I've never really felt like the quintessential Soccer Mom...heck, I'm not sure if I even know what that actually is. I mean, yeah, I've been ferrying my kids and their gear to practice since the first one started participating in organized....running around with a ball...when he was 6 years old. And I've been on the sidelines every weekend--and some mid-week-nights--for probably 99.9% of their games, regardless of blazing heat, ferocious winds, unpleasant drizzles, or bone-chilling temps. So I guess you could truthfully conclude that our family has been arranging our lives around the soccer season...making plans and arranging activities based on match times...for quite a while. (Hold on...maybe I AM the poster child for Soccer Mom-hood...okay, then...)
Really, though, all of this was relatively uncomplicated when we lived in Maryland and the kids played for the local recreational league, where the field were all within a few miles of our house. Things got significantly more...let's just say "frenetic"....when we moved to North Carolina and faced not one, but three different levels of play, and had to sort it all out. What we've learned from our time here thus far is that unless you play the purely "for funsies" division, you're gonna do some traveling and face opposition from other area clubs outside of your own organization. This applied to both Derek and Riley last season--basically, each week we potentially had contests on Saturday, Sunday...or one of each...and up to 30 miles away, Then there was the added...joy...of Derek having 3 practices a week, 2 of which were scheduled at fields about a half-hour away. (At least Riley's were only Tuesday/Thursday...and a 10-minute jaunt.)
Well, we are now officially D-O-N-E...for a bit. Both boys' final tournaments have wrapped up, so we should all be sitting around relaxing, right? Hahahahaha, perish the thought! The Powers That Be set up Tryouts for the week immediately following the season, which I suppose makes sense, ensuring that everyone is still in shape and hasn't forgotten the fine art of how to kick a ball around. We hope Derek's trial is more of a formality, as he wants to continue with the team to which he currently belongs. And we believed...just for a hot minute...that we might be catching a real break with the other one. You see, we had discussed some potential paths with Riley, such as continuing to compete at the mid-tier--which is totally fine, of course--or maybe testing himself to see if he would qualify for the more intensive program. His initial response was dramatic and definitive, "Oh, NO! I don't want to practice that much, or travel that far...I'm just not as committed to soccer as Derek is."
Oh...kay then, dear. (We've got it; consider the subject dropped. Sheesh!) Not long after that, he even began making noises about maybe wanting to take a little hiatus from soccer...try something new...perhaps join his Middle School cross-country club instead. Honestly, he sounded just a smidge burned out. However, knowing Riley as we do, we gently suggested he go through with the auditions anyway, even if he ultimately decided he didn't want to play, just to make sure the coaches got a look at him,could accurately assess his skills, and would be able to place him should he, you know, change his mind (as he is wont to do).
He agreed, somewhat grudgingly, and trotted out there for the 3 DAYS of scrimmages. A curious change came over him during the experience, though: he seemed to be enjoying himself, and really intent on making a good showing. Then when I picked him up after the second night he dropped this doozy on me, "You know, if I make a Classic team (the top group)...I think I want to accept it." Focused on making a difficult left-hand turn at the time, I nodded absently and murmured, "Oh, that's nice, honey." Wait a minute...back up...WHAT? Holy Complete 180, Batman, what just happened? He continued thoughtfully, "Yeah, I feel like I should play to the level I'm capable of...and (here it comes) I hope I get picked. So now, from a prior state of calm, mellow, no-pressure...ness, my Maternal Anxiety shot right on up through the roof. (Sample Internal Dialogue of Doom: "Oh, dear--what if he isn't offered a spot? Will he be crushed? He says he doesn't have a good sense of how he performed during the tryouts...what if it wasn't enough? Aaargh!")
Then...we waited. The players were told at the last meeting that they'd hear in the next few days if they were selected for a Classic team. Friday, nothing...Saturday, nothing. We didn't talk about it, but the prevailing sentiment--while nevertheless still keeping our fingers firmly crossed--was that perhaps it would be the Challenge league again. Well, the email came in Saturday night at 11 p.m...designating a roster spot for him on the Porto squad. (Yeah, they're all named after real European teams). Fortunately, I didn't see it until Sunday morning, or I might have felt compelled to pounce on Riley and wake him up with the news. As it was, when I shared it with him he began caroming around the house like...some kind of spastic bunny...before taking a screenshot of the message on my phone...and posting it to his Instagram. (Kids these days...)
The bottom line for Team WestEnders (besides being very proud of him, of course) is that he'll now be jumping into the veritable whirlwind-'o-soccer where his brother already hangs out. First, we do actually get a breather; as Derek's only options in the Fall are to play for his High School or the low-key Rainbow Club. Thus we'll only have to commute all over God's Green Earth for one kid. Then...the Spring will possibly require a logistical magician (I dare you to try to say that 3 times fast)...along with a caffeine drip. We'll have 2 kids with 3 practices each, probably at conflicting times and almost definitely not in the same place...or even in proximity to each other....or anywhere near where we live. And on weekends, we might have to divide and conquer--"Which team did you see last week? Okay, let's switch. Tell the other one good luck from me!" Chaos will most certainly ensue. All I can say is...they're lucky we love them...and also the Beautiful Game!