Sweet Chaos

Twice or three times a week, I would drive the ‘mom’s taxi’ to the practice grounds.   Armed with study guides, notebooks and highlighters, I would sit in the car parked up alongside the football field for an hour or two. Whilst my three sons slipped and slid over the muddy ground I would sip from my thermos mug of black coffee, as I read and highlighted the important bits of brain research theory.  Reptilian, Limbic, Neocortex. Which part was which and what part of our body did each control?

Does the release of cortisol into the body boost our adrenaline to support fight or flight?  Can we control our fight/flight reflex at all? What enables the brain to function the best?  How and why do we think and how does that make us feel? What are the neurons for? And just what is the synaptic gap? So many questions to consider. 

With the light quickly fading and the evening mist arising, it was already a cold winter’s evening.  Engrossed in a wordy piece of research about brain theory, my own neocortex was replicating the weather which was becoming foggier by the moment.  I struggled on with trying to understand the difficult words and the configuration of the brain. 

The end of practice session was signaled by a piercing whistle which alerted all the soccer mums to the imminent arrival of their hungry and muddy kids.  I sighed and snapped the study guide shut. The next two hours would by far be the toughest and most chaotic part of my day. I briefly wondered which part of my brain would win the battle.

I had to rush home to get the dinner started, bring in the days washing – if it had actually been pegged onto the clothesline that morning –  supervise the homework, sort out the silly sibling squabbles, walk the dog, kick the cat off yesterday’s pile of washing, feed the cat, dog and the kids, supervise the hot showers or baths of muddy kids and throw another load of laundry into the washing machine.

The joys of being the ‘soccer mum’ and the ‘paid to work’ mum. Both roles have their own rewards. One financial and the other emotional.  Sometimes I struggled enjoying either of these rewards. The financial rewards of the one very quickly became the emotional reward of the other.  At least I could pay for those soccer fees and the purchase of the ever-increasing sizes in football boots. 

After a tough day in the office, I had to make the best of a bad bargain. Although it wasn’t exactly a toss of the coin it seemed like it was always my job to  pick up the boys from school and get them to soccer practice on time. The coach’s standard rule was any player turning up late to practice. had to sit on the bench for at least the first half of the Saturday game. Such a responsibility – but what else are soccer mums for?  Oh wait – there are soccer mum rules? How did I miss that memo?
Soccer mum sideline support rules:  

  1. Don’t be a sideline critic. Remember those referees are volunteer parents too.  They may not  be as dedicated as this ‘soccer mom extraordinaire’ but they are an essential part of match day. Who else  can you blame when your kids are losing….?
  2. Be the grand provider of the oranges when the Saturday morning half time whistle was blown. How many times did you cut those oranges into quarters ready for the slobbering grins of the thirsty players?
  3. Make sure the kids have all their gear  especially those football boots and shin pads
  4. Get them to the game on time.

And at the end of the muddy match, there is the inevitable ‘post-mortem’ commentary from the father figure forgetting that he was not the actual coach. Meanwhile, I just loaded those muddy kids into plastic rubbish  bags tied up just above their necks for the car journey home. Once home they were hosed off before they were allowed to enter the house. They were of course allowed to have hot showers  but the first ritual was the cold hose-off in the garden to rinse off the worst of the mud. What other soccer moms did this cruel thing, I wondered?

Rummaging in my desk drawer for a couple of AA batteries for the tv remote, I glanced longingly at my expired passport. “How long has it been since I had enjoyed the freedom of the young traveler’s lifestyle,” I pondered.  Fond memories flickered through my mind and blocked the sound of the tv blaring through the living room door.

In an instant I was back there, sitting in the dappled shade of the river bank, sipping from a champagne flute, giggling as the bubbles tickled my nose. I could hear the babbling of the water as it trickled it’s way downstream.  I stretched my toes out and wriggled them into the long grass.  The picnic blanket was crumpled beneath the remains of our feast. The soft cheese mingled with the grape stalks and the breadcrumbs. The discarded bottle had rolled onto the grass. My traveling companion was passed out on the rug. I was  basking in the summer warmth. All was calm, everywhere were happy people relaxing and enjoying summer. Time for a little snooze time, I thought …. and yet, I felt something was missing. Something was wrong. At the edge of my mind, I could hear something. And I lost focus. 

Once again I was back into my sweet chaotic world. “Mommy, mommy, he hit me…!