The Phenomenon of the Soccer Mom

Endlessly ridiculed, openly mocked — the ubiquitous Soccer Mom holds her place in our society as often nothing more than a sounding board for ill-intentioned observations.

Scorned for being too prepared, too eager, too helpful, too pretty and too nice, Soccer Mom shrugs off this derisive mantle and keeps going. Day after day, year after year, overseeing the well-being of her children and any other kids within eyesight. There are Helicopter Moms, Tiger Moms, Free-Range Moms, Attachment Moms — the list goes on.

But to me, Soccer Mom reigns as uncrowned queen. The glue holding the rest of us together.

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I think of myself as a Soccer Mom in training. SMIT, if you will. Both of my kids have been in soccer, my husband has coached their teams, and I drive a minivan.

Is that what it means to be a Soccer Mom? Not in the slightest.

Walking up to our second preschool — after we withdrew our two children from the first preschool due to an egregious bout of bullying — my son and I scanned the new faces. Already in little groups, already settled, as we newbies made our way into a classroom full of cheerful teachers and well-behaved (well-monitored) kids. My son fit in like he was the final piece of the puzzle and I was delighted.

Back in the parking lot, I glanced at the other mothers chatting before they began the rest of their days. Little ones in tow, just as my own little girl clung to my sleeve. I opened my car door without saying hello, as my chest was full of all the emotions that come with switching schools mid-year and I didn’t have the strength right then to reach out.

Like a ray of sun, one of the moms left the group and jogged over to me, her hand outstretched. Standing there, chatting in the chilly air, her smile welcomed our family into what turned out to be a fantastic rest-of-the-year. And it caught me at just the right moment. Just when I needed someone to reach out and help me know I’d picked a great place for my kids to finish their preschool years.

Soccer Mom at work.

A different day, a different time, my kids and I joined another mom and her kids for a hike down to a local watering hole. Quite literally, in kid-speak. A beach-ish area so muddy and tight I half-expected a scraggly rhino to saunter down and join us.

The children, bounding with the excitement of having been released into the wild took off down the paved path and twenty feet in my son catapulted himself over his own feet. Now bleeding and filthy and full of tears, I caught my daughter to keep her from running to the water and looked around for something, anything, to wipe my son’s leg. A leaf? My shirt?

Next thing I knew the other mom handed me a travel-sized pain spray and a Spider-Man bandaid.

Soccer Mom at work.

As a SMIT, I’ve learned a lot from my mentors. Including a grand understanding of why my own mother retained the ability to produce hard candies during church well into our teenage years.

Soccer Moms are the moms who bring an extra snack to share with friends. The moms you list as your Emergency Contact. The moms who know when the school play begins, where to park for end-of-day pickup, and the best way to get on the librarian’s good side (those bookworms can be quite saucy!).

Soccer Moms see the kids who are by themselves at recess and totter their own children over to extend a play invitation. Or see the grown-ups who are by themselves and reach out their hands to say, “Welcome.” Soccer Moms change the course of stray balls. Helping right them. Wipe the tears. Get them back on track. Offer a shoulder to cry on, or a hand for a high-five.

In short, Soccer Moms are the best of us. To Soccer Mom, life is a team sport.

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33 thoughts on “The Phenomenon of the Soccer Mom

  1. From one mature and semi-retired Soccer Mom (do moms ever retire??), I say welcome to the team! I’m proud to have been a SM — literally, as 2 of my 3 played soccer for years even into college, and as one of those moms who always tried to give a helping hand to other moms. It’s a noble profession, if you ask me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thanks for the team welcome, Cindy! Happy to be here. And sounds like soccer was a part of your life for a long time! I knew you were one of those who reached out.

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  2. Love this post!
    When my daughter was 4 and started school I sometimes cried on the way home because I felt she was still so small and I just wished that we lived in Sweden where they start at 6. One of those mornings a mom reached out to me.

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    1. Those first days are so hard! I can definitely relate. I’m so happy that another mom reached out to you — I know it made all the difference. And I bet you’ve done the same countless times, maybe without even realizing it.

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  3. I love the movie “One Fine Day” with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer where he discovers/remembers the kids needed to dress like superheroes for an event. She saves them both by reaching into her bag and “voilรก” costumes. A magical moment I could relate to. Oh to have a bag like that.
    Jack Taylor played by George Clooney says “W-Where’d you get a bag like that?”
    The sheer wonder and relief in the moment, reinforced to me, soccer-like-moms are needed everywhere at any time. Gotta be ready and prepared with many tricks in that bag.

    Bravo, Melissa. What can I say? Home room mom, band booster officer mom working concessions, drill team mom (braiding head after head of hair stands out)… I was very grateful that as I looked after theirs, they were looking after mine.

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  4. What a wonderful post Melissa. But I think your Soccer Mom perspective extends to Moms who do not even have children in the sport – the Moms who are always there to help – the Just Plain Moms who are actually involved in any number of school activities. I know you are one of those JPM’s and will be throughout your children’s school years and well beyond. Your goodness shines through every post.

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    1. Thank you, Dor! I’m so happy to be a JPM (and to think I didn’t even know I had all these titles). The last line in your comment left me a little speechless. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much! Your comment means a lot to me. I’m happy to hear your youngest is still into soccer, and helping others enjoy it as well! What a great way to spend spare time, wow. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. You just educated me with this post. Maybe it’s because I am unaccustomed with the phrase Soccer Mom from where I come from (I thought it was literarilly and “only” mothers bringing their sons and daughters to soccer training – and in that sense I have been a Soccer Dad for many years myself), but I didn’t know that being one implied so much. I guess I am an IDIT (ignorant dad in training) then. Thanks for educating me – and keep up with the good training yourself!

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    1. I’m so happy to hear that you’re a Soccer Dad, Otto! It’s really the moms and dads and all the people who view life as a team sport who make this world go round. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you very much for your kind words!

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  6. Melissa, this is such a lovely take on things. I met a young woman earlier this summer who carried everything you could possibly imagine in her bag, including the expected wipes and water and tissues. She isn’t a mother (yet), but a schoolteacher at the start of her career. I just laughed and told her she’d be just fine when/if she had kids of her own.

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    1. What a perfect thing to say! And wow, so prepared and no kids in the car to need those wipes. But plenty in the classroom! Wipes are one of the most useful inventions. I know a mom who hands them to her kids to have them wipe the floorboards while she makes dinner! They get paid — part of their chores. I don’t think I’ve ever wiped my floorboards. (Don’t tell.) I’ll run the vacuum over them if I’m feeling particularly inspired. Anyway, I digress. I’m glad to hear you stopped to say such nice things to a complete stranger. That makes my day. I was chatting with the woman in front of me in line at the grocer the other day, and my daughter piped up, “Mommy! Now you made a friend!”

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  7. This was nice to read. I’m not sure if I’m a SMIT; however, I have a 3 year old and often times feel super duper overwhelmed in both good (My kid is driving me crazy but I love her to pieces) and bad (I wish I could hide in the closet and take a nap) ways. I guess I’ve had those moms that have come alongside to say, “We see you,” and that does feel fantastic especially when you’re feeling all alone. I think you’re going to be a great SM.

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