|Of Soccer Moms, Lipstick, and Harleys
Remember in high school, how everyone started judging by appearance? You know, what clothes a girl wore, how much make-up she put on, or if she was "cool." While I really disliked the system we battled with every day, I struggled my way through it. I had friends and hoped they liked me simply for me, but I also kept wearing designer jeans and eye shadow and lipstick.
I had hoped after high school, or even college, it would stop. I now know that unless I move to a commune and live with hippies, and worship some esoteric ideal...well, judging on appearance is always going to be part of life.
Where am I going with this? To the soccer field!
Every fall a new season begins. The parents and elementary-aged children gather together, find the coach and get the new t-shirts bearing the team name. We follow the schedule and show up for every game.
What do people do when gathered into groups? We separate out with others that seem to be "most like us." This year, I've noticed three distinct groups of moms at these games: Classic Soccer Moms, All-Natural Moms, and Harley Moms.
I'm not particularly proud of this, but I fall into ranks with the Classic Soccer Moms: twin sets, lipstick, every hair in place, slim and going for a stylish, yet appropriate appearance. Yes, I was a cheerleader in high school, old habits die hard.
The All-Natural Moms are those I really envy. They eschew makeup and flashy clothes and look comfortable in their own skins. Pleasant when spoken to, they don't go out of their way to initiate contact.
Sandy, my favorite, has beautiful auburn hair and always glows with a kindness that makes me happy to have met her. I'm also thankful that there are 10 more games this season giving me more opportunities to talk with her. She occupies the same bleacher every game, wears no makeup, and frankly is a heavy woman. I respect her for being so "there" and for not covering her very fun freckles with smears of makeup. Her smile is unfettered, free, and unassuming. My life is better from having met her.
This season, there's also a group of Harley Moms. These women ride their motorcycles and enjoy life to the fullest in their own way. They joke about drinking games, their motorcycles, and where they plan to ride next weekend. They seem to live life boldly with a sort of "in you face approach." They're rougher around the edges and more nervy in all exchanges with other Moms, especially the Soccer Moms. No surprise there.
Last week, I was near a Harley Mom and happened to ask for the game score. Her first reaction was a side-long glance at me...as if I had insulted her while sitting next to her at a bar. When she saw that my inquiry was an honest one, we chatted for a few minutes. I felt the ice melting between us as we relayed stories about how our sons played together to score a point for our team.
This season we're lucky in that no single mom is hard-core. None of the Soccer Moms are exceptionally snotty, the Harley Moms are chilling out, and the All-Naturals, they're just going with the flow. While there are obvious differences among all of us, and we tend to group together in loose cliques. In spite of that, we're all on the same cheering squad for our team.
Yes, there's tension. One mom talks about trademarking the Harley engine sound, while another is much more interested in getting a new fence built, or the newest fashion for capri pants. Yet, we all get along. Sometimes we hold our tongues, sometimes we ask questions and learn new things. Whether it is how to grow asparagus, or how to dress for a swanky wedding, or even why it's important to tune up a car on a regular basis, we're all learning. Mostly I think, we're learning tolerance.
We transcend all of this when we cheer for our boys. All of us, lipstick or no, cheer our hearts out. We share a deep understanding of how very much each loves her son, in her own way. With each victory or defeat, we support each other, our children, and we YELL for the team.
At the end of the game, we chat about the score, find out about the next practice, gather our things, and wave goodbye. We go back to our respective homes and carry on with our lives. But on that one day, we shared 2-3 hours of game time; we left our comfort zones and entered each others' lives. Sharing that experience enriches each and every one of us.