What truly matters

Today I went to my son’s football training. The baby, who isn’t a baby anymore but more like a tsunami, was with us. We were going to a new place. Because the weather is turning very cold, they changed the practice to a school’s gym instead of the park we normally go to. It was cold and it was starting to rain. And it was dark, so I had both kids glued to my legs while we were walking on the street because they were scared of the dark. My bad mood was turning worse, because I had already had a fight with my son about his not getting dressed properly for football training, and I was cold and had a headache. My patience was also running low. All I wanted to do was to get to the goddamn place soon.

When we finally arrived, my son decided he didn’t want to practice because he didn’t have the proper football shoes, t-shirt and shirts on. He had nothing on that I had told him an hour before to wear. He suddenly realised he should have worn his Barça shirt and shirts, with the name MESSI on the back, just like every kid that day. He made a tantrum, cried and he only found an even more stubborn person (me) than he, who told him I was going to take him out of the club and he was never going to play football ever again if he didn’t join the team right in that moment. I think that did it, because I saw a glimpse of horror in his face as he was thinking how horrible it would be not to play football anymore, ever. So he joined the practice and I immediately saw that he was very happy with his decision. This all happened while I had the baby, who isn’t a baby anymore, glued to my leg shouting at me that she wanted to watch Winnie Pooh right then and there, or while she was trying to join the practice herself and running right to the middle of the big boys who were training. As my future football player went into practice, I, finally, had time to play with the baby, or tsunami, as you like. I could gather myself and my head started to feel a bit better, without the screaming and crying of the children. So I started to think why the hell do I put myself in stressful situations like this one almost all the time. Would it not be easier to just stay at home, let the kids play whatever they want indoors, without having to get them dressed like polar bears, without having to organise an extra activity for my other daughter, to avoid bringing her to her brother’s football thing, that she doesn’t like anyway? Would I not be a happier person?

Truth is, I wasn’t looking for an answer, they were just rhetorical questions that I kept asking myself until I realised that the team was going to play a match. Just like every time they practice. For the first time since I have an iPhone I was thankful that we live in a time when we can download Winnie Pooh’s adventures on YouTube on the go, because that was the only way I could distract the baby/tsunami and I could watch my son play football. (Mind, I was thinking about my monthly data quota, but to be honest, it was worth it). What I saw made me human and a bearable mother again.

It was like in the stadium, only with much less egos and money involved and absolutely no sponsorship deals to be signed, but still with lots of pride, effort and, most important of all, lots of smiles.

– Ali, on your right!

– Go get that ball! Good job!

– Goal!!!!!

General ovations and applause from the public (the parents).

– Offside!

– Free kick! David, give the ball to Rajan. Rajan, do your job!

– Great kick! Keep doing it!

– Oh, that tackle was mean.

– COME ON PAUL, COME ON JANNICK!

– GOAL!!!

– Get the ball on your left side! Well done!

– Penalty!

– Aaawww!

– Good job, kids! Well done! See you next week!

There were lots of cheering and applause every time a team scored a goal and when the other one missed the goal. The voices were all mixed up and one couldn’t hear which dad told what to which kid. To watch ten or eleven kids running after a ball without any tactic but just being children having fun was what I needed to remind me of two things:

1. that those moments are what make life worth living, and

2. that those smiles are what make me put myself into those ridiculous, stressful situations all the time.

When I saw my son smiling because he was part of a team and was playing footbal, I forgot all about our fight to get out of the house on time, about his slowness to walk in a dark street, about his tantrum for not wanting to practice because of his shoes. I just hugged and kissed him on the forehead, looked at him in the eyes and said “Well done, honey! You played really, really well!” The sparkle in his eyes and his bright smile with those crooked teeth said it all. He hadn’t changed, I had.

When we left the gym the weather was colder and wetter, it was also darker. My kids were hungry and my little tsunami was more tired than before, but I was quiet inside and that made a huge difference. We took our time to walk back to the car, while the future football player in the family told me all about his “match” and the baby, who isn’t a baby anymore, jumped all the way. We drove home at a normal speed and arrived in good spirits. Quiet and happy. And I was, am, so thankful for all those little moments that remind me what truly is important in my life.