She shot. She scored! And I missed it.
Maybe in your household your child scoring a soccer goal is a regular occurrence and accomplishment. But in our household, for our Sophia, it is nothing short of a minor miracle. Sophia does not play sports out of athletic drive, skill, or competitiveness. She plays for the simple enjoyment of being on a team. She loves the social aspect of sports teams. She does not love any type of contact with a soccer ball.
Suffice it to say, this was an event. At the time of the goal, I was on the soccer field diagonal to Sophia’s – at my older daughter’s game. Their games had been scheduled for nearly simultaneous times. My dad and I switched turns going from field to field. At the time of the shot, her doting grandfather was there to capture it. I was right there and I missed it.
My heart hurt as I ran to her field after hearing the news. The familiar “bad mom” berating began in my head. “How could I have missed it? Why wasn’t I there? She will be so disappointed.”
When I saw her, I recognized immediately her puffed up posture. She was so proud. She was raising her hand to accept passes from her teammates, a gesture I had never seen from her before. When she caught sight at me, she flashed a thumbs-up. Tears pricked at the corners of my eyes.
I have been either a coach or a cheerleader to each of my daughters in the six years they have been playing soccer. I can count on my hands the number of games I have missed in all of the fall and spring seasons we have each year.
I have observed that while parents of other players seem to split the duty of attending games – with mom being at some games and dad being at others – for me, as a divorced mom, I feel obligated to be at them all. So does their dad. Maybe we see it as an opportunity to spend a just a little more time with our children than our normal schedule provides. Maybe we fear feeling judgment from the other if we are a no show. Maybe we are trying to satiate our guilty feelings about being divorced. Maybe it is all of this. But we show up for everything.
We show up for everything in the hopes that we will not miss an available moment with our child. To ensure we are present for their mundane and miraculous moments. And then just like that, in the blink of an eye, she shoots – she scores – and I miss it.
The irony of all of the effort to never miss a thing swirled around my heartsick head. It was further compounded after the game, when I observed that none of my daughter’s joy and accomplishment was diminished by me missing it. In fact, I am fairly confident she delighted in telling (and likely embellishing) the story of her score.
I realized my focus for these years had been misplaced. Instead of focusing on being there every single moment I could, perhaps pay attention to her actual experience. Instead of saying “I know, I was there,” my heart shifted to relishing her retelling. I saw the goal before me – open, ready, and mine for the taking.