We were so excited to see you return this fall. You’d been gone for so long and we'd missed your action, your excitement and the regularity you added to our schedule. We were double stoked this year because we had two kids who would become involved with you. We thought this year would be way easier because I was not 20 months pregnant.
When we got your schedule, we were pleased to see that Laylee and Magoo had no conflicting games or practices. Laylee would always enjoy you Mondays and Wednesdays while Magoo would be yours Tuesdays and Thursdays. Laylee would catch up with you in one town, Magoo in another.
Once we figured out where to go and what to do, we found your first few practices thrilling. The kids loved you. Even Wanda was excited because she got to spend time with you almost every single day of the week.
Then school started and your time-sucking ways showed no mercy. You didn’t care if it was a heavy homework day or if the baby needed a nap. Even in the pouring rain, you demanded our attendance. I know I’d invited you into our lives fully aware of your nature but your needy and relentlessly selfish ways frequently shocked me as you demanded the precious hour and a half surrounding dinner time day after day after day after day.
Our coaches and their families were even more swallowed up by your every whim. We so appreciate all their work and energy that kept us coming back for more week after week. And we did keep coming back. And there are things we loved about you.
You taught Magoo to put on his own shin guards and to grin while running, falling and standing in the goal watching balls whiz past his little melon head.
You made Laylee run more than she runs the other 10 months of the year combined. You introduced her to new friends and encouraged her to start thinking about sports strategy to invent new positions for herself that precluded her from doing so much of the aforementioned running.
I even made new friends because of you, friends who now encourage me to get up at five in the morning to engage in brutal physical exercise. I’m counting this in the list of positives although I’m not exactly sure why.
Whenever I smell grass and sweat and stinky shoes, I will think fondly of the way my kids looked when they accidentally scored a goal or as they were devouring a snack at half-time with their friends.
You have instilled in my children a love of orange slices that I hope will keep them from contracting scurvy well into their teenage years.
When I’m sitting at home on weeknights, unrushedly helping the kids with their homework or enjoying a leisurely family meal, I will think of the effort it took to calm and entertain the one-year-old who you never let play with the game ball. Sure, there were six other balls on the sidelines but she wanted to be part of the team and you never let it happen.
As I sip my hot cocoa and watch the rain outside, I’ll remember the end of the season when it got dark by the end of the games, the times it rained on us and how the babies and camping chairs and car seats and bodies were so frequently covered with mud.
I’ll also remember the cheerleading and the goals scored on the wrong net, the side aches and the triumphant feeling of watching the kids do a really good drive and then actually pass the ball to a teammate. I’ll remember the good and the bad but I’ll really enjoy remembering it and not living it every single stinkin’ day. I can’t lie. I’m so ready to end you.
And so I say, “Farewell, thou lovely soccer season. Don’t let the door hit you. Buuuut…. we’ll probably be in touch ten months from now.”