SALT LAKE CITY — After 12 long years, today I finally earned my soccer mom badge.
No, it didn't come when I packed up my five young kids (at the time) and trekked through the masses of people to locate the tiny field my 5-year-old son would play on just in time for the whistle to blow. No, I didn't earn my badge when I signed up to coach my son's team without having any knowledge of the sport, nor did it come when I did the same thing a dozen years later when I took over for my husband who shirked from his duties due to what he described as PTSD caused by recreation soccer.
Many will sew on a soccer mom badge for the bowl full of sliced oranges that they toted to the field and distributed at halftime. I didn't get that badge because I'm not that kind of girl (not that there's anything wrong with that).
You'd think that driving my kids to and from soccer practices — one being an hour away — would make me feel worthy of the badge that many moms wear for much lesser actions (by the way, I don't recommend doing this).
You'd think that pulling weeds for an entire summer with my boys while doing our "pulling weeds for soccer fees" fundraiser would cause me to add a "soccer mom" bumper sticker to the back of my van-that-smells-like-shin-guards (if you know, you know).
Sending my kids to out-of-state tournaments; packing my family of 11 in our van to drive 10 hours to a tournament that I didn't even get to watch because I was chasing kids around; watching games from said van while babies screamed in my ears and drew on the steam-filled windows; missing key moments in games even though I was right there; going to a Real Salt Lake practice just for the chance of meeting Kyle Beckerman — none of these actions made me feel like I had been fully baptized into the soccer mom world.
But today, I was. Today, I think I can fully embrace the title without a doubt.
Today, I sat through an hour of pelting rain and bitter wind, and I was totally unprepared for the conditions that came. It's Utah and the skies started out blue. What more can I say?
Yet, for an entire hour, I sat in my lawn chair curled up like a baby with my hoodie cinched up over my head and chin as I watched my son play his high school soccer game.
I channeled my inner Wim Hof as I hunkered down mentally inside my freezing physical self. If my son could run around in the freezing rain, I could certainly sit in it. I yelled out words to encourage the team, making sure that none of the words included letters that would require my lips to move — because at that point I wasn't even sure that I had lips. "Yay, Tea!" was all I could muster. There is no "m" in team when it's -500 degrees outside.
I was about to tap out when, out of my limited peripheral vision, I saw another mom doing the very thing I was. "I can't let her win," I thought. Also, by this point, I wasn't sure that I had feet to walk myself out of there with. "If I die here, at least I know I gave it a good effort," was an actual thought that fleeted through my numbing brain.
With 14 minutes left in the game, I was on the home stretch. "I can do anything for 14 minutes," I told myself.
Then, the game stopped. I heard whispers of lightning sightings, and I began to wonder if I would need to endure another game like this to feel entirely accepted by my soccer mom superiors.
Indeed it was lightning, but there was more.
"Lightning was spotted 10 miles away," the school administrator said from under the protection of her sheltered golf cart. "We're going to take a 30-minute break, and then start up again."
Today my name is no longer Arianne. I. AM. SOCCER MOM.
When did you first know that you were a soccer mom (or dad)? Let us know in the comment section.