My boy has started playing soccer. That makes me, officially, a soccer mom.
I feel like I should start driving my husband’s Subaru and invest in some khaki pants. I need to start doing crunches and buy a lawn chair with extra large cup holders and a place to attach an umbrella.
Of course, I don’t know how long my son will stick with it. He’s having a blast right now, though it’s hot and exhausting and he sometimes ends up lying flat on the field. He’s a big boy–though he’s one of the youngest on the field, he’s also one of the biggest–and not in the greatest physical shape. He has low muscle tone and has always had a hard time getting motivated for physical activity. He has medical issues that have just made these things harder for him.
Still, he loves it. He never gives up. He wants to go to soccer every day.
But there are these people… just one family, really, that shows up to these junior soccer practices with their whole fit, tan, blonde clan in tow, with a blanket to sit on and bottles of ice water for everyone and an umbrella under which the fit, tan, blonde matriarch can sit and talk about coaching strategies while her fit, tan, blonde husband does sit-ups and checks his social media pages. Their fit, tan, blonde eldest daughter stretches and fixes her ponytail, waiting for her fit, tan, blonde little sister to finish dominating the kiddie class so she can hit the field.
There is nothing wrong with these people. They aren’t rude. They laugh when they see Sam decide to take a rest in the middle of the field, but not in a cruel way–it’s simply unexpected. They cheer when their daughter makes goal after goal during scrimmages, but they also encourage her to share the ball. I’m sure if I ran out of water, they’d open their cooler and share some of theirs, and if they gave me any tips on Sam’s soccer playing, they would do it with the best intentions.
They love soccer. It matters to them. There is nothing wrong with that.
They are beautiful. They take care of themselves. There is nothing wrong with that.
These are not the people who made me feel bad about myself in high school, who snickered at me and my acne, who won awards and comprised the homecoming court. These are not the people on TV and in magazines, whose particular brand of beauty has been idolized at the expense of anyone who looks a little different.
And yet, I want to throw things at them. My inner high-schooler starts making snarky remarks about how stupid soccer really is and some of them actually come out of my mouth. Quietly, and aimed in no particular direction, but it’s awful. They make me feel awful, so I become awful. And there’s no good reason why.
I assume they think I’m fat and ugly. I assume they think my son is lesser than their daughter. I assume they think I’m a bad mother: because my son is husky, because my daughter has no sunglasses, because–I exist. If the average looking woman on the other side of me, who clearly doesn’t care about sports or athleticism, has similar thoughts–well, I don’t care. Why not? My first thought: She’s not so perfect, anyway.
Neither are these people. If they think they are–who cares? And if my son continues soccer year after year and I meet more and more of these types of people–who cares? And if I’m always the fattest, most acne-scarred Mom on the field, the one who doesn’t know what the positions are called and just generally cheers and says, “Have fun out there!” between chapters of whatever book I’m reading under my beach umbrella with a portable fan aiming my way–who cares?