Sometimes I arrive at an event and I’m so proud. Exhilarated even. I’ve managed to get the right kid in the right uniform at the right time to the right location. I want to jump out of the car and do high kicks. I want to high five all the other parents. Sometimes I sit down in my folding chair and say things like, “All right! We’re here! Who’s ready for some soccer?!” in this triumphant voice and I just figure everyone gets it because they have made it too!
But sometimes I have days like these. Days that don’t go so smoothly.
Let me tell you a little story about today.
Dan was in Park City running a trail marathon so I was on my own for sports. Our 5PM soccer game preparation started at about 2 o’clock. I had to get two kids to two different games at two very different out of town locations with three little kids in tow. I dropped Eli at a friend’s house around 2:30 so he could get a ride so his soccer game. Then I rushed back home to pack up the Suburban with all the rest of the kids and all the necessary gear before I drove Isaiah to his basketball game.
By GEAR I mean stroller, folding chairs, soccer umbrella/tent, bugspray, umbrellas, a diaper bag with extra clothes, diapers, wipes, and binkies. I made sure each child was wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt. I made sure each child was wearing socks and shoes (because yes, we do occasionally arrive somewhere with one child…okay, Luke… inexplicably barefoot). There were snacks for all involved. There was a water bottle for each child. I packed an extra blanket and winter coats because on Monday it was 80 degrees and today was in the 50’s. James and Luke picked their movie for the car. And we were set!
We dropped Isaiah at his game to warm up where Dan would meet him later after his race for game time. Then we headed about 35 more minutes south to watch Eli play. We were ALMOST on time for the game.
The traffic was horrible. And as we crept closer to the game the rain came down harder and I watched the temperature drop. 46 degrees. This little voice kept saying “Turn back! It is entirely too cold to take those kids outside!”
But I didn’t. I’m a soccer mom and there was a soccer game.
We managed to walk across three fields in the rain and set up our little spot only missing about the first two or three minutes of the game. Luke wouldn’t stay out of those puddles and in about five minutes he was wet and COLD. And crying. Lizzy was distracted with goldfish crackers until halftime but then she wanted to get down. She was insistent. Within minutes her hands had turned purple and then SHE was crying too! It was 46 degrees, windy and raining. Eli’s team was down 3-0. Occasional wind gusts threatened to blow our umbrella/tent away. And two out of three kids were crying. Thank goodness for my sweet, easy James.
I wanted to drop everything, throw myself down on the soggy grass, and bawl my eyes out. But I didn’t. I’m the grown-up. I’m a mom. And I’ve realized (after MUCH experience) that as the mom I can’t get snippy or frustrated, I can’t push harder on kids who are already on the brink of complete and total meltdown. Because when I lose it their behavior gets about 400 times worse and it spells disaster for everyone! So I just bundled that baby a little tighter in the blanket, popped in her binky, and bounced her on my hip while simultaneously opening a granola bar for Luke with one hand and holding our giant soccer umbrella/tent in place in the wind with the other. I even managed to watch and shout out things like, “Go Eli! You got it! Nice ball! Push up defense!”
I’m not looking for applause. I’m not special. I don’t need accolades. Every other mom has at least 15 stories exactly like this one, and that’s probably just from yesterday.
Some moms manage this type of chaos while battling a chronic disease. Some moms get this done as a single mom with very little support. Some do it while juggling a full time job. Some have children with special needs. Some moms are in the midst of a failing marriage or financial struggles.
I guess I’m just saying it is hard. This thing we do as moms. Sometimes we have to do hard things. We keep moving. We slog through. We press forward. Event after event, day after day, week after week, year after year.
This is why I forget to sign up for parent teacher conferences. This is why I may not read the Wednesday newsletter until Friday (or the following Wednesday). This is why I don’t check my email. This is why I haven’t had a haircut since November. This is why I am most likely not wearing make-up. This is why my children occasionally eat Burger King for dinner. I am too busy doing hard things and I can’t possibly do ALL the things.
I don’t NEED validation or recognition. But wouldn’t it be amazing once in a while? Like today after the game when I was pushing that 10-year-old rickety Sit Stand tandem stroller loaded down with all that gear and a crying toddler across three fields of long wet grass WHILE holding a hysterical four year old, my toes squishing inside my soggy shoes and wet hair plastered to my forehead, chanting to myself “Two more minutes and you’ll be there. Two more minutes and you’ll be back inside the car…you can do two more minutes. Two more minutes.” if someone had been stationed at the field gates passing out medals to all the soccer moms for their dedication it would have made the day just a little more worthwhile. I mean, no one even noticed when Eli tried pointing out the horses nearby in an attempt to distract my crying Lizzy and I quipped, “She’ll see it later Eli, her eyes are frozen.” So I just had to giggle to myself.
I think this is something society needs. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea if the Wal-Mart greeter also had little trophies. Trophies engraved with titles like “School Supply List 2017”. Trophies handed out to all the moms coming through with a herd of kids and all the supplies along with a firm handshake, “Good job mom. You did it!” Or at Costco, the man who checks the receipt with his Sharpie should also be in tune to the mom pushing her 600 pound cart loaded with $300 of gigantic Costco boxes with all her children in tow. I mean, the kids get a smiley face on the receipt so moms should at least get a certificate of completion. “Ma’am I see you got ALL the items on your grocery list. Congratulations!” Bonus points to the mom who manages to feed them all free lunch on the samples at the same time!
I’ve decided I’m going to do this someday. Instead of being the lady who says things like, “Enjoy every moment…they grow up so fast” I’m going to have medals made up to carry in my purse. Then I’ll look for the frazzled mom in Target or the single mom at the airport trying to wrangle her two year old. She’ll have his car seat, a diaper bag, snacks, and his sippy cup in one hand and the end of his monkey backpack leash in the other. He’ll be snotty-nosed and clearly not listening to a single thing she says. I’m going to walk up to her and smile. I’ll put the Amazing Mom medal around her neck and marvel at her adorable, precious cherub and say, “You’re doing a such a great job! Keep going. I know it’s hard. There will be easier days!”
Tonight the kids were still fed, bathed, and in bed by 9PM. As I tucked Luke into bed, I hung up his Dad’s new trail marathon medal on his bulletin board (he always gives his medals to Luke). I silently congratulated myself for another day well done…or a day done anyway. I guess I’ll just keep going. It can be SO hard. I know there will be easier days. But I may just wear that medal around tomorrow for a little while!