When I turned 30 two years ago, just a few months after I (reluctantly) became the owner of a Carolina blue minivan, my brother and his friends thought it would be funny to slap a magnetic soccer ball on the back of my van and not tell me.
It took me a good day to realize it was there. And I still chuckle to myself when I see it.
I think my brother’s point was that I – the cool older sister who took him to his first concert, hosted him and his friends for the weekend numerous times throughout their college years and could still hold her own (though barely) partying with him- was slowly but surely becoming a soccer mom. First came the house in a subdivision, then the two kids and the minivan, and finally my 30th birthday, which must have seemed “so old” to him (I’m nearly seven years his elder).
Although I kept the magnet, I’ve been trying to fight the image. Because I really don’t want to become a stereotype.
But as my daughter and I pulled into the parking lot of a local park in my minivan-with-a-magnet this morning for soccer tryouts, I felt like it might be time to abandon the fight and accept what I’ve become. As Cera took to the field, I joined the other soccer moms on the sidelines.
And I happily realized that I have a long way to go before I achieve stereotype status.
First and foremost, I wasn’t wearing the proper attire. Apparently, there are two choices for today’s soccer mom: preppy, which includes shorts or capris in khaki or black, a brightly colored, collared shirt and leather sandals, preferably with some sort of jeweled embellishment; or athletic, where you are decked from head to toe in a color-coordinated, yet sporty outfit that is covered in Nike swooshes. Accessories include sneakers that look like they’re being worn for the very first time and a water bottle (in addition to the one you should be carrying for your child, of course).
Secondly, I wasn’t lugging around a big camera. In fact, I didn’t even take my camera – this was tryouts, not a game. But even if I had felt the need to document my daughter proving that she can kick a ball and run backwards, my little pocket-sized Canon Digital Elph would have felt inadequate in comparison (hey, if it’s good enough for Maria Sharapova, it’s good enough for me). To reach full stereotype status, I need a much bigger camera, preferably with a telephoto lens and a tripod.
And finally, I wasn’t standing right up against the fence and barking orders at Cera about what I thought she should be doing. Instead, I tried to blend into the background, as I felt this was a day for Cera to show the attending coaches what she really does – and doesn’t – know about playing soccer. I didn’t want her to feel pressure to impress me. I wanted her to play for herself and have fun in the process.
So, no, I am not a soccer mom yet. And I may never be. I will faithfully go to all the games and practices and cheer on my daughter. But I’ll be wearing whatever is clean (and comfortable) that morning and carrying my camera in my pocket.
Do I think that makes me better than the other moms?
But it makes me atypical. And that’s exactly what I want to be.