Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And There She Was...

If I had one wish, it would be for me to know what I know now, when I was a teenager. Either that, or for my children to understand why I do the things I do. You don't know how many times, I see my mother in me. Years ago, I would have thought that's the worst thing possible, but now, I couldn't be more humbled to think that I could love my children as much as she loves me.

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. With the hubby out of town, and my son screaming out in pain from his arm hurting (yes, the same arm he's already broken three times), my parents helped me with my kids while I spent the afternoon at the hospital. I had a soccer game at night and was all set to skip it... I finally got home at 8:45, was rounding up the kids and hurrying through bedtime routine, and then there was a knock at the door. It was my Mama- and she looked at me and said, "Go to your game." She took my baby and I hurried out the door. She didn't have to tell me twice.

The day I said I wanted to quit playing soccer, my mom was crushed. Like many parents, I know she wanted me to play in college- even if it was for the NOVA Grasshoppers, she would have been happy. When I played club soccer at Virginia Tech, she came to my first game at JMU... and then I disappointed her even more and quit after the first game. Soccer was fun and all, but an early morning wake-up for practice on Saturdays was just not in my cards after a kegger and all-nighter.

At the time, I felt like I disappointed my mom. I felt pressure from her and knew that I was letting her down. There was nothing more that she liked than traveling to see me play. At the time, we would fight about it, but now, in a weird way, I get it.

Growing up, soccer was my life. Weekends traveling for games, evenings spent at practice, family vacations at tournaments. My team was my village. When we were all grounded, we were still about to sit in that circle and laugh our asses off before games. I mean, our parents weren't going to take away something they were paying for.

Last Spring, some of our travel team, The Blast, reunited for a women's league. Most of us hadn't seen each other in over ten years, didn't know what the others were up to, hadn't touched a ball, but when we saw each other, it was like a day hadn't passed. At the beginning, we sucked. But just like the olden days, Tuesday nights became our church, our breath of fresh air, our laughs for the week away from our every day lives.

The bonds that are made on the field carry over to our real life. When we get together at dinner, I swear we could all look at each other and just laugh. We know more about one another than any of us should know. When playing, I know that if I kick the ball anywhere in Renee's vicinity, she's going to go balls to the wall and try to score even if we are down by ten. Her free spirit is contagious. And when "Rut" announced she was preggo, I cried. She was always a year younger than us and felt like a little sister, and emotion overcame me. And when the younger sister of one of our teammates that now plays with us joked about being a divorced mother of two, I wanted to hug her and I got in my car that night and smiled. She was one of three families that lost a parent while we played together and all I could think was, "If her Dad was here to see how she dominates on that field, he would be so proud." And it hit me. My very own mom is proud.

Contrary to what I may have believed, she was not out to raise the next Mia Hamm. She was a mom who loved seeing her daughter happy on the field. She loved seeing the friendships I had made, the growth as a person, and that was our way of life. So when I quit, she lost part of her own identity. SHE still misses Mr. Diemar's dirty jokes, Mr. Snyder yelling from the sideline, and the hustle and bustle of going all over the place for yet another soccer game- I know, because twenty years later, she still reminisces about it.

In fact, she misses seeing my brothers play basketball, but gets excited and is in the stands at every church rec league game they play. So now, I get it. I am becoming a swim mom, a baseball mom, a softball mom. The day the kids want to quit is going to be hard for me- and I know that day will come probably sooner rather than later and that's okay. But it's not because I think I'm raising the next Michael Phelps or Jenny Finch. It's because just like my mom, I love cheering from the sidelines, spending a day at the field, and forming our very own village. I'll just have to keep in mind, that one day there will be another chapter. Perhaps, the phone will ring and Chris will tell me he's playing intermural innertube water polo, and when that happens, I will smile. Because last night, my mom showed me. Sometimes it's all for the love of the game... and sometimes, it's just all for the love of your kids... and one day, they'll get that.