ANDREA PHILLPOTTS: Reflections of a bad soccer mom

We rushed into the Richmond Olympic Oval, water bottle and shin guards clattering only to find that there was only half an hour of the practice left.  We were extremely late.  Again.  My little guy ran off like a shot, happy to be running around with a soccer ball and his friends even for a short while.  I was left with much more of a burden – why am I not making the cut as a soccer mom?

That same evening when I was picking up my middle child from her practice, I noticed that she wasn’t wearing her game jersey.

There’d been an email about it and I’d, well, dropped the ball. Again.

Surrounding me were mothers and fathers (and sometimes both) who were not only on time but remembered to bring in their notices and tournament fees as well.  These were the parents that not only knew when the games were but the quickest way to get there and “would your daughter like a ride?”

I used to think my ineptitude was because I had THREE children instead of the prescribed two until I met multiple families that not only had three or more kids but also twice the activities.  I couldn’t even blame my busy work life because most families had two working parents as well.

I was uniquely unsatisfactory.

It was with extreme shame that I admitted my feelings of inadequacy to one of the Superdads.  “I feel like I’m messing up all this parenting stuff.  How do you manage to make it look so easy?”

What he answered would floor me.  He smiled and said that his wife felt the same as I did much of the time.  Despite their robust attendance at all games and stellar attitude, their family also felt overwhelmed by all the extracurriculars of their children.

This astounded me.  Could it be that there were other adults who also made mistakes in this crazy parental juggling game?  The more I asked, the more shameful confessions came out: “I left one of the carpool girls behind at dance class”, “I’ve forgotten to pack their lunch so many times that the school has me on speed dial,” and even “I forgot my husband’s birthday completely one year.”

Maybe all of us were working our darndest to give our kids the very best but messing up in small ways now and again.  Isn’t it most important that they are safe, happy, and healthy?  Perhaps stressing about occasional missed deadlines and late practices is just “sweating the small stuff.”

As I type this, I look at the clock: 7:22 am.  Time to get those lunches ready, breakfast on, and march all three off to school.

There’s only one trip to the oval tonight and an afterschool basketball practice.

Time to get back on that parental treadmill.  Ready? Set? Go!


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