Snippets from Suburbia: Saturday Soccer & The Jesus Mug

**The second entry in the suburban snippets series, the factional (combination of fact and fiction) story of raising kids, marriage, suburbia, and parenthood. The series where we are reduced down to broad generalities--mother, father, eldest, youngest, cat and dog because that is, after all, what we become, at least to some extent. Isn’t it? 

Oh shit, the mother jumps out of bed. Maybe jumps is too strong a word, stumbles may be more accurate. “Let’s go,” she yells at the kids huddled together on the couch in various levels of dress as she enters the living room.The dog looks up at her for a moment, disinterested, and goes back to licking herself.
“Mommy,” the children descend upon her with questions, requests, and demands, leaving little room for personal space or an escape route. The father was up and out early and now she is here, dealing with this. “Pancakes,” “sneakers,” “soccer pads,” “potty,” are shouted rapid fire, a succession of words she is too tired to process before…”coffee,” she says holding her hand up and ending all discussion.

On her way to the kitchen she begins her to do list: breakfast, teeth, spray, for the longer haired children, to prevent head lice, clothing, soccer stuff, water bottle, dog, and does she have to go to the bathroom? There isn’t time. Sure, she can hold it for another 3 hours. The mother is used to it. Motherhood has not only eaten up every moment of time, but has also made a mockery of her digestive system.

Where am I? She wonders as the dog barks distracting her from whatever it was that she was doing. To do list and coffee the little voice in the back of her head screams. The voice gives her a headache and sounds very similar to her mother’s. Pull the cup, dump the grounds-in the trash not the sink or the septic--something will happen to the septic--something expensive to repair, something that will cause discourse in her marriage, refill the cup without dumping grounds on the counter. Shit--too late. Ahh, but the grounds are brown and blend in. She’ll wipe them up when she returns home. Wipe up grounds, go to the bathroom--two things added to her, ‘later today’ to do list, not her, ‘right this minute’ to do list. It is important to differentiate between the two.

Fu*k, the orange light on the coffee maker is blinking. What the hell error is that? Add water, right? So she does and then she presses the button, waiting and hoping, two things that define marriage and motherhood. Shwwwwwwwshwwwwww, the coffee maker whirls to life. The mother instantly feels tense muscles loosen, clenched jaw drop and the world is fine and right for a split second while she watches the dark mocha-colored liquid drip, IV style, into her Jesus mug, a gift inherited after the death of her grandmother. The son of God smiles, she smiles back. The mother and Jesus have a moment.

“I’m peeing standing up,” the youngest, a total surprise happening between the birth of the third and the time when the mother and/or father was supposed to get fixed, yells from the bathroom and just as quickly as it came, her moment with divinity is gone. “And he peed on the seat,” the second child yells, to which the third adds, “he tried to pee without using his hands.” Wipes are procured from the dilapidated entertainment center, a lovely accompaniment to the, ‘chewed by the dog, hole so we flipped the cushion,’ couch. Their home is nothing more than a glorified frat house. In fact, the mother had better furniture in college--at least it matched and was hole-free.

Does she scold the boy for peeing or commend him for trying to pee like a big boy? What the hell would the parenting articles say? “Get your clothes on,” she says doing what all good and harried mothers do, avoid the issue altogether. The kids dress, but this one is missing underwear and that one doesn’t like those shorts, and the other one grew without the mother noticing so the things that fit last week don’t any longer.

“Are you all dressed?” The mother asks realizing that she isn’t. So she grabs Jesus and heads off to the bathroom for a moment of quiet. “Can I come with you?” the boy who now stands up to pee asks. She holds the door open and stands back, fighting is pointless, a lesson that has taken her more than a decade to learn and embrace.

And finally, finally they are in the minivan. Ten minutes later than she wanted to be. She backs out of the driveway avoiding the bikes and balls, an obstacle course, left by children who never picked up from the night before. But the mother is used to it. Damn, the garage door is open. Car off, mom out, door unlocked, garage door shut and….they are off, out on the open road. Well, not exactly open--the person in front of them is driving under the speed limit, they should ticket for this the mother thinks as she watches the crimson digital seconds tick by on the car radio clock. Five minutes until soccer. They are ten minutes away.

Music. Great idea. “This is an awful song. Mom, can you change it?” She is willing to humor the oldest, but the youngest loves this song and begins to sing it in his off key voice. How cute, how sweet, how utterly charming. “No, you’re brother likes it.”

“He is sooooo spoiled,” the second child yells. “You like him best,” the third chimes in. “This song sucks,” the first whispers. Of course, the mother hears because like every mother, she has bionic hearing. Then they debate whether the word suck is a swear. “Either way, don’t say it again,” the mother demands. The song is finally over so she changes the station...rap, country, rock, grunge--they never all agree. Strength in numbers, the cliche, not true for them. For their family, there is merely dissension. 

The song she lands on, one about time, one from a band she loves, eerily acknowledges what she constantly fears--ten years are gone, ten fu*king years, ten and she missed the starting gun. There was a gun? When? College? Before? After? The beginning of her first marriage? The end? Her second marriage? The birth of her children? She wants to turn around, wants to cry, wants to be younger, wants to be wiser, but instead she puts on her blinker and eases into the left lane to pass the woman who is blissfully alone in her car, windows open, music playing and sweet and utter freedom. Apparently, she has no children to deposit at a Saturday soccer game. 

When they finally arrive, the parking lot is full with vans just like hers, and when they find a spot, she has to yell at them to hurry up. Heads turn, mothers hold onto their children, the world is about to come apart. Fu*k that noise. It is still okay to demand things of your children--loudly. The world has gone soft, a gooey, ooze filled cesspool of privilege and mediocrity. “Hold your brother’s hand,” she yells because she is Italian and was raised in the 1980’s when yelling was still the preferred method of parenting, along with avoidance and the cliches, ‘not if, ands or buts about it,’ the rather threatening and potentially violent, ‘I’ll give you something to cry about,’ and the worst of all, “don’t make me call (or tell) your father,’ which implied that the man was the real threat and held all the power.

They are there, at the field, finally. “Where are we going to sit?” the second child asks. “On the grass,” the mother responds. There are sighs and protestations, whines and groans. “The grass is soft. I used to sit on tar,” the mother says her, words drenched in sarcasm. Another mother, who stands alone, free and astonishingly tanned, gives her a look. The mother returns the look.

“When is Grammy coming?” Oh shit, Grammy. Did she give her mother-in-law the correct location? It is not the high school field, where the older kids play but the field behind the skating pond, which in the fall is simply another field, one next to the playground, but not behind it. The mother checks her phone, no new messages. While she waits, she watches the unruly children in front of her obscure her view while they play games and run without consequence. She scolds, commands, drinks coffee, yells words of encouragement and wonders what the rest of the day will bring. Best not to think that far ahead the mother knows as she watches her daughter ignore the ball that breezes past instead preferring to hug the girl from the opposing team. Why the hell do kids this young play sports anyway, she’d really like to know?

“Playground,” they yell as the game finishes and the third, the, ‘opposing team hugger’ comes over with a snack and the youngest asks where his snack is. She won’t share, not this time, she says. Snacks...fu*k. Why can’t they get through a one-hour game without a snack? Why?

At the playground, she runs into other mothers, glances from child to child, occasionally experiences a brief moment of panic when one ‘goes missing’ followed by a moment of annoyance that she has allowed herself to be so paranoid, so helicopterish. Ah, and then it is blissfully over, the game, the playground, the beginning half of her Saturday has passed. This is soccer on Saturday. This is motherhood. This is the life.

***Join me next week when The Cat wonders what the hell happened to The Mother, The Father, The Offspring and The Dog.


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