I Didn’t Choose the Soccer Mom Life, The Soccer Mom Life Chose Me

When I was younger, I loved to play baseball. I started tee-ball at the age of five and played up until my sophomore year of high school. It was the thing I loved to do the most and I can still recall some of the best plays I made during my 13 years on the field. When I became a parent hoped that my children would find something they loved as much as I loved playing baseball and if I were lucky, I knew there was a small possibility that they would share the same love for baseball that I did. So, when my daughter turned five, I did what any self-respecting former athlete would do. I signed her up for tee-ball!

Much to my chagrin we made it through two seasons before she decided that tee-ball was boring, and she wanted to quit. I spoke to her about what it means to make a commitment and told her that once the season was over, if she no longer wanted to play then we could find something else. And that is exactly what we did. She tried taekwondo, she tried gymnastics, she also served a short stint as a cheerleader but none of those things seemed to stick. Right around the time she began losing interest in cheerleading my son was turning five, so we decided once again to try our hand at tee-ball and once again our child was not happy so after he fulfilled his commitment, we allowed him to quit and both kids took a short break from sports.

Just as I was beginning to accept that neither of my children were interested in athletics it happened, the day I had always dreaded!

I picked them up from their afterschool program where they were planning a small talent show and both kids announced that they’d be doing soccer for the talent show. Soccer? Neither of my them knew anything about soccer outside of what may or may not have been taught in gym class, so this came as a surprise to me. They then announced that they wanted me to sign them up to play on a soccer team. My heart sank! I tried to avoid the request and I am embarrassed now to say that it took multiple requests from each child before I bit the bullet and did some research on local soccer programs.

I had always been of the mind set that I’d never be a soccer mom. The middle-class suburban housewife who drove a minivan and donned her yoga pants at every opportunity while sipping her six-dollar latte was never something I aspired to be, and I often criticized that type of parent for being so predictable.

So, while desperately clinging to the idea that even if my children played the game, I would still be me and wouldn’t allow myself to be pushed into the stereotypical mold that is a soccer mom, I put my kid’s happiness before my own and I signed them up for their first season of soccer. One season quickly spiraled into multiple and eventually turned into my husband and sister-in-law coaching teams for one or both of my children at any given time due to a lack of volunteers.

I had to admit, soccer was a harder sport than I realized, it was a fast-paced game that required both skill and stamina It was also more fun to watch than I had previously imagined. I began to enjoy going to practices and games and sure, my kids played soccer, but I still didn’t drive the minivan and I didn’t live at the field, so I didn’t fit the stereo type. My kids played casually they didn’t play club soccer. That soccer mom stereotype must’ve been molded to fit club moms because It didn’t fit the mom of a casual player.

And then it happened again!

The day came when my husband and I realized that our children really loved the game and if they wanted to be able to keep playing then they needed more than what our local city program could offer them. So, I swallowed my pride and did research on the local club soccer programs and signed them up for tryouts. Both kids made their respective teams.

A new journey was about to begin, and we had no idea what we were in for.

What came next was a whirlwind of games, practices, camps, and private training sessions.  My daughter being older needed a helping hand in bridging the skill gap between herself and her teammates and the other parents were kind enough to offer suggestions for private trainers or extra classes she could take to catch up and while it was helpful, I felt like there were ulterior motives behind their willingness to share their knowledge. You know what they say, the team is only as good as its weakest link, or something like that.

A few practices in to their first season of club soccer we were invited to go to dinner with a few of my daughter’s teammate’s families after training. They were an especially social group, and this was something we’d need to start getting used to, but I didn’t have a problem with that, in fact I welcomed it. It reminded me of the comradery I experienced when I played youth sports and I was happy that my daughter had found her place.

Whenever these group outings would occur the girls would get excited and would often negotiate with their parents on who they could ride with to games or other events. The first time that it was decided that they wanted to ride with us was the moment I realized why all the families owned SUV’s or minivans. My daughter was ecstatic as she and several of her teammates approached me asking if they could ride with us to dinner. At that point, my husband and I both drove small four door vehicles and there was no way I was going to be able to fit multiple10-year-olds in my tiny Volkswagen. The disappointment on my daughter’s face was deafening. I looked at my husband and we both knew what was coming. Several weeks later (while wearing my jet-black yoga pants) we traded in my husband’s Silver Saturn Ion for our first minivan, a grey Honda Odyssey with third row seating and plenty of storage space.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

 I was officially a middle-class, yoga pant wearing, minivan driving, mother of two club soccer players. And I didn’t feel any different! I still felt like me. The only thing that had changed was the way I viewed the stereotype that was the proverbial soccer mom. I was now one and I had an inside look at what a soccer mom really is.  

When I look at my fellow soccer moms, I see truth, I see strength, and I see sacrifice.

 I see the single mom who works days and goes to school at night so she can provide her daughter with all the opportunities she never had.

 I see the working mom who spends a full eight-hour day in the office and then spends her evening rushing her children to their games and practices, with no time to change her clothes or grab a snack. She is usually seen on the sidelines in full business attire with her heels sinking into the grass.

I see the mom with multiple kids whose husband travels for work and even though it can be difficult to ask others for help, she does, for the benefit of her children.

I see the teacher working on her lesson plans from the sideline of her child’s practice because as important as it is for her to be there for her kids, she wants to show up for yours too!

I see the team mom, who struggles as much as the rest of us but pushes herself even harder to make sure that we are all organized and where we need to be when we need to be there because she knows life is hard and we need to support each other.  

These mothers are pigeonholed based on observations made by those outside the sports world and although some of the descriptions may be accurate, they don’t provide you with a full picture. Soccer moms are a support system, they are a team! A team I’m proud to be a part of.  

We don the yoga pants because they are comfortable and easy to throw on at a moment’s notice.

We drink the latte’s because we are tired and in desperate need of caffeine.  

We buy the minivans so our kids can stay connected on and off the field and so that we can help each other with the kids when one of us has a little too much on her plate and needs a helping hand.

Soccer isn’t just a sport, it is a community, one I’m glad my children chose for us.

Oh, and to lacrosse mom on the other side of the aisle trying to keep her son from hitting passersby with his stick as he unpacks his gear for another practice: I’ve been there! Your next latte is on me!


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Digital Media: A Day In the Life

SNHU -Social Media & Marketing Communications Class Assignment

Digital media is defined as information that is broadcast to an audience through a screen and in a world where things are digitized more than ever before we find ourselves using various types of digital media throughout the course of our day.

We use digital media when we watch videos on YouTube, we use it when we binge watch a show on Netflix, do some online shopping or read a blog on WordPress and while we may be unaware, the social media sites that we utilize on a daily basis are also considered digital media.

As an older millennial I grew up in a time before cell phones and social media existed. I had the luxury of making my mistakes in private instead of having them broadcasted on a mega social platform where the decisions made in my youth could affect my future even before I was able to understand the ramifications of those choices.

However,  I also benefited from growing up with technology and as it evolved, I evolved. My first cell phone was an old Nokia 5165 with the changeable face and the card you preloaded onto your phone so you could call your friends. You know, the phone you could run over with your car and it would still work just as good as the day you purchased it. But the phone I use today is considerably different.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

While my first cell phone didn’t have a camera or voice recording capabilities, that technology is overwhelmingly accessible to us now. At the click of a button, we can download barrage of applications right on our mobile devices that allow us to capture and edit video and voice recordings and post them directly to our social media pages. These capabilities allow us to market ourselves easily and effectively to the world outside, both personally and professionally.

I use a multitude of media applications daily in addition to using top social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Dolby for instance, is a free application downloadable on your phone or PC that allows you to record songs, voice memos and other sounds at the click of a button. The application utilizes noise reduction software so that your recordings come out clear and crisp and it also has features that allow you to share your audio clips directly to your social media outlets. I use this application when recording interviews with local business owners for my blog. It is an excellent way for me to capture the conversation and refer to it for missed details or quotes I may need when writing a feature.

Although I do prefer my Nikon when taking photos, I also utilize my phone’s built-in camera application  and even Instagram to take photos and videos and also use Samsung notes for jotting down my story ideas that way no matter where I am I can refer back to them later when it is time to begin writing. I also find that being able to access my email at a moment’s notice is especially valuable for conducting business so I have all three of my email addresses set up under Microsoft Outlook so that I can receive notifications instantly and reply to others in a timely fashion.

I find using the various types of media to be a somewhat pleasant experience. The convenience that the different media types provide me make my everyday life easy to navigate, especially when trying to conduct business on my lunch break or from the sidelines of one of my child’s soccer games. But I do also suffer some of the negative affects that can come with utilizing social media, especially around election time or when sorting my emails to eliminate unwanted solicitors and spam.

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

After starting this blog, I have been met with a deluge of online advertising geared toward helping me promote my business. At first, I’d wonder how Facebook knew to target small business ads on my timeline and then I remembered how interconnected media these days is. Everything we do online is seen and kept track of in some manner and I think this is a huge benefit for digital media marketing. Although having your online movements tracked can seem like an invasion of privacy, I do think there are benefits for the everyday user as well. Those seeking to market their brands and products and have their ads pushed under the nose of their target demographic based on a little algorithm created by the social site they are using to publicize their brand; this is just as helpful for small businesses as it is for big dogs like Apple or Android. For users it can be beneficial in helping them locate the right website developer for launching their new business or even finding the right gift for that special someone.

Six Interesting Facts About Women’s Suffrage That You Probably Didn’t Know

In society today women play an intrinsic role in the cultivation of their communities, but this has not always been the case. Not long-ago women lived their lives beholden to the will of men. They lived by the idea that their primary function in society was to play a submissive and domestic role. They were unequal to men, had very few rights and for the most part, were poorly educated.  It took hundreds of years before women began to fight for the same rights and freedoms that were already guaranteed to their male counterparts.

The Women’s Rights Movement began in the 1820’s but didn’t gain steam until 1848 when women’s rights supporters gathered to discuss the issue of women’s rights in the United States. This gathering is known as the Seneca Falls Convention. From that convention sprang a consensus on the issues to be tackled, as well as a wealth of support for the movement. In the wake of this convention several women’s rights organizations were formed. Once such organization, formed in 1913 and lead by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, two well-known women’s rights activists, was the National Woman’s Party (formerly the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage), which played an integral part in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 The women of the National Woman’s party employed a myriad of tactics when fighting to win the right to vote. While they used many common methods of protest such as letter writing campaigns and forming protest groups it was their unconventional protest methods, creative thinking and feminine instinct that led to the eventual ratification of the 19th Amendment.

  • Women were the first political activists in the United States to hold protest demonstrations outside the White House.
“Silent sentinel” Alison Turnbull Hopkins at the White House on New Jersey Day . 1917 Courtesy of Women of Protest: Photographs from the records of the National Women’s Party, Manuscript Division, The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Women were meant to be seen and not heard. This was an overwhelmingly held belief throughout society during the early years of the Women’s Rights Movement and women were expected to adhere to it without question. That concept was the inspiration for one of the main methods of protest used during the fight to gain woman suffrage. On January 10, 1917, the women of the National Woman’s Party waged silent protests outside the white house gates for the first time. This form of protest would continue for the next two and a half years. Six days a week protestor from the National Woman’s Party would silently protest at the gates of the White House.

  • Female protestors who were arrested and imprisoned during suffrage protests are the organizers of the first group action ever made that established the status of political prisoners in America.

Lucy Burns was responsible for initiating the activist movement inside the prisons and upon her removal to solitary confinement a piece of paper listing the demands of the prisoners was passed from cell to cell until the document was completed with the demands of signatures of each of the inmates. The document summarized that the group was entitled to their rights of peaceful protests which are guaranteed to them by the Constitution and that by arresting them for exercising their right to protest they violated laws the government had already recognized as legitimate when they pardoned other activists for the same reason. Essentially pointing out the flaws within the justice system.

  • Women imprisoned because of their protests continued their protests from inside their prison cells by waging war on the deplorable living conditions that they were forced to suffer. They broke prison windows to gain access to fresh air and even participated in a hunger strike.

The prisoners banded together to protest their living conditions first by trying to maintain their health by demanding the right to fresh air. They launched an attack on the windows near their cells, utilizing anything they could find (tin cups, books, light bulbs, etc.) and hurling them at the nearby windows. Hunger strikes held by the activists resulted in a campaign of intimidation by the authorities. The women were met with threats, they were bullied and often forced fed through tubes because of their resistance to consume the food served to them while imprisoned.

  • Soiled robes were given to protestors who were imprisoned as a method of humiliation against the suffragettes, but the women responded by using fashion as a form of rebellion and donning the garments during their protests.
Abby Scott Baker in prison dress, 1917. Courtesy of Women of Protest Photographs from the records o f the National Woman’s Party, Manuscript  Division, The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Despite being forced to wear garments that were deliberately soiled and used to humiliate the suffragists, the women’s creative thinking took the garment and transformed it into a badge of honor for those who donned it. They harnessed the suppressive meaning behind the garb and revolutionized it, turning it into a symbol for the women’s suffrage movement.

  • Suffragists used Valentines as a method of protest.

On Valentine’s Day in 1916 Suffragists put an ironic twist on a rather feminine holiday by sending a thousand valentines to politicians urging them to support the suffrage movement. You can view actual valentines sent to the politicians and read more about it at Genealogy Bank.

  • A mother’s handwritten letter to her son urging him to throw his support behind the movement, was the final nail in the coffin for those who opposed the women’s suffrage.
Letter to Harry Burn from Mother, August 1920 [Photograph found in Harry T. Burn Papers, C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library]

Harry T. Burn, the youngest member of the Tennessee State Legislature had voted twice against ratification but upon this third vote he took pause, recalling a letter he had received from his mother Febb Burn, urging him to vote in favor of the amendment. She wrote, “”Dear Son…Hurray and vote for Suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt…. Don’t forget to be a good boy, help…Catt with her ‘Rats.” Her mention of Catt’s Rats was a reference to a political cartoon that had appeared in a local newspaper depicting Carrie Chapman Catt of the National Woman American Suffrage Association, driving the letters “RAT” with a broom, essentially sweeping them up in front of the letters “IFICATION”.  It was this letter from his mother that influenced Burn and compelled him to change his vote from a nay to an aye, officially ratifying the 19th Amendment and sending the Tennessee house into chaos.

The ratification of the 19th Amendment was a victory for women everywhere. The persistence and bravery of the suffragists who fought for equal rights are admirable and one of the main reasons why women today have the freedoms that they do. While the ratification of the 19th Amendment was a huge win for the Women’s Rights Movement and because of its passage women are afforded more rights than ever before, but there is still work to be done!

Greetings!

Every motivational/self help book I have ever read has one thing in common. The Author is always someone or references someone who has decided that they are tired of living an unfulfilling life. They are sick of working a job they hate and they desperately long for change. These people reach a point in their lives where they decide enough is enough and they take that ever so frightening step toward changing the paths of their lives. 

I am one of those people. 

 I am a 37-year-old wife and mother of 2 children. I have a job I like but it is not my passion. I’m overweight. I have a total of 2 close friends. Neither of who I see very often, either due to proximity or conflicting schedules. I live an ordinary life and most of the time I wonder how in the hell I got here.

Once upon at time I had dreams, and not the white picket fence kind. I was going to sing and if that didn’t work out, I was going to become a journalist. But somewhere exceedingly early in life I allowed fear and complacency to suppress those dreams. I lucked into a cozy, part-time office job during my junior year in high school and the rest is history. I spent the next 11 years of my life bouncing from cubicle to cubicle, working for people I wasn’t fond of, in an industry I didn’t choose for myself.

Around 2013, after working for a man who I’m certain was Joseph Stalin in his previous life, I decided It was time to move on even if that meant taking an entry level position with little pay in an industry in which I had zero experience. Within 24 hours of leaving said job I had an interview with a new company and was offered the position three days later.  

It has been seven years since I accepted that position and I am currently still employed with that company. I have had several raises and promotions and have worked my way up the chain a bit. But I am still a lifetime away from being anywhere near the top. I am still just a minion.

On particularly memorable Thursday morning a few years ago started off just like any other day. I woke up to the smiling faces of my kids as they crawled into my bed for another round of “Good morning cuddles”.  We dressed and gathered our things and headed out the door to begin another long day of mediocrity. I dropped the kids at school and headed into the office. I was sucking down my 3rd cup of black coffee when I received an email that sent me into an internal fit of rage. (I’ll admit I can be a bit dramatic). I started to question many of my life choices. Why did I allow myself to fall into this rut? Why didn’t I pursue what I always thought I would? Why am I continuing to waste my life doing things that don’t make me happy? This wasn’t the first time I’d thought about these things, it wasn’t even the 100th time. These thoughts were becoming an everyday occurrence.

I was venting to my husband via text message, like I always do when the actions of others upset me. I told him how I felt like I had screwed up by not attempting to follow a creative job path and how I now felt like I was stuck kissing up to people I didn’t like for the rest of my life just to earn a buck. I shouldn’t have to be the a** kisser; those people should be kissing my a**.  Joking, he replied, “I’m not going to kiss your a**, so don’t ask!” To which I replied, “Bite me.” He said, “I’m not doing that either.  😉” His next text message, although they might seem cliché, had a major impact on me. He said, “Without thinking, answer these 2 questions. If you could do anything, any job, own any business, whatever you want, what would it be?” Without thinking I replied, “Own & run my own bookstore, but we both know, those are becoming obsolete.” He then asked, “If you could go back to school for anything, what would it be?”  I typed the first thing that came to mind, “Writing.” And he said, “Then do it.”  I then began to spew a series of excuses as to why that wasn’t practical. Cost of school, that fact that a degree in writing doesn’t align with my current career path, etc.   To all of which he replied, “You can make as many excuses as you want, or you can look up schools that offer the courses you want. You can research and prepare a business plan and work toward obtaining a business loan. You can get your ideas together and make your dreams come true.”

As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. My excuses didn’t matter. Why did I care if a degree in creative writing didn’t align with my current career path? If I wasn’t satisfied with the path that I was on, that was the time to change it.

Writing has always been in the back of my mind. I can’t tell you the number of times I have sat down in front of my computer with the intention of starting a blog. I reserve the domain and set up the page, but when I sit down to finally put pen to paper, nothing would come out. It wasn’t for a lack of topics. I have a billion ideas swirling around in my head all the time. The issue was that I lacked the tools to take those ideas and turn them into the something great I knew they could be.

After that conversation I spent several hours researching online schools and accreditations and courses and pricing until I finally settled on a school. I submitted a request for information online and within an hour I had received a call from someone at the school who was ready to supply me with all the information I needed to begin my journey.  By the end of the day I had applied to school with the goal of earning a Bachelor’s Degree in creative writing and had submitted my information for financial aid.

I am now in my third year at Southern New Hampshire University online, working toward my BA in English & Creative Writing with a focus in fiction and a minor in communications. On the advice of one of my creative writing professors I submitted one of my short stories to the The Penmen Review, an online journal, and in February of 2021 my story was selected for publication on the site. You can find the link to Times Up under the Portfolio option in the menu bar.  

I also just recently completed collaboration with a group of fellow writers for The Writing Roles Incentive Training Experience (W.R.I.T.E.).  We worked together to create an article aimed at advising novice writers on how they can go about building a writing portfolio. We finished up our final team meeting yesterday and will be submitting the piece today. We are in competition with 14 other groups and the winning article will be published in the Penmen Review and I think we have a good shot!