Soccer mom：A mother who spends a lot of time taking her children to activities such as music classes, sports, etc. It is often used to refer to a type of middle-class mother.
Amy doesn’t mind being called a soccer mom. With two of her three sons (ages 12, 10, and 8) playing on two teams each, every season adds eight practices and/or games to her weekly calendar, most requiring her to ferry multiple kids back and forth. This on top of school, art and music lessons, holidays, play dates, and birthday parties.
Amy works full-time from her home office, as an investment advisor for municipalities. Somehow, she fits in training for half-marathons, two book clubs, and serving as a class coordinator and a team manager. She can be spotted every afternoon walking several kids to a practice, some her own, others handed off to her in the great square dance of after-school activities, when groups head to the Monroe Center for theater classes, to religious instruction, or Garden Street for dance and music.
Around 3 p.m., the sidewalks of Hoboken fill with these entourages, the littlest kids holding hands to cross the streets, bigger ones dashing ahead to the end of the block, but always stopping at the corner. Some go by car, but most are on foot, bike, or scooter.
The first few weeks are the most hectic until everyone is signed up and settled into his or her activities and teams, and the who’s-taking-whom-where patterns have emerged. It’s a distant cousin to the suburban carpool. But without the confines and seat belts of a minivan, the adults herding these fluid groups through the streets need more than eyes in the back of their heads. They need nerves of steel, an encyclopedic memory, and a lot of pretzels.
There’s an old saying that if you want something done, ask the busiest person to do it. That certainly holds true for soccer moms like Amy. What does it take to manage it all? “A very detailed calendar, a lot of patience and, ultimately, remembering that it’s all about my boys,” Amy says. “And maybe a few glasses of wine!”
I asked Amy to describe a day in her family’s fall schedule. This was a typical Wednesday last year.
6 a.m.: Amy’s oldest is an early riser. Since he can get his own breakfast, Amy tries to get an hour or so of work in before the other two come thundering down the stairs.
7 a.m.: Breakfast, getting dressed, packing lunches, where’s your homework? Remember who needs to bring his instrument (saxophone, guitar, and ukulele respectively) for music lessons and who needs what athletic equipment. The oldest son leaves at 7:30 to walk to school with friends so that they can stop at Church Square to get in a little basketball.
8 a.m.: Amy leaves with the younger two, sometimes picking up a few other kids on the way.
8:15 a.m.: Passing Church Square, Amy yells at the oldest that he’ll be late if he doesn’t hurry.
After getting in her run, Amy has the next six hours to focus on her computer. Working from home provides the flexibility to be at her kids’ practices and games, but she still has to put in a full day’s work. Rather than a lunch hour or coffee break, she grabs something out of the fridge and throws in a load of laundry on the way, or puts together some kind of casserole or pasta bake for dinner. Because, as you’ll see, after school is when the real fun begins.
3 p.m.: Amy arrives at school with whatever equipment was forgotten that morning (cleats, shin guards and so forth). She joins dance moms carrying ballet bags, the fencing mom with an enormous bag of foils, theater moms with scripts and jazz shoes, and cello moms who will certainly be enlisted to carry the thing home. All remember to bring snacks, or face kids whining to stop at the cupcake store. Arrangements are made as to which kids go where.
3:15 p.m.: Arrangements are re-arranged when kids emerge, begging for play-dates.
4 p.m.: The middle son needs to be at practice uptown at 1600 Park. Amy usually takes three other boys on the team as well.
4:45 p.m.: The youngest has art class at the Monroe Center.
5 p.m.: The middle son needs to be picked up at 1600. In spring, the oldest and middle son need to be at the Little League field by 5 p.m.
5:45 p.m.: The youngest gets picked up at Monroe, along with his best friend, who needs to be dropped off at home.
6 p.m.: Pick up the older and middle son, bring them home, and get them to start homework. They are starving, so out comes the aforementioned casserole.
7 p.m.: The youngest is due at 1600 for his practice. Amy is the manager of his team, so she usually stays until he is done.
8 p.m.: They are all home. Anyone who hasn’t eaten yet does. Usually it’s Amy and her husband, Sean, who is home by this time. Homework, showers for all (Sean supervises this part), maybe a half hour of TV, then bedtime, when Amy can get back to her office to finish her day’s work.
Easy as pie, right? This year, the family schedule will change a little, because the middle son will be able to walk to school and back with his own group of friends. All three boys will continue with Hebrew School three times a week (The oldest will have his Bar Mitzvah in 2016). Fall soccer is followed closely by basketball, and in spring, Little League and Travel Soccer begin. The photo shoot for this story had to be pushed back a day because—oops—Amy forgot that her oldest son had basketball practice—a good reason for a soccer mom to jigger the schedule! Amy is forming a third book club, which I know because she’s asked me to join. I’d love to.
If I can find the time.