Day 13: Lessons in the Rewards of Being Present, Youth Soccer Edition


That’s my firstborn going for the ball…yeah!

We were so close to being done with soccer forever. My first blog post ever (this is my second) was about accepting that my firstborn daughter was struggling to keep her head above water after three seasons on a competitive team, and that we were done. That was fun, good exercise, good exercise in humility and sportsmanship…on to the next thing.

But then yesterday, a week after that post, something unexpected happened. It had been a rough morning and she didn’t want to go to her game. She didn’t want to find her shorts, or her socks or her shin guards…all things she is supposed to keep together in her soccer bag. She informed me that soccer was cutting into her ‘relaxation time’ (uh, yeah kid, mine too…), and that she didn’t want to play next season. I said that was fine, but we had a month left of this season and I expected her to play her best. On the way to the field we talked about when she’s older and looking back at her soccer days…she’ll want to remember going for it. She’ll want to remember being present both mentally and physically on the field for her remaining practices and games, rather than just going through the motions.

As soon as the game started I noticed she seemed rather energized. She was where she needed to be, still a little unsure of what to do with the ball once she got it but definitely out there to play. At one point she did that thing where you stop the ball and get it going in the other direction, in the right direction, and made a successful pass. It was an all around good game and the parents were having fun watching. Then it happened. My daughter, playing forward, was in the thick of the action, where she’d been a lot of the game with varying degrees of success. The ball came her way and she kicked it, hard (with the inside of her foot — up until recently, despite quite a bit of quality coaching, she’d been really stubborn about picking up this basic skill). It sailed past the goalie (who was no slouch) and into the goal. Boom. Her teammates and coaches erupted into a joyous chorus. I asked the dad next to me who was doing the flag duty, was that your daughter who made that goal? Honestly, I couldn’t believe it. He said no, it was yours…Oh. My. Goodness.

The coaches, who have been very, very patient with my daughter, seemed as happy about all this as I was. It wasn’t a goal necessary to win the game…everyone just seemed genuinely thrilled to watch a player who’s struggled bravely have a breakthrough.

And the kid herself, on the way to the car she tells me, ‘Maybe I’m not ready to stop playing soccer, Mom…”

We’ll see, we don’t have to decide today.

Let’s just savor today.

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