I earned a new badge today.
I am now, officially, a soccer mom.
My five-year-old son started practicing with a bunch of fellow pre-kindergarteners this morning. I don’t know who was more excited, him or me. Because this isn’t just his first venture into team sports – it’s also mine.
The way my parents tell it, back in the 1970s when I grew up, children weren’t automatically enrolled in sports as soon as they started to walk. In fact, the female children weren’t generally signed up for sports at all. (Especially in the South, where my Mom was raised. In those parts, a girl playing sports was sighed over, seeing as she was a bit confused about obvious gender roles.)
Thus, I grew up without ever playing a sport. And looking back, that might have been God’s first blessing over my life. Because my eyes are disparate, I have almost no depth perception. In practical terms, I can’t tell that the ball barreling toward my face is six inches from breaking my nose.
Which is a liability on the field.
Also? I throw like a girl.
By the time I got to high school, and it was acceptable and even encouraged for girls to play sports, I was way past the time period where I would risk my self-esteem by learning something new. So I left the sports playing to my brother – who is an incredible athlete – and I stuck to things that were easy for me, like writing and getting good grades and drama and talking on the phone.
Since God has a profound sense of humor, I married a jock. My husband has played and excelled at every sport known to man. When we were dating, it was a bit of game.
“Black belt in four styles.”
“Never turned professional, but could have.”
You name it, he did it. To my amusement, his lifestyle preference continued even after the wedding. Suddenly, I was immersed in competitive softball and flag football. I learned to keep a scorebook (to earn my keep), and I spent many balmy evenings at the batting cage and driving range.
I didn’t play. But I started to see the value in sports. The teamwork. The camaraderie. The exercise. The discipline. The broken bones.
Deep in my soul, a nugget of regret took root. I wished I could go back and do it over. Chances are, I would never have excelled at t-ball or soccer. But maybe I would have been a great swimmer or diver or skater.
So when my son said he wanted to learn to play soccer this summer, I eagerly agreed. This is uncharted territory for both of us. But I’m excited to watch him try. I hope he learns to work hard, have fun and show grace in victory and defeat. I’m looking forward to sitting on the sidelines, marveling at his growth and cheering his every kick.
I just hope he doesn’t kick the ball toward me. Because soccer mom badge or not, I still won’t be able to duck before it smacks me in the face.
Kelly’s preferred sport these days is blogging, which she does at her personal blog, Love Well.