It's official. I'm a soccer mom minus the minivan. Do I still get the bumper sticker for my gas guzzling SUV? I think I should!
I've waited and waited all these years for my children to develop interests in extracurricular activities. For the most part, they've just tried things... a little camp here, a quick lesson there. But nothing seemed to stick!
Then our 7-year-old decided it was time to play soccer. So we signed her up for a fall league and got a surprising taste of what it feels like to watch 7-year-olds play competitively.
In game one, my daughter's team scored the first goal! Although I was happy for the team, I felt heartbroken for the goalie of the other team who put her head down for a brief moment when she realized the ball got through on her watch. As a mom, my instinct to protect children from disappointment was competing with my desire to cheer for my child. The entire experience was bittersweet.
Game two came with a few highs and lows for my daughter. She scored a goal, but she also gave one up when it was her turn to be the goalie. I fought my urge to run out on the field and ask her if she was OK. At that point, the whole family breathed a sigh of relief that mama didn’t call her own personal time out. The teams were more closely matched so the girls really had to fight hard for a win.
I imagine “soccer momdom” will get easier over time. So far, the best part about this experience has been that my daughter decided this was the extracurricular activity for her. There was no nudging, no suggesting and no reminding her about practices or games. This was something she truly wanted to own.
As for protecting her from disappointing moments that come along with athletics, I'm learning that it's all part of a life experience -- one that's going to make both of us tougher and stronger.
Aysu is the mom of three and assistant news director for WRAL-TV. Find her here Sundays.