March 11, 2015

Lesson 205: The Soccer Mom Blues (and Other Issues)

Yesterday ended with an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach, one so awkward that I left my bed to write a late night blog post. Something was off.

I was lying there biting the side of my mouth a little. Scrunching up my eyes. Going over the events of the afternoon again and again, trying to figure out what it was that I had missed, how could I have planned better, what should I have said to come across more ... confident, knowledgable, prepared.

The scene of my unease?

The parents meeting immediately following Samara's first soccer practice.

Yes friends, we have officially entered the world of organized sports, or if today's practice was any indication, the world of organized amoebas. Everyone, follow the ball!

As first time parents, Mark and I were reasonably excited. The previous week, Mark had been sent out with our little kicker to purchase proper, gender neutral attire, and I have to say, when I saw her skipping onto the field in her hot pink shin guards and hot pink cleats carrying her hot pink ball, I was glad he had ignored my very clear instructions.

But, why was the parents' meeting so strange? Well, as it turns out, I was leading it.

This was never the plan. I had fully intended on donating one week's worth of orange slices and Gatorades and never worrying about the intricacies of post-game snacks again. But the call came out that the league needed more "Team Parent" volunteers and like any other sacrificial parent, I signed Mark up.

Unfortunately, there was a mix-up and when the team email went out, I was shocked and not the most happy to see my name clear as day next to the title.

Mark thought it was hilarious.

I know this does not sound like a big deal at all, but y'all, I do not organize things. I'm not the team captain, I'm not the class president, I'm not even really a helper to these people. I was reminiscing with a seminary friend this past weekend about my presence when prepping for large events. I always showed up first and always left last. My job? Sitting on a stool in the kitchen entertaining all the people actually preparing for the event.

I do not make phone calls. I do not return text messages in a timely fashion. And I certainly do not delegate snack duty.

So, there I was, the newbie to the league, the sport, and the role, explaining to the other newbies about the location of the concession stand, the time of team pictures, and just how exactly I planned to get those kids their juice boxes.

It was awful.

But that wasn't the only disconcerting thought stewing in my mind pre-bedtime. Because you see, just before practice, I had dropped off dinner for my next door neighbors, who just gave birth to their first baby.

Again, not that big of a deal, right.

But I'm sure it won't surprise you to find out that I don't deliver food to other people. Well, I do, but casseroles and covered dishes do not come naturally to me. Take Them a Mealing is in no way even close to the category that any of my spiritual gifts fall into.

Our contributions to Samara's Back-To-School Picnics should provide further insight here. This is Montessori people, we got kale, gluten-free, chick pea, avocado, yum yums all up in the hizzle. The Ashbaugh's? Year one, we brought a bowl of bananas. Year two, we picked something up from Earth Fare.

One time I brought a plate of baby carrots and sweet pickles to a Bethel potluck. In fact, that's the only thing I've ever taken to a Bethel potluck. 

Anyway, we delivered this meal next door, and I just felt weird about it. I know you probably want to comfort me here and say, "They have a new baby. I'm sure they're grateful for anything." But, y'all we eat weird. Remember my meal plan series? My friends had a heyday making fun of these!

How do I get myself into these messes?

I am convinced there are two me's currently guiding my daily decision making. The first me is super motivated, adventurous, willing to help, excited to try new things, perhaps slightly overambitious. The second me is exhausted and wants to do nothing but take baths, eat ice cream, and watch Parenthood.

The first me makes all my commitments. The second me has to follow through.

And therein lies the problem.

It is adventurous for me to take on Team Parenting, as stupid as that sounds. It's actually a stretch. It hurts a little. I suppose that's good and is how I grow, but I mean really? Stress and sign-ups or Blue Bell and the Bravermans?

I think the reason I went to bed feeling odd is that I want to do a good job. I want the other nervous parents to rest assured that their children are being cared for. I want the new parents next door to eat nutritious food and feel remembered and momentarily unburdened. It's these desires that spur me on towards volunteering in the first place, but then my skills are so sub par it causes me to second guess myself.

Where's my stool to camp out on? Can't I just make everyone laugh?

Mark and I have multiple life mantras, but one that's been around a while is, "It's always better to get in the water." The original context had to do with studying abroad and being extreme to fit in one last experience. You're always happier if you take that last swim. You're always glad you paid the extra money to see the higher view. You never regret waking up at the crack of dawn to ski the freshest snow. Life is simply more satisfying when you actively do things, make sacrifices, and say yes.

Somehow this line of thinking plays into all this as well.

I haven't come to a conclusion. My motivated self will continue to offer. My ice cream self will begrudgingly comply. My untrained self will provide. My post-event self will be glad I did. My self-conscious self will harshly evaluate. The cycle will continue.

I'll grow?

On the flip side, if motivated me stops speaking up, bath tub ice cream girl will win, and I'll end up unhealthy and bored.

So, this is your challenge. Where's my theology off? What am I believing that isn't true? What is the root of my insecurity?

Gimme the gospel!

Isn't that the point of this blog? For you all the teach me?

Lesson Learned: Do you think a mini-van would help?

* Linked up at Living Well Spending Less


  1. I am a big Lysa Turkuerst fan, this weekend we did a weekend women's study of her newer book The Best Yes, and at first I thought I was going to be about saying yes and no, but it was more figuring out what gives you life and blesses others at the same time. Anyway, you might want to check it out and see if it is something that kind of applies to those different decisions. Anyway, we just started soccer too, no one had to volunteer thankfully! Those "opportunities" shall come later ;-)

  2. Also I bet she was sooooo cute in her pink stuff! All Will's gear came from the thrift store, some of it covered with black sharpie to make it look a little better.

    1. Mark told me his plan to make them work longer is spray paint!!! Haha!!!

  3. YOU'RE GOING TO DO GREAT!! all these kids REALLY need is for someone to care for them and to encourage them. you are awesome at that. AWESOME.

    also, this paragraph sums up exactly why we got along so well: I do not make phone calls. I do not return text messages in a timely fashion. And I certainly do not delegate snack duty.

  4. I agree with Amanda, you are going to do great! I guess everything about soccer is waiting me ahead as well with my son when he is old enough :)


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