There are things I know pretty well about myself, now, at 40 – things I can trust in. For example, I’m an awful romantic. Or that in spite of being a bad romantic, I’m a little bit hippie – I like stuff like baking bread and growing a food garden and home remedies.* I believe in homemade Halloween costumes. Also, I’m a bit of a Marxist – sharing is big on my list of Stuff To Do, and most of the punk rock community ethos from my 20s is still stuck to me like white on rice. But at the same time, I’m happy to report that I still surprise myself from time to time. For example, I recently had a revelation that stunned me for a full thirty minutes.

The epiphany happens around nine o’clock in the morning at the muddy pitch on the top of the hill. It’s nice and cool and sunny out, and I’ve gotten an early start to the day, so I’m pleased. The rest of the day is wide open – I have nothing more complicated planned than baking bread later, maybe boiling stock from Thursday’s chicken dinner. We remembered chairs, even.

I’m kinda stoked. Our man cub is in a good mood, excited about playing today in the new cleats we picked up because his feet grew two sizes since the last game,** and even Will Dear doesn’t appear to have suffered  much for getting up before eleven on a weekend. He made us coffee to bring along. It is lovely.

There will be shouting – the good kind of shouting – at the boys on the field. I’m invested, unlike Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG) next to us with his magazine and the ear buds already stuffed in his head. Seriously, what kind of jerk brings their kid to the game, just to ignore  the whole thing?

That’s when it hits me: I’ve become a soccer mom. I organize our family around two practices and a game every week, two seasons a year. I recognize which opposing teams have whomped ours and which players did the whomping. I know when to shout what kind of business at the field, and when to refrain because it would embarrass Man Cub. I know what warrants a goal kick and a corner kick, and I’m beginning to understand what off-sides means. BAM! there it is: soccer mom.

You know, I thought it would be more painful – the transition, I mean. Like when Kevin, the guitarist I was in a band with in the 90s, woke up one morning to realize he now had one too many kids to drive anything other than a minivan. Or that rainy afternoon in March when I finally had to admit to myself that not only was I not going to be a full time rockstar for a living, but that I  needed to get a job pronto.

I think I also believed that there was some part and parcel involved in this – that if I ever found myself out to be a soccer mom, that I would also discover at the same time that I’d become a conservative with a refrigerator full of Kraft products. I think about it, I take a tally,  I pinch myself, even –  and yup, still Marxist. This is a relief.

The perspective from the pitch is funny – I can see clearly every time I’ve used the term soccer mom as a personality type at best, and as an indictment of character at worst†, and here I am on a Saturday morning with the kid in uniform and the warm travel cup full of coffee, and the folding chairs. And really, aside from the SNAG in the expensive hiking boots, who’s probably just grody independent of his political leanings, I don’t see any parent in this crowd I’d mind grabbing a coffee with. At least two of them, if bumper stickers are to be believed, are AFL-CIO members. And the lady with the little dog whom I smoke with (the lady, not the dog) is super nice. The dad yelling at the ref in agitated Spanish is a truly sweet guy who also doesn’t mind repeatedly explaining the whole off-sides thing to me week after week.

This didn’t hurt – it was easy, even. Without noticing, I turned from someone who only occasionally watched ice hockey (and only for the fights), into someone who actually cares about how soccer works. And, well, color me astounded. I don’t know that I’m ready to pick a team and sit down to root for them through entire World Cup or anything, but I might hang for a match if Man Cub is camped out watching. Actually, to be completely honest,  I’m far less interested in any game that doesn’t involve Man Cub playing,***but hanging out on the couch with our man cub and a bowl of popcorn is one of life’s best little pleasures, yanno?

And anyway, Who says I can’t be a Marxist soccer mom? Zoe says that, really, there are probably more. Jaquelyn says that’s really the way it should be, anyway. Then she said something the other night about my internalized repression and I had to smirk at that. But I guess that’s just the way it is. So I better get used to it, huh? Well, I can totally think of worse ways to spend a Saturday morning, for sure.


*The ones that work.
**This is not hyperbole. For reals – that’s how this kid grows. And for the record, it blows my mind.
†Go ahead – image google the term soccer mom. Go on. See if any of those images make you think of me.
***Also, vuvuzelas sound like bees and that freaks me out.