Otter Pops & other forms of redemption


It’s a funny thing to think that an Otter pop could save one’s soccer mom status, but in the eyes of one nine-year-old living in my house, this might be the case.

You see, I have not been embracing this new role at all. In fact, I was a bit horrified the first time some astute, yet irritating, friend pointed out that I had indeed become one of them. Even though I travel around sans station wagon (and sans goofy soccer ball stickers on the back as well), I am wild banshee, stuffing children and gear in my car several days a week. This clown car of sorts screeches to a halt and deposits this carload onto what is usually a soggy field and heads out to run errands before returning to said field to get further instructions for the coming weekend of “food-ball” mania.

This is not what I signed up for.

Holy cow, I’ve become what I used to poke at with a heckling stick. When I say that I didn’t embrace it, I mean that I was rather resistant and a tiny bit cranky about what was involved in this undertaking. I tried to have a good attitude as I donned my full rain suit to head out to a full day of cheering and encouraging. I really was attempting to keep my pie hole shut when asked by another cranky, commiserating parent why practices seemed to go over all the time and why our refs always seemed to look like they were twelve. My mouth quivered and shook with forced restraint and then blahhhhh…it all came rolling out and even my complaint companion was surprised at my unlikeable soccer mom venom. I wasn’t surprised when she backed away in fear that this attitudis horriblis would somehow jump from my cold heart onto hers.

Did my daughter notice? I wasn’t sure.

Then I was surer than sure…because she flat out told me that I was the weak link in this soccer mom chain. Agh….my heart hurt. I felt like I’d been scolded by a toddler, but as I took in the longing in her eyes to have someone who was excited for her new journey, the shame landed on my head like a shingle from the roof above us. What was blocking me from being the spirited parent who just happens to have a cooler full of flavored water in the trunk at any given moment? Why did my mouth form into a Muppet Beaker-like shape when I was given the lengthy practice and game sheet? Why was I so resentful of a sport that seemed to give my future Mia Hamm some confidence and skill?

I’ve always wanted to do things differently in my parenting and home life. You know…slightly obscure décor in our home with a possible living room swing in our future. There was commitment to random travel to exotic locations on a moment’s notice. A gathering of the clan and a stint in Europe for a year was in there somewhere. Archery and teepees in the backyard, lantern-lit trees in our forest on long summer nights, Sunday reading days spent in hammocks as a family…this romantic list conjured up somewhere between my 20’s and 30’s gets longer and longer. I’m thinking I might need to unsubscribe to some of the heaps of magazines stacked on my kitchen table that tell me that this kind of life is normal for creative people.

In all of this, somehow I forgot to include activities that regular ‘ole American suburban kids like to participate in. Somehow, my own agenda got fish wrapped around the desires of a nine-year-old to be an athlete and spend time with people she feels a connection to.

This leads me to the Otter Pops. ‘Can’t forget about those nutritious, natural freezer aisle dwellers. I guess as I was standing there being told by a wounded child that I just wasn’t cuttin’ it in this new addition to her extracurricular life, something changed in my heart. The crankiness moved over and squished itself to the side so that understanding and soccer love could come in. I’m not sure she saw this change take place as I stood there with my head hung low, but I felt it wash over me and I made a silent promise to make up for my transgressions.

On a 90 degree day, I hope my frozen brightly colored peace offerings were enough to jumpstart my support and love for a child who is finding her way in the land of kid interests. As her teammates excitedly unwrapped the Otter pops, I thought I saw my daughter give me a knowing smile. Even if it wasn’t meant to communicate anything, it was enough for me to move forward on this journey without complaint.

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(this was posted with permission from my daughter…she’s aware of my change of heart and understands my need to “work it out” in words).

Any of you resist some things in your kids’ lives? There’s just no telling what some kids will want to do with their time and as parents we have to rise up….would love to hear about your experiences.


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4 Responses to Otter Pops & other forms of redemption

  1. Valerie says:

    Forgive me Father, for I have sinned… My last confession was…

    ….this past Spring Soccer season.

    For the fact that I HATE going to games on a rainy cold Saturday morning…that I hate putting down plastic garbage bags to “protect” my cloth covered seats from mud soaked gear and cleats…that I’m mildly annoyed that we can’t leave on a Friday night for a weekend get-a-way…

    Thanks for this post! I needed the gentle reminder of self-donative love that is required of us when we sign up to do this “parenting” thing!!!


  2. Oh, my sweet friend… You know I am the ultimate soccer mom… I have those “goofy” stickers, on the back of my car, I am the carpool mom on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I sit in a lawn chair pretty much every weekend rooting for my kiddos… And there are days when I don’t feel like leaving the driveway for the umpteen time, or walk in a muddy field holding an umbrella while freezing my (not so) little ass, or wash uniforms at 11pm because there’s a game at 8 in the morning and we forgot that the uniforms were still at the bottom of the hamper… And you know I beat the record at setting up for the BH show in less than 2 hours because we were rushing back for a soccer game…!! But the elation and pride I feel when I watch my children thrive and shine doing something they love erases any “pain”… Trust me, every tiring ride to a soccer practice, every late-night load of laundry, every cheer at a soggy game will naturally become a part of the loving rituals of soccer motherhood, and TRUST ME, it will not go unnoticed by your children!!! I am confident that your heart will be full of soccer love, not necessarily love of the game, but love of the game WITH your daughter in it! And there are fringe benefits… Some of my daughters best friends are teammates (the same goes for me and other soccer moms…), and the bonds they create are amazing!! In the end, just because you are “boxed into” the title of soccer mom, doesn’t mean you have to be like all the other moms and lose your parenting uniqueness, it just means you do all you do because you love your children so much and you want them to be happy doing what they love. That’s it! I think you are off to a great start…!! Love you!

  3. Holly says:

    Lara-I love your ability to put your feelings into words and to be your beautiful, vulnerable self. Your post reminds me of how many similarities we share even though we don’t see nearly enough of one another. I also struggle with the balance between being the mom “I know I should be” and the mom that can put her own needs on the priority list and still support her children. I am reading a really great book right now by Brene Brown that I would love to discuss with a like-minded mom. :) It is helping me to have compassion for myself and the things I choose to do to support my kids (and my husband!) and to be able to do them with a loving attitude or find alternative solutions.

  4. Shannon says:

    Lara, my activity that my boys just love and I loath is cubscouts. I never realized how much was expected of the parents. I am like you I have been dragged into this world kicking and screaming. My feet scraping out grooves in the ground as I go. I too, am trying to make peace with it because my boys love it so much and I want to be there for them.

    I have never posted a comment before, but I have been following your blog for a while. It is the blog I go to when I need to be uplifted in my creative world. You have shown me how to find my creative courage many times. Keep up the good work. Your battle is worth the effort!

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