I'm just a regular soccer mom...
Last night Banana had her last practice for the fall season. Her team was the regular season champs and are headed into the tournament in the #1 seed. This is really fantastic for a team that didn't win a game last season. I am so proud of her. She is working harder each day to be better at something that doesn't come easy for her. She may never be the best soccer player on the team, but I am truly impressed with her diligence and good attitude.
Since we home school, soccer is my one affiliation with other moms in our community. I am blessed to have a wonderful home schooling support network, as well as a parish that is chock full of large families. These sometimes become a little bubble world for me. Soccer takes me out of that bubble. I am forced to confront society at large. Except that by society at large I mostly mean the middle class, suburban, society that is my local community.
I have a rule that when meeting someone new I can mention that I have six children, OR I can mention that I home school. However, it is in my best interest not to divulge both in a single conversation. Either one of those things is so out of the norm for these soccer moms, that one can be somewhat explained, both must mean I am a certifiable.
Thankfully no one has been downright rude (OK, one of the soccer dads said, "Ohhhh, you're one of those crazy people" when I said we homeschooled-- of course following my rule, he had no idea I had six children. I just blew him off.). Mostly I hear things like, "You must be supermom." "You must have a lot of patience." "I could never do that." or worse, "You must be a saint."
What am I supposed to say to that? Do I offer some half hearted, even if it is true, rebuff at my parenting skills? Something that lets them know I'm no expert, and occasionally (truthfully, quite frequently) make just as many parenting mistakes as the next soccer mom. Do I mention how little patience I have, especially in those moments where the baby is fussing, Joseph is again playing in the toilet, while I am attempting to give a spelling test to Bear, Banana is asking some Math question, and Juju and Bophie are again bickering over a doll that is adding its own silly cries to the rabble that seems to be growing louder by the minute? Really, does anyone want to hear that? Do I really want to divulge those gory details of family life to practical strangers? (Better to divulge them to complete strangers by posting on the Internet :) )
On the other hand, I could agree with them, tell them I am supermom. I mean here I am (always with at least one extra kid in tow) on time to practice, after finishing a day of school, preparing dinner, and, usually, I even make it a point to shower and be presentable. As any homeschooling mom of six (with four under five) knows, this is quite the feat of superhero proportions. Never mind that I am well aware that I am anything but a superhero. Do I try to explain that I am only a saint in as much as I try, albeit very feebly, to live out this vocation I am called to? Would they even know what I meant by vocation? Not a job, not a chore, not a responsibility, not a choice, but rather a calling.
In the end, I mumble something mostly unintelligible. I fumble my words. I am quite certain my face turns about six shades of red. I stammer, look down, and then do my best to change the subject.
The truth is, I want to say something. I want to tell them how great my kids are. Tell them that each child brings a new wonderful dimension to our family. That life without anyone of them would seem somehow incomplete. I want to explain about the grace God gives me each day to handle a task that, while often overwhelming, brings innumerable and completely unfathomable rewards. That, yes indeed, my life is chaotic, noisy, and busy. My vocation as a mom is tiring, overwhelming, and often menial, but it is my calling and in the midst of immense chaos there is a truly beautiful peace that I know I am doing the will of God and fulfilling that call.
Since I can't seem to eloquently respond, how could anyone (least of all frazzled and inarticulate me), encapsulate all the beauty of the vocation of motherhood in a sound bite? I only hope that when they see me on Saturdays schlepping all the little ones through the soccer fields, they can sense it. That somehow God's light shines through the chaos of snacks, diapers, and keeping little ones busy while cheering on older ones.
After all, I can't do this all on my own, I'm no supermom.