Heather, Michael and Kaitlin arrive Saturday morning at 7:45 to the Westside Soccer Fields for their first All Star Game. They park in between two identical black Mercedes SUVs and Kaitlin runs ahead, eager to join the warm up.
“Good luck,” Heather calls after her, hoping she hasn’t made a mistake in letting Kaitlin join this league. The coach had made an exception despite of Kaitlin’s age. She’d missed the cutoff by a few days, but he’d been so impressed with her skill and determination that he practically begged to have Kaitlin on his team. Admittedly, Heather had been flattered. Who wouldn’t want to hear their offspring regarded as extremely talented?
However, after meeting the other mothers at the first practice, Heather began doubt her decision. The conversations revolved around exclusive east coast summer soccer camps, Ivy League teams and private coaches. Heather thought the girls were playing for fun. After all, they were seven and eight years old.
“Not everyone gets a trophy in this league,” Heather says as she and Michael lug their large folding chairs up the hill and find a spot on the sidelines.
“It builds character,” Michael says.
Several games are occurring simultaneously. Referees blow their whistles and balls fly in every direction. Parents are socializing and Heather is still trying to wake up. Michael puts his arm around her.
“You should say good morning to the moms you’ve met,” he says.
“I know,” she replies and looks around. One nanny looks familiar but Heather can’t recall her name. The eight other mothers look different today. Their hair looks like it’s just been groomed at the local Dry Bar. They wear tight fitting designer pants and expensive boots. The most glamorous of the bunch is sitting in her maroon USC folding chair, long legs crossed, a Starbucks in hand, and she’s wearing a black fur vest. Heather looks at her own lint-covered tracksuit and wishes she could go home and change. The new soccer mom has apparently evolved into a Fembot. Silicon filled, botox injected. Everyone is cool and literally smooth. Heather thinks that they look more like Posh Spice rooting for David Beckham then moms at 8 am. How did they manage to get out of the door looking this way? Heather can’t move from her chair.
A loud whistle blows and Kaitlin dashes by wearing her purple and black jersey. She passes the ball upfield to a teammate and Heather claps. The daughter of the Fembot in the black fur vest scores and the crowd cheers. The woman stays in her seat and claps like she’s at the Hollywood Bowl.
By the end the teams are tied with one point each. Kaitlin’s coach calls a time out and rearranges their field positions. Kaitlin is put in as goalie. Heather smiles and waves as her daughter slips into the bright red pinny. She admires Kaitlin’s confidence but feels a sense of guilt. Maybe she should have hired a private to coach to work with her this past week? In the last minutes of the game, a tall, lanky girl dribbles down the center of the field, easily passing the defenders and heading directly toward the goal. She shoots and the ball soars over Kaitlin’s head. The ref blows the whistle and the game ends with a loss, 2 to 1.
The Fembots quickly fold their chairs, anxious to leave the field. Heather stays still. Her face is flushed and her hands are sweaty. There is a quick: two, four, six, eight but no one sounds like they mean it. Kaitlin’s teammates rush toward their mothers and gather their SIG water bottles. Kaitlin collapses in Heather’s lap. She feels the full weight of her seven year old.
“This isn’t fun,” Kaitlin says in between sobs.
Heather watches the robotic mothers leave. They move quickly past them as if Kaitlin’s failure on the field is contagious.
“I know,” Heather says. Saying anything else would feel like a lie.
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or events.