Friday, September 2, 2011

Soccer Mom

My baby boy started soccer yesterday.

Or rather this giant, grown-up KID started soccer yesterday. My baby Landon wasn't there.

This is our first foray into the world of organized sports and it has already been a learning experience for me (what? you need equipment? aren't kids expensive enough without extra accessories?!). I was not one for the land sports. I endured a season each of soccer and tee-ball at ages 5 and 6 before finding swimming (thank God). The most I ever moved in tee-ball was when a bee stung me on third base, and when I asked my dad whether he thought Landon would be a better soccer player than me, my proud, loving father replied:

If he stands on the field and moves three steps in any direction he has already surpassed his Mom’s soccer skills! If he actually kicks the ball in any direction he is ready to go Pro relative to his Mom. Turns out his Mom was literally a fish out of water on the soccer fields.


(I didn't know shin guards went underneath the socks, because that makes no sense.)

JP was a soccer star through high school (as he was at every other sport), so Landon has that going for him. Plus, the point of this season is just to see how he interacts with these older kids (thanks to his July 15 birthday and the July 31 league cut-off, he is the youngest kid on his team by 5 months) that he'll likely be starting kindergarten with next year. And to have fun and eat game day orange slices, of course.

We told him to listen to his coach and he did so with gravity and a serious intent. His sister on the other hand, flagrantly violated all the rules and took off with an orange cone (several orange cones, actually). She also kept running in to the playing field, utterly unconcerned about the bigger kids speeding past her.

JP and I are the only dual-parent working couple on our little team, so that's interesting. All of my friends in Austin work, all of my friends at work work (obviously), and all of my mom friends at daycare work, so I've actually never been around the SAHM set. They all know each other. I was on the outside, and I'm not even sure how that happened because I was in shorts and a tank top with no blackberry in sight! JP and I both made it to this first practice, but I had resigned myself to the fact our nanny would be taking Landon to the others (we'd be at all the games, I swear). I'm realizing this whole working parent thing is about to get a whole lot harder as our kids get bigger and busier.

But then the practice time got moved back an hour to 6:00 and I was more relieved than I expected to know I could make them all. Because while I think it's perfectly okay that we're not at every practice, I'm glad we don't have to do that quite yet. Watching a pack of 4-year-olds try to dribble a soccer ball around an orange cone that a 1-year-old sibling spectator is trying to steal is a pretty awesome way to spend 45 minutes of your Thursday evening. Almost as awesome as tucking your personal 4-year-old in bed later that night (with his "things that protect my legs," aka shin guards, tucked in bed with him) and being able to answer yes every time he asks, "did you see me kick the ball?!" With all my travel lately, it was nice to just be there, chasing after my cone-stealing baby and proudly watching my big kid listen very carefully to his first coach.


  1. We've never done the organized sports thing - I'm a complete idiot with anything athletic, having never played a sport in my life outside of gym class (and "played" is a very loose interpretation of what I did in gym class). I actually still don't exercise at 32 - not really into the whole physical activity thing...

    Ah, the SAHM thing. I had earlier exposure than you due to pre-school (we didn't use daycare) and if any group can make a working mom feel like a terrible parent it's SAHMs. Wait until elementary school - then you meet these people called "Class Mother" and "PTA Mother" and the teachers expect mothers to volunteer. The working Mom with the Blackberry is automatically seen as an uncaring oddity. Thankfully, at work, I meet some working Moms! Otherwise, I'd totally feel inadequate all the time compared to the SAHM. And a little secret I've learned is that once school starts, the SAHM often doesn't spend significantly more time with her kids than the working Mom. The reason all the SAHMs know each other is they're constantantly on the lookout for a playdate so they don't have to watch kids 24-7. Also, they feel just as inadequate as us working Moms do about how hard it is to keep house, put nutritious homemade meals on the table, etc.

  2. P.S. Your description of soccer with the kids is totally adorable. It almost makes me want to sign my kids up too. Almost.

  3. Charlie hated soccer so much it was comical! Maybe he'll be into swimming. We can hope.

    He does look awfully grown up and so does Claire.

    We had my dad take Charlie to almost every soccer practice and then Ryan and I met there after work. I also felt kind of out of place running around in my teaching clothes and shoes and I only work part time! I'm sure it's not a working/staying at home divide that's causing the distance, it might just be people who already know each other. If I knew the group better I'd suggest you show up with a pitcher of sangria next time and make some instant friends!

  4. Becca: Please don't suggest alcohol at these events. These moms are going to have to drive these babies home. I don't like to sound preachy but there are more appropriate times for alcohol and childrens' sports events just arn't the best time. Besides, who wants to be accepted by people that require alcohol to make friends?

  5. I wish that people like LA would avoid stereotyping SAHMs. I am a lawyer who made the choice to stay home with my children during the day and work part-time in the evenings after my second child was born. Having worked full-time while my son was an infant and toddler, I know how hard it is to balance work and home life, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for my lawyer/mommy friends who do a fabulous job parenting their children.

    I think that when people like LA feel inadequate around SAHMs, it's probably from pressure they're putting on themselves, and not so much from SAHMs actually passing judgment on them. I tend to agree with Becca that feeling like an "outsider" probably comes from just not knowing each other yet.

    LL - I definitely appreciate your approach to writing about work/life balance. You do a great job of writing about how you are making great choices for your family without attacking people who have made different choices!

  6. LL, The kids look SO BIG! Landon is so focused and Claire remains a cutie at large! I also had the same thought about those shin guards being on the outside of the leg! Forgive me for addressing your reader above and delete if you'd rather not have this post hijacked...Dear LA…please don't judge so fellow reader. As a SAHM, it is my sincere pleasure to be the 'room mother,' the mom who volunteers to make photocopies of worksheets for teachers, work the book fair, listen to kids as they practice reading skills, go on the field trips, bake brownies, carpool both ways for kids of both working guardians/parents, and always have the playmate at my house because I can, and I won't ever judge you for your decision/desire/need to have a job. I'm happy to help in the ways I can. Maybe I'll need your help one day? I can't donate a lot of money to the schools but I can donate my time. It's beneficial to get to know us SAHMs…we know your teachers, your school system, your extracurricular programs, your neighborhoods and your kids. This WM/SAHM debate is so tiresome already! Be happy because you've made the best decision for YOUR family, as I have for mine.

  7. "I'm realizing this whole working parent thing is about to get a whole lot harder as our kids get bigger and busier."

    Truer words were never spoken. But somehow it all seems to work itself out in the end, SAHM or not.

    PS Do what I do - work part-time. In theory, it's the ideal situation, to be able to do both. In reality ... not so sure about that. I don't think there is any ideal solution really, we all just do what we can do.

  8. Honestly, LA's comments are sad and disheartening. And this is coming from ME, who has put her foot in her mouth more than once when it comes to this entire topic.

    Overall, I think it is important for ALL mothers/parents/whatever to realize that some folks are just shyer than others. I am a SAHM and I am not shy - I have no problem approaching fellow parents when I realize our kids are the same age or in similar activities. In the past few weeks since my son started kindergarten, I have met a crapton of other parents, simply because I take the time to introduce myself - I certainly don't gauge whether a parent is staying home or working! Conversely, I have had SAHM friends who ARE shy and have had trouble making friends because it is hard for them to put themselves "out there."

    Also, as a SAHM, I can report that it is really, really hard to get together with working parents. One of my neighbors doesn't get home until 4:30 - I would love to hang out with her more, but it is hard to get our schedules synced up by the time we do dinner/homework, etc. It's not a matter of me judging her because GAWD, she works, it's just a matter of limited hours in our days. And by the time the weekend rolls around, her family is really busy.

    And! Our school puts pressure on PARENTS to volunteer - not just the mothers. Since it cost only $75 to enroll my kid into school, I feel it is my responsibility to help the school out in some way. My son's teacher has even asked parents to just take stuff home to prepare (i.e. last week, I brought home booklets to assemble for her.) Any parent could do that - working or SAHP or whatever.

    Finally, I LOVE "watching" my kids 24/7. That's why I do this. :-) Playdates or not. Hee!

  9. Slight change of topic--I'm curious to hear about how you will discipline Claire. I remember from your Landon discipline post that you started giving him time outs around 18 months, and Claire is about that age. I'll be interested to hear how the techniques that you used with Landon work on Claire, given how different they are, and what you do to adapt.

  10. Although I am the first person I know to jump in and tell people not to jusge one another, I think possibly that LA's post may have been misinterpreted. SAHMs can make you feel bad because of inner pressure and guilt not outward pressure or guilt. You can see the moms who are doing things you would like to and feel bad not because they are judging you or doing something to make you feel that way. You can feel that inner sting that wonders if you made the right decision. Meeting Room Mom and PTA Mom doesn't neccesarily mean that those moms are doing anything to hurt your feelings, it may just mean they are showing you an alternate path than you are on and you wonder if it is better or more correct for you. I know my issues are internal and other ladies are not doing anything to make me feel that way, but their pressence can stir it up. As long as you are secure in your decisions and not stereotyping or labeling others you are on the right path.

  11. Wow, He looks like a REAL kid! And I was totally the kid that signed up for soccer just so I could get the good snacks. My mom did not let us have junk food, so I got it from the post-game treats brought by other parents. I quit soccer as soon as we were asked to play "positions" on the field--too much to think about.

    The comments regarding SAHM/working moms are interesting. My daughter is only 14 months, and I am working but my husband stays home, so we have some role reversal going on. He is trying to create a social group with the stay at home moms I became friends with on maternity leave, but is having some funny challenges connecting with the other moms. He keeps trying, and his stories are amusing--such as "How do I join their conversation about how their husbands never help around the house?"

  12. I see now that I stirred up some controversy. mwc liz definitely summarized what I was saying - a lot of it is internal and you can't help but feel inadequate as a working Mom (at least I can't) because room mom/PTA mom etc. are doing all of the things you wish you could do. It makes you more aware of what you give up by working. Also, as Kelli said, the school puts pressure to volunteer but at least for me, that pressure makes me feel like crap. I have to make excuses. As lovely as it sounds to cut papers up for the teacher, I often work after the kids go to bed and if I'm not working, that's laundry time, chore time, etc. So no, it isn't that easy for a working Mom to pitch in at school. Many of us simply don't have the time (I work 60 hours a week or more and commute 90 minutes each day). It is doubly tough to face this recognition that you don't see your kids as much as you'd like along with the fact that you're out of touch compared to the SAHMs when you're ambivalent about working in the first place. For many working Moms, the paycheck isn't optional.

    Anyhow, I definitely meant to offer input to LL as a fellow BIGLAW mom, not to attack SAHMs/stir up controversy among LL's readers! The SAHM world is very hard to navigate as an outsider.

  13. LA…you said…"feel inadequate as a working Mom (at least I can't) because room mom/PTA mom etc. are doing all of the things you wish you could do" There are days I wish I could look at my graduate degrees hanging on a wall in my corporate office rather than stacked with numerous mementos in a box in my basement! We all feel it! ((LA))