhelming amount of care, pride, and love for all the players, regardless of whose child it is. No one keeps count or compares one kid to another. As a parent who has kids engaging in this particular kind of contact sport on a daily basis, I feel at ease knowing that whenever I am not around, someone will always be looking out for my kids. Someone will always be rooting for them.
The greatest lessons any soccer player can learn is on the pitch. With the right kind of guidance, they learn discipline, time management, diplomacy, sportsmanship, patience, camaraderie, and most of all, commitment. But their greatest gain is the brotherhood or sisterhood formed among their teammates. Overall, it enriches them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
For soccer moms or soccer parents in general, the biggest perk of this whole gig goes beyond the pitch. It’s about lifelong friendships and family. My husband and I are very fortunate to have met some really amazing people because of our kids’ football life. We’ve shared everything from potlucks to victories and defeats, all the way to bingo and karaoke. The peace of mind I have, knowing that there will always be a group of individuals who understand exactly what I’m going through—good and bad—is priceless. Being around such good-natured people have got to be better than any kind of therapy.