Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On soccer and self-improvement

I became a soccer mom this fall, for the first time ever. I'm not sure how we managed to get through sixteen years of parenting without ever having a child do team sports, but we did, and I've gotta tell you it's a mercy.

I do not like being a soccer mom. It's not the game (I kind of like the game). It's not the coaches. It's not the other parents. It's me. I don't like myself while I'm at my child's soccer game. I feel agitated and irritated, enthusiastic and bored, frustrated and snarly. And I have no idea why.

I'm definitely on the bandwagon with the See the Gross Slimy Creature Emerging From Yourself and Find a Way to Transform It orchestra. I'm a firm believer that part of the reason we're supposed to be fruitful and multiply is because being a parent brings all our weaknesses to light, where we can decide what to do about them. If we're remotely wise, we look at our glaring flaws and say, "Eeew! I want to be a better person than that!" And then we start to look at parenting as more than the process of guiding a wee one into adulthood. We start to look at it as a valuable, long and oft-repeated cycle of opportunities to improve ourselves (and guide a wee one into adulthood).

Example: I'm reasonably certain there's never been a mother who, after surviving a grueling year with a rambunctious three year old, thought Gosh, I'm even more patient than I thought I was! (Personally, I've been a parent of a preschooler five times, and my conclusion is that if I were God, I would've counted 1, 2... 4. Age three is one of those mysteries on a par with why babies aren't born potty trained.) No, we become more patient because our puny but strong-willed offspring help us realize that we're nowhere near as patient as we thought. And our offspring are a big enough motivation -- because we care about them and about being good parents -- for us to dig deep and find ways to become more patient. And that's good.

But I still hate watching my kid's soccer games. If I figure out why, I'll let you know.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a fan of watching team sports of any kind.