Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Since when do Soccer Mum's suck?

According to Wikipedia, the phrase Soccer Mom "broadly refers to a middle class suburban woman who spends a significant amount of her time transporting her school-age children to their sporting events or other activities...She is sometimes portrayed in the media as busy or overburdened and driving a minivan.  She is also portrayed as putting the interests of her family, and most importantly her children, ahead of her own."
Sound familiar?

Well I probably fit most of the above criteria (although I am about as far from Victoria Beckham as you can get hahaha).  I'm middle class, suburban, and being a working mum with 4 kids I am extremely busy. I spend half of my life driving my kids around  and I do, in fact, drive a minivan (although I prefer the term people mover lol).

Its the last bit that irks me.  Do I put the interests of my children ahead of my own?  Damn right, I do.  In this age of me-ism, selfishness and irresponsibility, since when did acting like a MOTHER become a negative thing?

It doesn't mean I don't have a life and it doesn't mean I'm not my own person but when I became a mum I realised it meant making huge changes to my life, my independence and my goals and dreams for the next short while.
Frankly, I don't know what kind of mother I would be if I didn't put the interests of my children ahead of my own.  What would I be doing?  Travelling the world and leaving my children with relatives?  Spending all my money on designer handbags and sending them to school dressed like hobos?   Sleeping in until 11am every day while they get up and make their own breakfast and take care of themselves?  Getting p*ssed off with their dad every time it gets hard and calling it quits because I can't be bothered working on the relationship anymore?

There are certainly times when I sit by the footy oval watching my 2 big boys play Auskick, freezing to my bones, trying to look interested and excited when they catch the ball or get a kick and I would rather be anywhere else that is nice and warm and hopefully has muffins.  But its not all about me, is it?  I sit in the cold and try to look interested because its about them.

I probably make a hundred decisions every week that are based on what is best for them over and above what is easiest or better for me, because that's what mothers do.

The Wikipedia article then went on to say "Soccer moms are sometimes accused of forcing their children to go to too many after-school activities; over-parenting them in concerted cultivation rather than letting them enjoy their childhood."

Hmmm, well let me tell you a little story....once upon a time there was a girl who lived in a small country town.  She had a happy and active childhood growing up; she played netball with her sister every Saturday and they even won the championship trophy one year, she went to Brownies and Guides and learnt the value of cultivating a community spirit and the fun of camping and singing songs around a fire, she did ballet and jazz classes with her friends (the same friends she is still friends with now), she learnt how to play tennis, she was taught to play and read music, she did swimming lessons every year at the beach instead of the pool.  When she became an adult she had all those experiences and memories behind her and those things helped her to become an active, involved parent.  

Now I will tell you another story...once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a suburb of a big city.  He had an empty childhood and was constantly bored.  He spent a lot of his time indoors watching TV and later when he was old enough he might wander down to the local shopping centre.  When he was 15 he taught himself how to play the guitar because no one would take him to music lessons.  He played no sports (other than a couple of karate lessons he took when he was 18 but never followed through with) and he had never been camping.  He did not know how to swim.  He lost touch with his school friends by the time he was 21.  When he became a parent he found it difficult to be involved with his children and think of fun things for them to do.  He struggled with the motivation to even leave the house or move from in front of the TV.  
So what is worse?  Concerted cultivation or no cultivation at all?  Sure, there were times when I was a kid and the last thing I felt like doing was playing netball on a rainy Saturday (particularly as I'm not very sporty) and there were times when I didn't want to do music lessons because it was b-o-r-i-n-g  but all these years later I can totally see the benefits of playing netball (athletic activity vs. couch potato, working as a team vs. isolation, memories and excitement vs. boredom) and learning music (commitment vs. giving up, achievement vs. lack of challenge, appreciation for the arts and broader music styles vs. narrow outlook).  I never imagined when I was 8 that in 30 years time being in a choir would be one of the greatest joys of my life!.

Both of my big boys go to Scouts (one is in Joeys and one is in Cubs), we have swimming lessons on Friday nights and sport on Saturdays (Auskick in winter, Cricket in summer) and there are scout camps and hikes and Anzac day parades and tree planting and everything else.  My oldest will turn 8 in a few weeks and once his swimming lessons have finished it will be time to start music lessons.
I believe its important for kids to be involved in the community, Scouts helps to increase their confidence and build community spirit and integrity.  I believe its good for kids to play team sports and get outside and run around and not be on the computer or in front of the TV all weekend.  I believe its important that children learn to swim.  I believe music is important for children AND adults to enjoy and create.

Am I a guilty of being a Soccer Mum?  You bet your life I am.  But I will never be guilty of not taking an active interest in their lives, or putting their needs second.

Are you a Soccer Mum?  Where do you stand on activities for kids?  What was your experience growing up?  I'd love to hear from you!


  1. I'm not at all a soccer Mum... shiftworking supertrucker = almost impossible to manage extra curriculars but I do try to make sure there are plenty of playdates going on.

    The big boy has just joined a choir bless him, and I'm stoked with that!

    Must chat with you about Scouts. I did the whole brownies, guides thing and loved it. Suspect my big two probably would as well :)

  2. Which choir has he joined Kate? Is it Sunbury Kidz? I think being in a choir is pretty darn awesome! I am really lucky in one way having all boys because its all or nothing - they all go to the footy, they all go to cricket, I don't have to do a girl's thing on one day and then run around to a boy's thing half an hour later so its a blessing really! Scouts is awesome. Really really good, they do so many activities and the Scout leaders there are great (female and male leaders which is good) but its quite an expensive exercise - although you get a discount for more than one child. There are quite a lot of girls in Joeys and Cubs if Em is into it too.

  3. Wow - what a great post. Right at the end of a day when I had a crying baby, a 6 year old girl who wanted to make a boxing bag out of an ice-cream box, 6 loads of folding to do, a 3 year old who was Little Miss Chatterbox, pikelets, more baby crying etc etc... I needed to hear that what I do every day does make a difference. Hoorah to you - you soccer mum! {Just perhaps think twice about wearing bike pants and the team's jersey as a crop top - that might be taking it too far}.

  4. B, I think I might end up looking more like a stuffed walrus team mascot if I wore bike pants and a crop top hahahaha


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you taking the time xxx

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