I’ve had a soccer ball at my feet since I was four-years-old. Suffice it to say I am an avid fan and could not wait to watch the Women’s World Cup final tonight. What I didn’t expect was to be struck with an overwhelming feeling of melancholy in the moments that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat.
I’m not sure if it was watching Wambach’s emotional interview before the game started or just poor hormonal timing, but instead of celebrating along with them, I found myself on the sidelines, lamenting the end of an era.
Ironically, I have never been a huge Wambach fan. I don’t dislike her- she’s obviously great- I just prefer Rapinoe’s style of play. Five years ago I probably would not have given her interview a second thought.
But tonight, now that I’m a mother, I was watching out for Abby.
As she tried to power through her pre-game interview it was evident that she didn’t want to accept this. I hurt for her as she choked up when discussing how her body is telling her that time is up. Through clenched teeth she spoke so highly of her teammates- the ones she is not ready to leave. She wasn’t touting her legendary career- she was basically implying that she isn’t ready. As she accepted the trophy she kind of stood off to the side, perhaps feeling as if she was not really a part of this anymore. Abby doesn’t feel done, doesn’t want to be done, but her body is telling her that she is. It reminded me of people who say they just “knew” when they were done having kids whereas for others their bodies decided for them.
I now realize my reaction is two-fold. It is the acceptance of aging as well as the constant struggle to slow down time.
While I obviously never played professionally, I have recently begun coming to terms with the body’s aging process. It struck me that my time for playing sports at a competitive level has passed. (If you need further proof, two months after having a baby, in front of the high school team you coach, kick a soccer ball as hard as you can. You will soon realize how much ab strength that requires and how little you no longer possess!) My husband can no longer “just run a marathon” with very little training. My speed is not going to be my saving grace in athletic endeavors. In fact, we are more likely to get hurt doing the most basic of things. (i.e, throwing out your back tying shoelaces, anyone?!)
Of course adult leagues abound and we don’t have to completely write ourselves off from the sports we love, but when you are used to doing something pretty well and your body no longer cooperates with your brain, it can get very frustrating. I find that I have less frustration when I play sports I was always just “okay” at- I am much more forgiving of myself!
In general, I am very proud of my body for what it can do as well as what it has done. Carrying 14 lbs of twins in a 5’2 petite frame is no joke! My arms are far stronger than ever before due to carrying 25 lbs in each arm up and down the stairs all day long. I can still build endurance and strength pretty quickly. But it just isn’t the same. Sometimes I just miss running up and down the soccer field. And yes mom, I DO wish I had those extremely muscular legs that I always tried to cover in high school- the ones you told me I would wish back.
Just as we all will, Abby will undoubtedly move onto many great things in her next chapter. It’s true- there are definite benefits to getting older, wiser, etc, but it is equally true that sometimes it is just a big bummer. It stinks when your body dictates your limitations. You are forced to realize the end of an era.
My soccer player days are over and now I get to be a coach. I’ve always looked forward to teaching my children to play sports, but here’s the problem. I’m not ready! In the useless battle of trying to slow down time, I often feel sad. Time just goes too quickly. I know I will happily cheer my kids from the sidelines and would love to be a “Soccer Grandma” one day, but not yet! In my head I feel like my “babies” should be swaddled in soccer blankets- not needing me to lace up their cleats and secure their shinguards. I fear that if I blink they will be playing under the big lights of their high school stadium, embarrassed by my cheers in the stands.
I generally embrace the present moment (click here), enjoying whatever stage of life we are in. After all, there truly is nothing we can do to stop it. However, there’s a reason almost every single person you meet when you are out and about with a newborn tells you to enjoy this precious time. It’s okay to lament the passage of time, as long as you are still living the time you are in to the fullest! You never know what is around the next corner- each chapter is full of incredible potential!