Tag Archives: soccer

Confessions of a suburb mom

I am not a philanthropist, not a CEO, not a socialite. I’m just a suburb mom, and I have some confessions to make. Frankly, I’m a little tired of the pressure put on our families to succeed and surpass. At what, I don’t know. Our city? The world at large? Whatever this lofty goal is, it’s exhausting. And it’s cramping my style. I have a few bones to pick with suburban culture.IMG_3330

1. I don’t think I should feel embarrassed to walk to the bus stop in my pajamas. We all wear them. And our kids go to school early. None of us moms wake up with make-up on and hair done. Just because I’m not magazine-ready at 7 am, that doesn’t mean I won’t be doing anything today. I don’t even have elementary kids anymore, but this still bothers me. Pajama moms, I salute you! My embarrassment has subsided now because I usually drive my kids to school and no one can see my pajama pants or bed hair from outside the car. I will shower, I promise. I just don’t think I need to impress the other moms who are on their way to work already.

I work. Just later. And sometimes in my pajamas.

2. Swim team is not an essential element to summer. There, I said it. My kids play sports all year, so we like to take the summer off. No competitions, no practices, no schedules. Except for swimming lessons when they were little, of course, because it would be a crime if my kids couldn’t swim. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to explain it. Obviously, the pressure is still getting to me because here I am putting it in a blog. My kids didn’t do swim team. Yet another great American tragedy. They didn’t do cotillion, either. Gasp!

3. I like to do my own housework. I do. It’s a confession because the truly successful suburb moms hire out all their housework. Lawn guy, handyman, dry cleaning, maid service, day care, spa, hair salon, dog groomer, pool guy, nanny, take-out. But not me. I iron. I cook. I dust. I weed. Don’t get me wrong–sometimes I resent it. But mostly, I just resent feeling feeling provincial because I do it. I actually like laundry. You wash it, dry it, fold it, ta-da! Something got accomplished today. Something that can’t be compared to someone else, that will never be discussed because it’s too insignificant. 

4. I’m a soccer mom, but I’m not a soccer mom.  (You know the difference if your kid plays soccer!) I don’t like soccer moms and dads. They are birthed sometime after their kids stop chasing butterflies on the field and before their children actually become skilled. Soccer parents’ behavior gets incrementally worse until their little soccer stars become older teenagers and threaten them into silence. But until that time, moms and dads are screaming at refs and calling fouls they don’t understand. And their kids are learning that life should always treat them fairly and that performing is critical in their relationship to their parents. Hence, the next thing I have to confess.

5. I am so over the competitive spirit of the suburbs. It’s akin to Olympic fever. It amasses intense training, strategy, and celebration, all with a sense of family patriotism and urgency to win now because we might not get another chance. Kids are placed on course to achieve, plain and simple. The future seems to hang in the balance over every event–school, music, sports, manners. Parents pick the kind of college they want their kids to attend, and they plan backwards, all the way into preschool. Every kid must have a sport, an art, a premiere education, a social life, a religious foundation, and a host of extra-curriculars like Boy Scouts, community service, and foreign travel. It’s all good stuff. I’m not arguing that. But unlike the rest of the world, we believe that all of it is essential. And to provide such illustrious opportunities, both father and mother must work themselves to death.

Solution?

No idea, other than move to a farm and try non-schooling. But that would really stress me out. And I draw the line at growing my own food. That’s at least one reason I am a suburb mom.

Get in the Game

923128_184146488406400_707906979_nMy husband’s always telling me that our boys are learning great character traits and life lessons from competitive sports. I agree. Today, while listening to the yells of parents and coaches, I noticed some parallels of playing soccer to living life effectively. The spiritual implications were startling. Take a look at the power behind these imperatives:

Be aggressive! Easy for the spectators to  say–be aggressive when you’re up against a boy who’s a foot taller than you, who’s pushing you off the ball at every turn and fouling you when the ref’s back is turned. Pretend that you’re fierce when really you’re afraid of getting hurt, getting beat, and making a mistake in front of your peers, your coaches, and a crowd of demanding relatives. What’s aggression, exactly? Forceful, attacking, even hostile behavior, either provoked or unprovoked. Really, when we parents are asking a child to be aggressive, we’re commanding him to assert himself past a comfortable level, into a situation that’s daunting. What parents and coaches are expecting from aggressive play is an out-of-normal life personality expression, like an act of warfare.

Hustle! Go, go, go! Run faster, even though you’ve been sprinting for an hour, back and forth across the field with a soccer ball. Don’t stop moving. If you stand still, you’re going to get beat. You will lose the ball, the advantage, even the opportunity for forward motion and potential scoring. Movement is optimal, even when the outcome is questionable.

Think about what you’re doing! Don’t pass for the sake of movement. Look for the play, for the open teammate, for the opposition. Strategize, but strategize quickly. This skill is best accomplished at practice, because in-game decisions should come intuitively and quickly, like automatic machinery with wheels and cogs working in unison to create a beautiful product. In order to think on your feet, you will need to have taken the time to fill your mind with knowledge and your body with practiced mechanics. Nobody turns genius under extreme pressure.

Teamwork! You’re never alone, even when boxed in by the big kid on the other team, whose large feet jab at your shin guards while he tries to steal the ball from you. Close by, a team member is waiting, calling for the ball, anticipating a pass. In spite of dirty plays and bad calls, a unified team usually triumphs eventually. The player, however, who believes that success rides squarely on his shoulders alone, will rarely triumph.

Switch fields! Sometimes, the path to success is a distance away. It will take foresight and planning to change paths, but the effort will be well-spent. The coast is clear, and a teammate is open, if you just lift up your eyes and see the whole field. It may be hard to give him the ball, but it beats losing the ball where you are. Switching fields involves trusting your team members and sacrificing potential opportunity for yourself in favor of certain opportunity for him.

Talk to each other. Asking for the ball, encouraging a struggling teammate, and coaching one another about position can be awkward. But oh, so necessary. A team that doesn’t talk, doesn’t connect and doesn’t win. Conversing on and off the field promotes accountability and comradery–the basis for personal strength.

Get up! Shake it off! When you fall or get hurt, get over it fast. Get running. Get back in the game. You will make mistakes, even ones that cost the team, like the shot that hits the crossbar or the penalty kick that goes over the goal. A wide open net as you fake out the goalie–only to miss the shot. It’s okay. It happens to everyone. Don’t fall to the ground and cover your head with your hands, like the world has just collapsed. Just get back in the game. Experience is the greatest teacher.

Notice the spiritual implications–

Be aggressive–You have a hostile enemy trying to take you out of the game. Fight the devil with everything you’ve got.

Hustle–Keep fighting, keep moving forward in your spiritual walk. Not hustling means you’re stagnant, which means you’re getting beaten.

Think about what you’re doing–Growing spiritually takes intentionality. It begins in the heart and mind. The good works you do are merely outpourings of the heart. You can only put on good works without godliness for so long before you crash.

Teamwork–Make yourself spiritually accountable. Get a mentor. Be a mentor. Become an active, integral part of your local church. Focus on affirming and encouraging, instead of complaining and criticizing.

Switch fields– Go where you see God at work already. Don’t try to cut your own path to spiritual success or attain your own goals, however good they may seem. The only goal worth attaining is the one God has planned for you.

Talk to each other–“Encouragement” is the act of inspiring courage in someone else. Be an encourager. Don’t assume that people know that you care about them. Affirm them and lift them up, even at the expense of perceived personal gain. Advancing others benefits everyone.

Get up! Shake it off–You are going to make spiritual mistakes. Just keep working on what God has called you to do. Make the right choices for the right reasons. Remember, embarrassment comes through expectation; if you are pursuing God’s plan for you rather than other people’s plans, it’s easier to eliminate disappointment. Ironically, spectators and coaches seem to have all the answers for the game’s problems, yet they can’t affect or determine its progress or its outcome. Only competitors can play the game and win. Spectators just watch. They share neither the complete agony nor total exhilaration from its outcome.

So get in the game! You were made to compete.

2 Tim. 2:5, 7–“Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. . . . Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”