I played soccer year-round for nearly two decades. It was a huge part of my life – all the way up until I got pregnant. I tried playing a few games while with child, but after a few shots to the stomach, I decided maybe it wasn’t in the best interest of the baby.
My position was outside midfield. I was fast and played with a lot of heart, but my ball skills were never good enough to merit center mid, my accuracy wasn’t great for a forward and I never cared for being involved in the last line of defense.
The thing I loved about playing midfield was that I was constantly running and switching between offense and defense.
And this is our parenting analogy.
With soccer, the objective is to outscore your opponent by knocking a ball into the back of their net.
With parenting, the objective is to keep your child alive by any means possible.
And just like playing midfield, you’re always switching between offense and defense.
Here’s my typical day:
Wake up, toddler next to me. Immediately go on offense, stealthily slipping out of bed to brush my teeth, put in my contacts and examine our surroundings for anything that might wake him. Get dog out of room, quietly make oatmeal and hope he sleeps long enough for me to get some work done.
Soon enough, he’s up, and I continue my offensive strike with a banana in his mouth and some Pixar show on the “big TV.”
Before I know it, I’m on defense. Plastic dinosaurs fly about the apartment and shrieking child attacks me with cries of “Momma carry!”
We head to the gym. Whistle blows. Substitution as I hand him to the child watch ladies.
The break is short-lived, and I’m on offense again, planning how I’ll spend the next few hours before lunch.
Rainy and cold? No match for this mom-star. We head to the mall. Defense. Dodge shoppers, deflect tantrums, evade threats of shiny toys.
Back home. Offense. Feed him. He’ll eat salad and fruit for lunch? Bonus.
Naptime. Halftime. Nice long break.
Oh no, he only napped an hour and a half. Woke up cranky. Defense again. He delivers one baby blow after another: crying, slapping, dirty diaper, inability to smile.
The best offense is a good defense, and I get him out of the house for a long walk with the dog. He is pleased and takes off running, which means he’s getting exercise. And is that a bunch of smiles and laughter? Happy and healthy. One of our best games yet.
Whistle blows. Substitution. Daddy’s home. I hand over the toddler to make dinner. They both eat every bit of what I make, though I’m on defense again, catching scraps of food before they get rubbed into the carpet and toweling up milk spilled in an excited, impromptu dinnertime Elmo sing-along.
Bedtime. Offense all the way. This is the closer. We need this. Clean diaper. Warm pajamas. Sound machine. FOUR of his favorite books. And to seal the deal? Daddy tagteams. We’re two-on-one, singing the best of the Beatles.
And he’s out.
Alive. Happy. Healthy. The equivalent of the parenting hat trick.
Daddy and I high-five. Good game. Orange slices for everyone.