My kids play soccer and it’s really fun. But sometimes my kids playing soccer makes me want to drive my car off a bridge.
OK. Soccer. Fun. Driving off a bridge.
Before we get all dark, let’s start with the fun stuff. It’s a great sport. It teaches teamwork, encourages skillful athleticism, and it’s a great community sport. I played for four confusing years from the age of 5 to 9—confusing because I don’t recall really knowing more about the technical aspects of the game besides getting the ball into the other team’s goal.
My sons are both athletic, but my FirstBorn definitely shows more natural interest in sports. My Little Man is playing soccer for the very first time this season.
As someone who loves sports and is very competitive, I love watching them play and I try to not cheer too loud, but sometimes my ex has to remind me to chill when I’m doing celebration dances on the sidelines after a goal. I’m just an excited observer; what can I say? I love seeing the kids get all fired up when they want to win and I love seeing them planning and maneuvering to score and defend.
So how do we get from all of that fun to me picturing my car sinking into a river and me happy that I am in it rather than maintaining my existence as the mom of kids who play soccer?
Practice twice a week is hard. It just is. That’s a lot of nights of the week spent in a park. And if you have two kids which I happen to, that means four nights if practices are held on different nights, which ours happen to be. And—I’m not done complaining—if you’re a divorced mom who only gets her kids half of the week, chances are the majority of nights you have your kids, you are in a park in the evening. This means (don’t you roll your eyes at me) you have to make afternoon/evening plans near the park. OR you have to eat/have plans quite late in the evening. Homework, leisure time–everything–gets shifted with practice this many nights a week. Soccer moms don’t care. They love it. That’s not me.
Games on my weekend day with my kids is hard. I get my boys weekends. One of those days of the weekend now belongs to the soccer gods who determine my life based on an algorithm of scheduling. Sometimes my boys have games that require us to be at the park at 7:30 a.m., which is its own kind of torture. Then the other kid’s game isn’t until 2 p.m. Or it’ll be at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., which is not quite enough time to go anywhere and do anything. Argh!!! It’s soccer madness! Soccer moms relish the breaks. They juggle it all perfectly and have snacks and activities prepared for those breaks. They are prepared and positive. That’s NOT me.
The Sabbath. We observe the Sabbath as a religious commandment that is spiritually significant and legally binding. We are part of a secular league, which does not allow me to observe the Sabbath, and it’s very difficult for me. I typically go to the games and home, but there are times when killing time between games takes me places where I have not been in many many years as someone who chooses to try and observe the Sabbath in ways that work for my family. Sure, the Sabbath comes whether or not I “observe” it, but it doesn’t feel right to not have Sabbath meals with friends and to hang out at home like we tend to on Shabbat. It’s something I feel weird bringing up to my kids because I don’t want them to feel guilty. And this is where our family is right now. It’s hard. Soccer moms don’t observe the Sabbath. At least that’s how I’ve framed it in my head.
So where does this leave me?
I am doing what I tell my sons to do when things are hard. I am finding the good in it, I am focusing on the positive, and I am reminding myself that nothing is forever. The good is that I am meeting some lovely parents. One of the moms left high school as a sophomore to start community college and travel and see the world. I got to tell my homeschooled boys that even non-homeschooled people sometimes take that route. She’s also vegan. And her son is so kind to my sweet boy who is new to all of this soccer stuff. Another mom has a party planning company. That’s so neat! One dad is an actor, and he’s really funny. You get to know people’s kids. My older son’s team is basically all Israeli, so I translate the things they yell at their kids in Hebrew for the non-Hebrew speakers in the stands, and we laugh a lot.
I rarely get to socialize with non-Hollywood people anymore; it’s fun to be among people who have lives so different from the actors and writers and producers I am usually around.
I get to sit in the uncomfortableness of having my schedule and life turned upside down for this soccer season. I’ll live. The season ends around December. This is not forever. I am embarrassed that I don’t get to celebrate Shabbat with quiet and calm and peace. But I also know I am human. And I’m not a bad Jew. I’m just a human one.
I love sports. I love soccer. And I love the skills my boys are learning. And it seems this mama is learning some skills, too. I may not be a soccer mom, but I am a mom of boys who love soccer. And you know what? With all of its complexity and annoying me, I love it, too.