A critic of my Edgy Mama column recently remarked that I’m “just another North Asheville soccer mom.” Dude, that expression is so 1996.
The term “soccer mom” entered national lingo when Bill Clinton was running for president against Bob Dole. One of Dole’s media advisors, Alex Castellenos, was quoted as saying Clinton was targeting the influential 30-something female voters, whom he termed “soccer moms.” Clinton did win, thanks in part to these swing vote moms, who would later vilify him when he was caught diddling Monica (this incident came too close to home, I imagine, for a number of married moms).
Initially, the phrase “soccer moms” referred to those of us who spend a good deal of time driving our kids from activity to activity, and who, as good citizens, vote regularly.
Then the term evolved. As references to “soccer moms” increased in the media, negative connotations crept in. The phrase came to represent over-stressed moms who don’t work, drive gas-guzzling SUVs, and spend too much time and money on their kids. Cue country song: “She’s a ninety-pound suburban housewife drivin’ in her SUV.”
There’s even a character called Soccer Mom, who is one of the villains on my son’s favorite TV show, Codename: Kids Next Door. She’s an evil soccer coach who wants kids to practice soccer non-stop.
So I’ve been called a soccer mom, and I assume, from the context, the commenter thinks I represent the unfavorable aspects of soccer momhood. This makes me laugh, because my girl only recently joined a soccer team, and I have no intention of forcing her to practice non-stop, or at all really. I know next to nothing about the game. This soccer mom also works as a journalist, drives a Honda Civic Hybrid (most of the time), and prefers to let her kids wander unsupervised around the neighborhood rather than schedule their time. Is she over-stressed? Who isn’t? Is she a regular voter? Hell, yeah.
To put the term in perspective, I’ve also been a swimming mom, a TaeKwonDo mom, a Girls on the Run mom, a softball mom, and an art mom. I’ve never been a hockey mom, which seems to be the correspondingly derogatory term for moms living in Canada and states like Michigan and Alaska.
Let’s think about this. Is there something wrong with driving your kid to regular soccer practices and games where that kid gets lots of exercise, fresh air, and learns how to function on a team? Not to my mind. So we’re being vilified for promoting kids’ health and well-being. And for voting. That kind of sucks.
On the side of the soccer field last weekend, I talked to and checked out the other soccer moms. Turns out there were more soccer dads than soccer moms. These parents come from all different strata of society. One’s a stay-at-home dad. One’s a teacher. One’s unemployed. One’s an accountant. One’s a physical trainer. One works construction. I only saw a few SUVs and mommy vans in the parking lot. There were trucks, lots of mid-sized cars, and a couple of motorcycles.
Sure, maybe a few of the parents fit the stereotype, but not many. All that most of us have in common are that we have kids and at least one of them plays in the Asheville-Buncombe Youth Soccer Association.
Mostly, I chatted with the soccer parents about the beautiful fall day—because we know there are some cold and dreary ones coming. We complained about having to be there by 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, especially because we had to get our kids down to Enka to play (not very close to N. Asheville). Some of us tried to keep the siblings of our soccer players out of the mud. Some of us let our dogs wrestle in the mud.
So, let’s recognize that the 1996 cliché no longer holds water. It’s 2009 and soccer moms are just moms, in all their many guises. Shoot, I’m proud to be the soccer mom I am.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.