Decisions that matter and those that change everything

Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy, a decision made after years of anguished thought, one that changed my life.  Words to some, but a 2 year-long process that changed everything about how I think, how I make decisions and almost everything about my life.  The entire stream of thought that started this blog as I worked through my decisions to have surgery over 3 years ago.  I truly do believe that the process changed my life as well as my families.

Over time these pages became my thoughts on life, parenting and more.  I have never changed the name because no matter the thoughts shared, they have always been about “decisions” in some way.  I mean that is all life is right?  A long road paved in decisions both good and bad.

As your kids grow they become involved in activities, sports and otherwise and you grow to trust the adults, often parents who also have children involved.  You tell yourself that they are doing what is best for all of the kids as well as your child.  This is our story with soccer.  The girls have both played since 5 years old.  Issues began to show themselves last year with our older daughter’s team but to be honest at the time I was in the midst of the Town Council election race and could not refused to see it  act on the issues.

11928724_10203867858291906_7063304232702176066_nIt became clear the development of my child was not important to those in charge of the team.  She was not having fun, the team was not growing and something had to give.  In our town many demand loyalty to the “township”.  I am loyal only to those I love and those loyal to myself and those I love.  It became clear it was time for a decision,

Decisions, stay within our township and play for a team put together as an after thought,

Decisions, Play for other townships who we once competed against(a few wanted Meg because she was one of the strongest full-time goalkeepers in the area, a position she never wanted to play full-time)

Decisions, go totally outside the established township societal rules and try out for a private club team.

The long process of making this decision sounds so silly to some but when the will, thoughts and feelings of an 11-year-old girl are involved, absolutely nothing is easy.  This was a very difficult decision, she would not know anyone, she would play outside of our community.  Since she was not ever provided playing time on the field (outside of goal) she was at a clear disadvantage.  We showed up for a training and after only 45 minutes my girl was accepted to the team, a private club team.  The interesting feedback from the evening, she would be expected to play all aspects and was too young to be limited to any one aspect of the game but that they would train her.  The decision was clear and made immediately.  My girl was thrilled.

For the last 2 months we have practiced and trained all guided under the eyes of her new coach.  Scrimmages and 3 v 3 competitions to prepare for the season brought us to this past weekend.  Our first tournament to prepare for the season.  With Megan’s background and skill she is still the starting keeper for the team and started all 3 games during the first half.  In the second half of the first game she took the field  as a mid-fielder playing a mixed offensive/defensive position and pulled her weight.  It was the second game where my head spun!  Midway through the second half  I saw my girl substituted into the game as a Forward.  I figured she was there just to give someone a water break and that it would be a short shift but then something happened.  Meg had only been in the game for about 2-3 minutes when her team began moving down the field.  A beautiful pass from a teammate right to the center of the field where Meg was waiting and with one touch Megan launched the ball into the top of the net for her first goal ever.

Meg jumped so high it became clear to her teammates how special this was for her.  Hugs and high fives were exchanged.  Pride, confidence, development and teamwork.  Our decision was clearly the right one.  I have never seen my daughter practice so hard and enjoy the game so much.  She looks forward to practice and can not wait for the next game.  They will not win every game but they have heart, fight and a will to succeed.  If life were a book I would have to say that this chapter is still being written but the first few pages look like one great story!

To travel or not to travel, that is the question!

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.

Image 1For 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 :-).

Holidays and tournaments

Columbus day Weekend and our new lives of travel soccer tournaments for every holiday. Megan’s team had two games scheduled for yesterday.  They have been a bit tough to watch.  They have only won one game and that was the first one they ever played together way back at the labor day tournament.  Since then it has been all down hill with some of the losses being signed sealed and delivered before the half.  There is a rule in the league since they are so young,  there can not be more than a 6 point gap.  Almost every team we have played have had to instruct their players to stop shooting on us since we have lost most games by 6-0, 6-1.

They are young and learning the game.  We like the coach and how he deals with the girls. Before practice on Monday this week, coach came to me to see if I had changed my mind about Megan playing goalkeeper.  Initially I had said no  because I did not want to see her get hurt.  She plays piano beautifully and I could not stand it if those little fingers were injured or worse kicked in the head.   I was out numbered, Megan was dying to try it, my husband thought she would be great back there and coach felt she would be stronger than the little girls currently in goal.

I said she could try it so with 30 minutes total practice in goal at Thursday’s practice, yesterday she suited up and took to the goal.  I have to say it was an exciting game but so nerve-racking!  She did great and we WON! 2-1.  More importantly is the thrill on my little girls face and  the confidence earned by the team.  She played the entire time in both games, the second did not go as well but they get another shot at it today.

When we were leaving the fields for the day, coach whispered to my husband that they found the new starting goalie for the team.  We went out to the sporting goods store for better gloves but of course no one carries anything in stock anymore so at home I placed an order for gloves with spines in the finger that supposedly protect from hyper extension. If she is going to play back there I have to do what I can to protect my baby.  Would a football helmet be too much?

To celebrate a nice tournament day and the big position move we went out to dinner.  Instead of the normal diner or chain restaurant we went a little higher scale.  The girls were so excited they both put on dresses and jewelry.  Just a little high maintenance :-).

The season is finally changing but it is in the blink of an eye. When we went to the tournament yesterday morning,  the season felt like late spring.  Warm, bright sun and a slight breeze.  There was a 2 hour gap between games where the parents set up a base camp.  We had food, games and just enjoyed a nice day together.  (I am sure the munchkins and soft pretzels did not help their play in game 2 :-)).  By the time we got home we all had red cheeks since no one thought about sunscreen.  By dinner time last night we were reminded that fall was here with a drastic drop in the temperature and by this morning a smack in the face by fall with temps in the high 40’s and rain expected.  One more game today.  Going to be a chilly one!