With about five minutes left in the second game, Will's team earned a penalty kick after a member of the other team batted the ball down in front of the goal with his hands. As Will stepped up to the ball I could hardly breath...I turned to Tom as he said, "I hope he doesn't kick it over the goal - that's what he did in practice this week". Sure enough, Will's penalty kick went just over the crossbar. Disappointed for Will but relieved the kick was over, I turned to Tom and we gave each other sad smiles.
After every significant moment on the soccer field, Will looks at me. We make eye contact and then share a smile, thumbs up, or shrug or I offer words of encouragement. I learned post-game that after Will missed his penalty kick he looked at me, saw me looking at Tom instead of him, and felt completely abandoned. In Will's moment of weakness - of failure, as he described it - I wasn't there to share my strength with him.
My heart broke into a thousand pieces.
I sat down in front of Will, right there in the middle of the field, and pulled his chin up so he could see my face and look into my eyes. "I will NEVER abandon you. Not here on the soccer field, and not ever in life. Everything I do for you or say to you comes from a place of love and support and is meant to build you up, not bring you down. Today I missed an opportunity to be there for you and that will never happen again."
I have never been, nor will I ever be, an olympic caliber athlete (you're all thinking, "yes, Erin - we KNOW"), but back in my day I played a decent game of soccer. And throughout those 14 years and hundreds of games, I can't remember ever looking to the stands and not seeing my mom actively supporting me.
I'm not saying she never missed a game. She had a job and two kids and a life outside of her roles as wife and mother. And I'm not saying I won't occasionally miss a game, as I too have a job and two kids and a life outside of my roles as wife and mother. (And only one of the parents in our family knows how to put the dancing child's hair in a bun, which means that parent has to handle all of the dance-related activities.) I am saying, however, that whenever I sit on the sidelines, Will (and Hallie) will never again doubt my support or fail to feel my strength.
Happy Mother's Day to all those celebrating (and hugs to those for whom today hurts), especially my mom, grandma, mother-in-law, sister Sara, and sis-in-law Chandi.
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