In the Field of Dreams
The heat was still thick and unforgiving when my son's team tumbled onto the field for the evening games. Two of the boys on his team were very good. But another teammate picked grass and let it float onto the ground. Another blocked a ball with his shins only because he was standing in its path. Another enjoyed dramatic flops to the ground. A dragonfly flew over them during halftime, and our team barked at it for a good 30 seconds.
That's the excitement of a soccer mom.
When my daughter ran over to warm up with her team, it left me to doomscroll on my phone and watch the threatening clouds coming over the nearby mountain range. The fields have an amazingly full vista of the entire range, and under the glaring sun, the darkness and shadows of the ridges gave both an ominous and envious feeling.
I scrolled past an online entry with the same view I had above the horizon of my phone, with the comment about it being a beautiful evening to be a soccer mom. Someone I knew was — sleuthing from the photo's angle — behind me at one of the other dozen or so fields with teams playing and parents dripping sweat.
It was the unity of parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and chosen family on the aptly named Field of Dreams. We all came together in suffering for our kids. Maybe the kids were having fun. Maybe they were pushing themselves just to be there. But maybe parents weren't doing it just for them, and perhaps they were instead just reliving their youth, living vicariously or even healing themselves.
One of the first games had me distracted by the bulging neck veins of a mom on the sideline, screaming at her team to not miss, to go that way and to cover that person. I couldn't look away because I mostly don't understand the fervor, but I do think my motivations are similar, if not my way of expressing them.
I want to give my children experiences I did not have. Luckily, that's the same as my husband — both of us had no exposure to sports. He grew up in a religion too tightly wound. My family moved a lot, and whenever I came near a soccer field, balls would gravitate toward my face. I lost two pairs of glasses as sacrifices before my parents decided that maybe I should be shown to the library instead.
Though, this push in our family to give our kids "the normal things" made me worry. What if those normal things stemmed from fabricated myths? Maybe what we thought of as normal was only normal for some privileged families.
I asked my husband, what if our regimenting them into that normal we had admired sets them down the path for a world we don't understand or value in the same way? Then what if, I said breathlessly, our grandchildren rebel against that strict normality and raise our great-grandchildren in the 20% of the Maldives left by 2050? What if they all just leave for Mars?
My husband, well-versed in my moments of existential mania, first sighed, then shared that he thought generations are probably more like seasons, and everything goes in cycles. We shouldn't stop being the hot summer to what may be our perhaps pumpkin-spice-loving fall children.
And he's right. Parenthood doesn't afford the luxury of hopelessness; it is the eternal spring. No matter where we exist in the cycle of generations, one thing is sure: We are all leveled by our kids. We all seek to give them more, even under the same dark skies, and hope to see their joy grow — and to snatch some of our own while we perch on uncomfortable camping chairs in the heat together.
Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.