I’ve been a soccer mom for two years now, spending one evening and one Saturday morning a week hanging out at the Jeep Rogers YMCA in NE Columbia. We started when my daughter was in kindergarten and now we are looking forward to signing our three-year-old up in the fall. It has been fun for the whole family and stirs up fond memories of my own childhood years in soccer.
For someone who wondered if she would ever be part of the mommy club, being a soccer mom is a dream come true. But watching my daughter’s practices and games has also taught me some things about motherhood and parenting that I want to share with all of you.
Everyone’s Learning the Game
All the kids at this stage are learning the game. Even the games are more like extended practice sessions with the coaches reminding the children of the rules mid-play. The same is true of us moms. Whatever stage of parenting we are at, we are still learning how to do it, some for the first time, and some all over again. And just like the coaches are easy on the kids when they use their hands or get off-sides, because they are still learning, we need to give grace to ourselves and to each other.
We’re All on the Same Team
On the YMCA soccer teams, everyone gets the same two colors of shirt, and each game the teams are told who is “home,” who is “away” and what color shirt to wear. It’s not uncommon, though, for one team to be short players and to “borrow” one or two players from the other team for the game. No one cares, including the kids, because it generally means more play time and a chance to make new friends. Moms, too, find themselves on different teams based on all the different parenting styles we prefer — how we birth our kids, feed them, carry them, discipline them, educate them, train them, and entertain them. But whatever your style, the other team is not the enemy — and you never know when you might be swapping your shirt for the other team’s color for a time — and possibly make some new friends in the process. So be kind.
When One Person Does Well, We All Win
Some of my favorite moments at the soccer games is when someone makes an amazing play and scores or blocks a goal or has a great assist. Everyone cheers on both teams, because skill is something to be celebrated, regardless of what team you are on. We could do with more of this kind of cheerleading of fellow moms, celebrating each other’s accomplishments rather than feeling threatened because someone else is strong where we are weak.
Celebrate other people’s victories, even if you weren’t the one who made the winning goal.
The Coach is Just Another Parent
I love that the soccer coaches are volunteer parents, not paid professionals. Sure, they know more about soccer, but that doesn’t necessarily make them experts. At the core, they’re just parents stepping up to lead and are committed to helping others grow. Moms need coaches, too, sometimes, and we can all step up to that role in some way. Each of us has some kind of strength that we can use to encourage another mom, and each of us has weaknesses where we can use some coaching as well. But no one has it all together, and you don’t need to in order to reach out a helping hand to others.
You Don’t Have to Keep Score to Have Fun
I have no idea who won our last game. It didn’t matter because the kids were learning and cheering each other on and having fun — probably more fun than if we did keep score. Before anyone gets on my case, I am not anti-competition. I am all for the kind of competition that we need to push ourselves to excellence in areas such as athletics, academics, business, innovation, etc. Competition is a healthy part of life. But not everything is a competition.
You know the old adage,“it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game?” It’s true in soccer, and it’s true in parenting. It’s not how you stack up against other parents on social media, or in your workplace, or at your child’s school, or your mom group, or in the blogosphere. It’s how well you live a life of integrity before your children and how well you love them that counts.
And those are some lessons this soccer mom is going to hold onto.
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