What makes me smile? Maybe it is watching my 6-year-old score 4 goals in a soccer game. Or listening to that same beautiful girl read me the book she took out of the library. This same little girl who used to think it was funny to look at a color and tell me the wrong answer and laugh.
For years I worked tirelessly hoping to achieve success. The kind of success that the powers that be measure in scorecards and pay bonuses on and yes base you overall job on. I smoked heavily and stressed even more heavily. I lost friends along the way because my priorities were often misguided. If the scorecards or the paychecks were the measure I was successful. There was a problem, I was not happy.
Today I experienced pure happiness. It started with a 6 year old’s soccer game and my baby controlling the soccer field. The coolest part was actually in the car before we arrived when she explained that one of the other little girl had not scored a goal yet this year so she intended to help her finally achieve that goal today. How awesome is that? My little girl concerned about the feeling of a friend and planning how to help.
Megan had a different experience today. Since the beginning of the soccer season she has been the starting (and only) goalie of her team. Today due to some political silliness and forgetfulness she was made to sit for the first 10 minutes of the game. So a small step back first, when my daughter was asked to try out the goalkeeper position last year I was not a fan. She was interested so I agreed. It has not always been easy and there is a TON of extra pressure playing the position. Since she has decided she enjoys it, my husband and I have invested in her success. She attends goalkeeper camps that typically run about 8 weeks at a time and add an extra cost of anywhere from $170-$200 each to our lives. She is about to attend the fourth of such camps in 2 weeks which would put the overall investment at 32 hours and roughly $720. So when my child misses one practice in order to fit everything in and enjoy Halloween and some one complains forcing my child to sit for 10 minute the mama bear in me rears up just a bit. Since I understand the position of the coach I bite my tongue and suck it up and deal with the situation.
So back to real-time, fourth quarter game tied 1-1 and a call of hand ball inside the 18 yard line on our team. A direct kick straight on my baby with no help. As a parent I am of course concerned with the safety of my child first. As a parent on the team I worry about the possible goal that is sure to go in setting up only the second loss of the season. The time seemed to slow to a crawl. The referee talked to my daughter, words I could not hear from the side line. The talk seemed to last for minutes and all the while there was silence from the parents. Sitting in our local park maybe it was just me but there was purse silence. Once finished talking to Megan the ref went to the other girls and pushed them all back behind the 18 yard line. Time continued to stand still. He positioned himself and finally blew his whistle. As I held my breath the play finally started. The young lady from the other team took a minute and stepped to the ball launching it to the top of the net. My baby reach up knocking the ball down and with the ball bouncing in front of the goal line, a live ball, all 12 girls from each side rushed into the net attempting to take control of the ball. My baby totally unphased by the rush dropped to the ground covering the ball putting an end to the play. She grabbed the ball, ran to one end of the 18 and dropped a punt to mid field. A skill learned though many hours of camps and practice.
Our entire team players and families cheered but only my husband and I could fully understand just how great this was. See, my daughter has never been a natural athlete. Quiet the contrary she is a book-worm would much prefer to sit and read all day. It has taken many hour of work stress and sometimes tears to get this far. She has dedicated herself to improving her game. To see her leadership on the field taking control and basically telling the others “hey follow me I have this”, as a parent you can not help but feel pride. Is there any better definition of a leader?
So as a parent, to sit on the side lines watching a child who does not even realize that due to circumstances beyond her control she is being punished, step into a game and take the team onto her shoulders as a true leader, well if that does not instill pride into a mother what does?
I am not typically one to read magazine articles but I just found myself chuckling at an article in the “Philadelphia” magazine. The article is about a parent struggling with the decision to sign up a child for travel soccer or not. Oh how I can relate to this parent!
When I was a child my parents were divorced. I was raised by a single working mother who made it clear that after a hard week at work she would not spend her free time carting us around to sporting events. If we wanted to participate in anything outside of school it would need to be with a friend whose parent was willing to take us also. This may sound rough but now as a parent I understand (most of the time).
Many would say that my husband and I over compensate at times. On top of school, my children both take music lessons, karate and play sports. I remember a few years ago attempting to arrange for parties on the weekend and having many friends reply with “I am sorry but we have (fill in sport)”. I would be left feeling a bit annoyed and would swear that our life would not be like that. I was dead set that we would not have our lives controlled by any sport.
That all changed one night last summer when we received a phone call from Megan’s parks and rec soccer coach explaining that he had made the decision to coach at the travel level and that he was hoping to see Megan try out. I was not thrilled with the idea but she really wanted to do it. Of course we allowed it and the rest is history. I am now the parent of the starting, (and only) goalkeeper on the team. The girls practice twice a week and our Saturdays are spent on the fields. Holiday weekends mean tournament play and for our child extra camps which cost extra money to improve her skills in-goal.
For some it sounds just awful and I will admit it is not for everyone. For our family, it seems right. We enjoy watching our girls play and improve. We have bonded with many “team” families. I also believe that the competition that comes with the travels program is very important. We live in a world of trophies for all, everybody plays and no winners or losers. For the young ones that is fine but there comes a time in life when it is time to learn reality. Life is filled with ups and downs, wins and losses. It is up to parents and coaches to teach that winning is not everything but showing up prepared to “play” is a must be it sport, school, work or life in general . Healthy competition as a child helps to prepare for the push and pull that they will experience through life.
I guess as time has passed I have become a “soccer mom”. I do refuse to put one of those soccer ball magnets on my car. We all have to draw the line somewhere :-).
The first official day of summer. Megan has a birthday party today and Madison and I plan on running some errands. The weather is beautiful although you can tell it is going to be very warm later.
Megan and I decided to make use of our summer to improve our conditioning/health. During the later part of her soccer season the coach recognized that the girls were lacking in their conditioning and added a half mile run to every practice, a quarter-mile at the beginning and end twice a week. Megan struggled to say the least. Since my surgery I have tried to stay active and eat right but the hustle and bustle of things lately I have not been as vigilant as I could be.
I set some basic goals for the summer, I would like to lose another 10 pounds and I would like to get Megan into better condition so she is more comfortable come the beginning of the season. She will attend a few soccer camps over the summer and we have agreed to start jogging a few times a week. NOW, as I began to think about this weeks ago it made perfect sense. It would be good for both of us and it would be nice one on one time together. When I was a much younger person I was a runner, kind of, I mean I was on the track team for a few years. I was alright but to be honest I hated running. Early in high school I hurt me knee which ended my track career. I am not to sure at this point if it was really hurt that bad at the time or if it was just a great excuse to stop. I still have knee issues so as to not create more torment in my mind about my youth I will stick to my “I hurt my knee story” ;-).
This morning Megan and I set out for our first jog of the summer. I had it measured out, 2 laps around the block would be a half of a mile. We started by dressing in our cute running gear, did some stretching and out the door we went. I talked to her about form, proper breathing, we looked great! Down the street we went, I see the corner, holy shit I am not going to make it! Yes, sadly I could not even make it around half of the first lap. I started to walk, reminded her I was 41 and did have major surgery a year ago and, and, and but in reality WOW! Meg finished the first lap and continued to the second…what a good girl! I did a few minutes on the elliptical machine and committed to at least continue to try.
What an eye-opening morning. It is still good time with my big girl and I promise that I will continue to jog,walk, and whine just a little.