I am a soccer mom. See that woman standing on the edge of the field yelling at the kids. Turns out, that’s me. I know you’re not supposed to, and I hated it when my father did exactly the same thing, but I can’t seem to help myself. If I was playing, I am positive we could beat those 7 year olds.
But the question I have for myself is not whether I should or shouldn’t be sharing my (mostly) encouraging thoughts of soccer wisdom with the entire field. It’s how did I get to this point in the first place? How is it I drive a people mover carting my kids around from drama to piano to soccer to scouts, deep in the suburbs? How did I end up fretting over NAPLAN and baking cakes in the middle of the day? What happened to my suits and my determination to rule the world?
Once upon a time, in the distant past, I had this corporate career. I worked hard at it and although (let’s face it), I didn’t love it so much, I was pretty successful at it. I rather enjoyed the cash it provided to buy new clothes and shoes and endless quantities of cocktails. And somewhere in there I got married and went travelling and saw the world. And then, it’s like I fell asleep and woke up a decade later wondering what the hell had happened to my thirties…
Oh yes, that’s right. I had kids. And, although they are now 7 and 8, I think I’ve only really just emerged from that first stage of parenthood I like to call “complete bewilderment”.
I’ve only just started to see some daylight between my own self and my off-spring. They don’t need me as much, except for more important things like nutrition and cuddles. But I don’t need to wipe bums anymore, spend hours pureeing food, play endless games of (mindless) snap. I don’t need to be watching their every move with hawk eyed vigilance, just in case they accidentally pick up a spider or fall down the stairs.
And, as it turns out, I am not even really responsible for their future happiness, the idea of which has long held me in a state of tortured anxiety. I’ve only just realised that I don’t have to walk their path for them, pointing out every possible rock they may trip over or opportunity they may miss if they spend all their time on YouTube. I have to let them fall and stumble and be themselves. I have to let them shape their own dreams and follow the moonlit trail towards them. Do I have to applaud? Yes willingly. Commiserate. Certainly. Occasionally take away their privileges. Sure. But it is not my journey. It is theirs. And that is a liberating thought.
Where does that leave me in my life? What am I supposed to do if I am not living their lives for them? Luckily, I am reminded by their dreams that I have my own. And although my values have changed and my understanding of success is under constant renovation, I am free to follow those dreams. If I dare.
And because I don’t have those 25 year old eyes anymore that equate success to owning a fast car and, oh, you know, being Prime Minister or something, I can have something better. Balance. I can be a soccer mom. And I can run a business. And be on the school P & C and organise the scout fair. And I can also write.
If I dare.