Being Jesus

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cropped-key-and-kelly-in-train-station-oct-20143.jpgAnd the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

Jesus said whatever we do for “The least of these,” we actually have done for Him. This shows me that when we reach out to the poor, the marginalized, the prisoners, and the broken, we are not being like Jesus to them; they are like Jesus to us. – Christine Caine

Have you ever given money to a homeless person? Kept a care package in your trunk to hand out on the street? How about serving food at a soup kitchen, shelter, community cafe? What about at Christmas? Made a box for Operation Christmas Child? Or Thanksgiving? Dropped food off at the pantry? Cleaned out your closets and donated? During one of our many, many natural disasters – did you send money? Bought water bottles? Served on a board for a nonprofit? Donated your time, your talent, or your treasure in any way at any time? Heck, did you go on a mission trip or build something? What about Habitat for Humanity? Ever helped with one of their projects?

….

Put a coin in the red tin can so that the guy ringing a bell outside Walmart would think you’re generous? Showing that stranger that your Heart is in The. Right. Place?

I hate to break it to you.

You were Not Jesus in those moments.

You were simply a good and giving person. Another person that made a kind gesture. Maybe a human follower of Christ’s teachings. Not to belittle the gift, as the gift is still significant. It is. But.

You gave To Jesus.

The people drinking those water bottles. Taking your money. Living in those houses you nailed together during that summer in Belize. Opening those Shoeboxes. Eating that pantry food. Using the services of that nonprofit. Holding the cardboard sign you may or may not have answered while sitting at the red light on that corner just the other day.

They were Jesus.

I have had the humbling and overwhelming opportunity to give to Jesus and to be Jesus. Giving to Jesus feels good. Being Jesus, well, that’s a bit more complicated.

Here’s the thing. In the past when I have given of myself, it’s been a source of pride. Thoughts such as – I am blessed enough to give; At least I’m better off than the current person/ disaster/ situation that I am gifting; If I have more than the person in need, then it’s time to consider sharing my bounty – these thoughts flood my consciousness and the invisible compliment in my brain about how Good I am fires off those neurons and the day, well, it just seems more hopeful. Humanity restored for the moment, and all because of some kind act that I did. See how that focus just goes right on me? A kind act I did.

But being Jesus. Well….

That’s humiliating.

Being Jesus means being vulnerable and naked. Often soul weary tired.

Being Jesus means accepting the gifts of others on their terms and in their time. It means often accepting these gifts of soul and body nourishment even when they are wrapped in awkward packages. It means waiting for help from others because on your own is no longer feasible.

It means being open to the calamity of grace.

Being Jesus is one of the hardest parts I’ve ever played in my life. And right now it’s a part I will be playing for some more time to come, and all I can think is that Jesus has put me here on purpose. To humble me. To show me thankfulness. To show me my community. And let me tell you, the amount of support and gifting and lifting up is something I will never in my life forget. It has been tear streaking and breathtaking and beautiful and I will always be forever thankful and grateful to those people God has gifted to me for my life. So yes. He did it to humble me. But maybe, just maybe, also to make me think through all those times when I’ve given gifts myself.

Recently I had the privilege to witness a child receive a gift. Have you ever seen a child receive something precious? Maybe it was your own child on Christmas morning? Maybe it was the face of one adopted? Maybe that face came through mission work or summer camp or just a glimpse of pure happiness in a child’s expression in passing? The most vulnerable and naked and soul sensitive of humanity are the faces that bring us the most hope and joy and simplicity in our ability to love. They are the children of Christ and we, in our identical moments, become those faces of Jesus for others.

Imagine if in our giving, instead of feeling proud of our generosity, we felt anticipation and joy at the opportunity to meet Christ?

And….imagine if in our receiving we could see Jesus in ourselves?

Just Imagine.

 

Why Not Me?

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Last week a student sat in the hard wooden chair to my left, brow furrowed just a bit, focused on the notes, violin under chin, playing away. Her dream is to go to college for veterinarian medicine. Fiddling is her fun hobby. Her mother said she wants to get into a really competitive school. Only certain top students get in.

A few weeks ago, my own son toured Notre Dame University, wide eyed and lovestruck with the culture the school oozes from its very own pores. Notre Dame accepts 18% of their applicants yearly. The current freshman class beat out thousands of other applicants, over 100 of which graduated high school scoring  perfect SAT’s and ACT’s.

What would change if my sweet violinist and my gifted son ask themselves – Why. Not. Me?

Somebody is at vet school. In fact there are lots of people at vet school or it wouldn’t exist. Lots of somebodies make up that 18% that Notre Dame tells YES each year. What if, instead of looking at the wall, we looked at the opportunity?

How could simply changing the dialogue change the outcome?

Where in your life should you be asking Why. Not. Me?

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Part One in the Hatch Educational Journey…)

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Why did you choose to homeschool?

I get this question regularly. Some people ask this question with a skeptical look, as though I’ve lost a bit of my mind in pursuing such a crazy notion. But honestly, nowadays many people ask with genuine interest because their child/ grandchild has had some difficulty in a school setting. Homeschooling, while a seemingly extreme answer, isn’t so crazy lately.

Did I just give up on the schools? What drove me to homeschool?

Below is Part One.

Consider this sort of our personal “Series of Unfortunate Events” in the world of educating our children….

It started when my oldest child entered first grade. Key started disliking school, complaining about extra work, and asking why he was getting punished for being smart. Oftentimes, he was assigned harder homework than others in his class. Yet, if he didn’t do it, he got in trouble. One day, on the way home, Key again complained about the whole unfairness, declaring that the brown kids didn’t get in trouble if they skipped homework. Out of the mouths of babes…

Anyhow, we told Key to hang in there, that starting in second grade he’d likely be in the gifted program, and things would change. That fall, he did in fact test into the program -certified gifted – as in some of the highest tests scores the school had seen from a second grader in fifteen years kind of gifted. Unfortunately his good buddy – who was just as smart and later tested equally to Key – had test anxiety. His friend became so constipated he couldn’t concentrate, so after that the two were separated one day a week.

Funny. Not funny. And not kidding.

In this particular school, the gifted kids went to regular school four days a week and to the gifted program one day a week. This meant that while he was given special assignments that catered to his learning needs, Key still felt punished because he was separated from friends, unable to eat or play with them one day every week, and sent home with extra make up work he had not completed in regular school – because he had been in gifted school. Also, the gifted program was set by the district, not by the teachers actually teaching the gifted students, and Key’s second grade year the kids were assigned forensics as the year long topic of study. Key’s first week in the program, the teacher set up a mystery scene called “The Case of the Missing Millionaire”, and the kids were ushered in to the classroom to make observations and come up with clues. Unfortunately for us, the scene spread before these seven year olds was a sheet sprinkled with bug juice in a splatter pattern to represent blood drops. After surviving this shocking introductory activity, the very next item on their to do list was to talk about the coming year. They would all take – without parents – a fun filled trip to Clemson University’s CSI Laboratory, where they could use forensic technology to solve challenges. Again. They were seven. It would be a twelve hour day away from home without parents to a crime lab. Fabulous. This is where Key had his very first full blown panic attack. A simulated murder scene and a prospective day away from Mom and Dad to solve more forensic challenges proved too much for my sweet boy. Yet, because he was the only child to have a panic attack, I was called in to discuss his need for a doctor’s check up. Something was wrong – with him, no doubt. Our family ended up in eighteen months of pediatric counseling to desensitize him so that Key could function in the real world. I went along with it because I was told he was special, that gifted kids tended to be more sensitive, and he had been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. It felt all wrong, but all I knew to do was to work with the school and get the teachers to allow for certain accommodations while we worked with a counselor. I did at least require a Christian counselor that aligned with our religious beliefs. And every Sunday night Key cried himself to sleep out of fear of having to go to the “gifted program” on Mondays. His teachers told me that after I left he was fine. He should therefore continue; it was good for him.

I accepted their expert opinions. They were educators.

And the thing is, those teachers were good women, some were moms themselves, and they were excellent teachers to Key in many regards. They were giving advice they felt was sound.  I just wish I had realized that as Key’s mother, I was also an expert on seven year old Key. I had parental rights, and if I disagreed, I could have done so on his behalf.  

We are taught to trust experts without question, and this needs to stop – in many fields. Experts are good people, but they aren’t perfect. It is OK to respectfully voice a different perspective, opinion, or viewpoint.

For two years we continued the gifted program, and for two years I was a designated chaperone on just about every field trip, as a special accommodation for Key. I had mothers of other children in the program call me to ask that I sit with their children as well. That their son or daughter was having terrible anxiety at home, but that the schools only allowed for a few chaperones and they had not been picked. Could I please save an extra seat on the bus for _______? Let him or her know I was available? Would I be a Mom to those that were also nervous about a CSI crime lab two hours from home without a parent? I assured them all I would watch out for the kids, and I did. Another mother that came on those trips was the mother of Key’s close friend, Vamsi. She also saved special space for the nervous children and mothered the group. Together, with a father that also chaperoned, we did fine.

But what if things could have been just a little different?

**I’d also like to note that I am writing about our struggles right now, but the school was in general a phenomenal school. I would go back in a skinny minute if needed, but I’d handle my children’s education differently. In another post, I will explain why this school got so many other things right, and what made it worth the difficulties.**

 

 

 

Statements/ Opinions (At least for today)

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I have friends/ acquaintances of past and present that are white, straight, Christian, fundamental, southern, male, and female – and these probably make up a slim majority if I’m honest; As well, I have friends/ acquaintances that are dark skinned (meaning African American, African, plain American, etc.), light skinned, European, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, mixed race, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, agnostic, gay, lesbian, female, male, feminine, masculine, poor, rich, young, old, liberal, and conservative. Oh, and northern. (At least by birth.)

I voted for the Donald.

My friends voted for the Donald. And Hillary, Gary, Evan, and Jill.

I struggled with making political choices in this election cycle.

My choices in the primaries didn’t make it to the general elections.

Wine was useful in 2016.

I do not consider myself racist, mean, or hateful towards those unlike me.

I don’t feel the need to apologize for my political choice. It was difficult on many of us. We all get one vote.

I hope we come together and listen to each other.

We all have prejudices, and I continue to grow every time I discover I have one I didn’t see previously.

I don’t like the bathroom debate. Public restrooms are uncomfortable enough, especially for the constipated. Pick the private toilet if you need to. Let’s move on.

I am fine with gay marriage, especially those people that I have personally met and I know are committed to his/ her partner. Yes, I’ve read the bible.

I believe in the word of God. Yes, all of it.

I trust God to sort out any confusion.

I believe in evolution. And creation. Pretty much line up with the Catholics on this one.

Yes, I still believe I am Christian.

Catholics ARE Christians.

I am pro-life.

I am teaching my children to wait until marriage to have sexual intimacy. This is for their mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

I understand that many are not taught or choose not to follow abstinence until marriage. Wasn’t there even a sexual revolution as some point? They deserve respect in their decision; not shame.

Sex on TV makes me uncomfortable. I think I am normal in this.

All babies are gifts from God. Be supportive, not judgmental.

Except some bug babies. Fire ant babies are gifts from Satan. Jesus told me so.

Birth control (for humans) is practical. Education necessary.

I would love for a woman to make it to the Presidency one day.

I liked Obama as a person, and I found his sense of humor fun.

I disagreed with him politically.

Obamacare raises my blood pressure. Who do write to explain how the Hatches are not elites with this one? Please stop labeling us as recipients of a Cadillac plan. Our Epipens are vital, whether we’ve met a deductible or not.

I can get behind universal healthcare in theory. I would love to have good universal healthcare in reality. Let’s model the Japanese, please.

I believe individuals are much more creative at solving problems than governments are.

I think it is practical for some things to be run by a federal government, but not nearly as many things as we have handed over to it in recent times.

I like state and national parks. And interstates.

I like local food. And victory gardens. And raw milk.

I think the states need to get back to governing many things the federal government does now.

I think common core standards are flawed, but having educational standards makes sense.

I know teachers are smart enough to teach students if administrations would butt out.

Homework is 99% useless.

Worksheets are a waste of ink, wood, and resources.

Parents need to back off on the academic pressure and join in on more family board game nights.

Top teachers need to be admired, rewarded, and promoted as teachers; not turned into administrators.

Some administrators are excellent at running schools.

Keep them. Get rid of the rest.

Homeschooling rocks.

Police deserve respect.

Military is military. Police are police. Don’t let fear blend them.

Fear causes irrational thinking.

Guns are fine. So are laws on who can hold such a serious privilege.

If you own a gun, practice.

Deeper discussion with many perspectives offers better results.

I find Brexit fascinating. Gambling venues predicted Trump would win after following the statistics from Brexit.

We need to hold our own line in the sand with foreign governments.

We need to try to work with foreign governments and offer a gracious handshake to the rest of the world, even while standing on that line.

Capitalism is important.

So are ethics.

If you are spiritual, the argument about global warming is irrelevant. We are called to care for our Earth because it is a gift. Whether global warming is happening or not, we should still treat our environment with great reverence and pass it to our children in better condition than when we inherited it.

Welfare needs reform.

Drug testing of welfare recipients is fair.

If someone tests positive for drugs and they are poor enough to also otherwise qualify for welfare, they still need help, even if they shouldn’t be given more cash.

 

Mental health is a thing. Let’s be open about it.

Vitamin D and iodine can solve a lot of problems.

So can vacation.

 

 

Amen, y’all

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Went to church this morning. Honestly, the whole family barely made it, since at 9:25 am we all of us Hatches sat about the living room, tired and in pajamas, wondering if our presence could be excused this week. 35 minutes til 10 am start time, 20 minute drive….you do the math…

But our church, Allison Creek Presbyterian, decided awhile back to join forces with Liberty Hill AME Zion Church, and it was our turn to go to them. The Hatch family’s first time experiencing a traditionally “black” church. I mean, Liberty Hill had brought some of their worship to us in the past, but this time we got to go worship with them in their sanctuary. Now I’m wondering if anybody from Liberty Hill had their first “white” church experience that day? For many reasons, in the south we still segregate when it comes to religion.  I’m curious if this is a southern thing or an all over thing?

Alas, we both tend to self segregate here.

African American churches have a reputation for being loud and emotional with a tendency to drag their services out past lunch. Hunger pangs, anyone?

White churches have the equal and opposite reputation of being stuffy, reserved, and appreciative of pastors able to summarize quickly. Stand strong and mumble through a few old hymns, right?

Now, when you throw two of our groupings together, it can be quite the experience for everybody.

We hadn’t been there five minutes when my leaky eyes started. It’s a curse all women in my family carry. Easily leaking eyes. First off, right in the front pew sat a mother from our congregation whose son died two days ago. Her daughter died not but a few months back, and this week, she lost her son. Well, seeing her not just at Liberty Hill, but sitting in the front row, made me flash back to going to church for the first time right after my momma passed, and Lordy. It’s a hard thing to sit through a service, composed and holding it together or not, after losing family. Every time I glanced in her direction my eyes leaked.

And the energy in the place. I kept sweating from the very beginning, even though the air conditioning was running. Maybe when a naturally reserved person joins in a lively worship service, the whole body chooses to jump into action. All I know is, now I get why all the regulars carried fans. We sang and praised God and stood up, speaking out, proclaiming, “Amen” with all the good and all the hard and even the funnies. By the time my pastor got to speak, we’d been carried on a wave, swaying to and fro (even some of the ACPC folks joined in) and calling out, showing our appreciation through clapping and singing. Clapped half the service, probably.

Now, just as a little background, our poor Pastor Sam had to follow their Reverend Thelma Gordon with his sermon. She’d preached at our church before, so it was his turn to preach at Liberty Hill. He’d admitted getting nervous earlier in the week, being that Pastor Gordon is known all over the whole York County for her preaching. Yet, honestly, he had no reason to worry. Liberty Hill is nothing if not gracious, and we were all just glad to be worshipping together. And when Pastor Sam preached, he delivered a fantastic sermon, one from his own voice, that spoke to all listening. It spoke of the oppressed becoming oppressors who oppressed who then became oppressors. We travelled from Scotland to Ireland to America to South Carolina to Liberia, this same theme repeating generation after generation. And how hopefully, through our love, we might be able to move past it in our community. How the pattern of sin carried our ancestors away from God and how our two communities, linked through a cruel history, could come together today in love to worship the God who loves us all. A straight arrow kind of message for the day.

Finally, after all was said and done, we fellowshipped. I love how us church people like to call chatting, “fellowshipping”. We gathered in their building and we ate together, a simple lunch of salmon sandwiches and summer tomato salad with fresh baked cakes for dessert. Delicious, made by their hands, again the gracious hosts.

Rev. Gordon told two women joining their congregation that today would be a day they won’t soon forget. We’re home now, back on the couch we left at 9:25am.  And I have to agree.

Amen, y’all.

Amen.

 

 

Making Room for Resurrection

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***Twelfth Night – January 5th on the Christian calendar, the mark to an end of Christmas and the start of the season of Epiphany***

***A Beefeater***

Growing up, each and every Twelfth Night demanded The Boar’s Head Festival, a celebration of merriment, complete with carolers and beefeaters and a boar’s head mounted on a plaque and a yule log and dancers and hand bells and the symphony quartet. It was magnificent and grand and extravagant, and it grew year after year. Being Episcopalian in small town Tennessee usually meant to be a minority, except for Twelfth Night. It was our church’s grand gesture to the whole community. And in a show of curiosity and graciousness, the whole town attended The Boar’s Head Festival, save for the few anonymous fundamentals each year that wrote to the local paper (without fail) calling for an end of our pagan festival and animal sacrifice.

So a couple of weeks ago, I happened to be home on January 5th, eating lunch with Steve, the current priest of my hometown church. Being that I hadn’t been home on this date in years, I asked if St. Andrew’s still put on The Boar’s Head Festival.

And Steve said no.

The church chose to let it go due to the expense and the man hours and hiring the singers and the production of the whole event and how it was mainly the community but not any actual church members coming anymore and so on.

But that letting it go made room for Resurrection.

And the Resurrection may not look like The Boar’s Head Festival.

Initially my thoughts focused on imagining what on Earth could ever replace The Boar’s Head Festival. It had always been.

It was hard to picture anything but what used to be. Why change something that isn’t broken?

Except for those words, the making room for Resurrection.

And I thought about how many, many places in our lives need us to make room for Resurrection.

We as Americans especially, it seems, pride ourselves on busyness and rushing. We clutter our lives and our homes and our time. We spend not only our money, but our energy, and our focus, and our decision making, and our time on being busy, and therefore important, and ultimately proving our value or our wealth or our smartness. And yet, we are drowning under our busy clutter.

Over three million copies of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing have sold. I haven’t read the book, but my understanding is that it helps readers walk through everything in their possession so that they may truly only keep those things that bring purpose and joy into their lives. And all the rest may go. The idea of a micro wardrobe has also taken many by storm, inspiring people to clean out closets, again keeping only those articles of clothing which bring joy in the wearing. The small house movement continues its evolution into tiny houses and mobile units and re-imagined buses. People are desperate for room outside of their stuff and for less to maintain and for relief from the daily stresses of choice.

It makes me ponder the question – What areas of my life could pass on by to make room for resurrection? We homeschool and work and volunteer and cart the kids from sports to music to events to field trips. We are always busy, always, and the list of things we yearn for, that could bring us joy, we keep postponing, and the list of somedays continues to grow. But what if?

What may need to die so that the Resurrection can take place?

Because that’s what Resurrection starts with – death. From the very first Resurrection to our modern day society, death leads to make room, and it can form in so many unsuspecting pathways of our lives.

Standing in the snow, watching my ten year old suffer through an early soccer game, I again questioned if club sports might be one of those things that could die on the vine, be pruned from our lives, in order to explore new avenues and interests. It may be that tomorrow when the sun comes out, soccer again wins the day, but asking these questions remains important. In prioritizing support groups and co-ops and weekly activities, in discussing what we do from day to day to day, we are allowing ourselves to truly recognize which ones bring joy and inspiration. And which ones bring us stress or fear or worry. These are sometimes easy decisions. But sometimes they can seem agonizing, compounded with a mixture of emotion and feelings of attachment or guilt.

But isn’t that the whole point of Resurrection? The first one didn’t come without pain and agony, without conflicting feelings of guilt and sadness and yet still, hope. It came with a whole bunch of mess. But once the death of Jesus happened, once Jesus left,  a space remained. And the Spirit came to us to fill that space up.

We get in ruts and routines and we can’t imagine anything else other than what we do, day after day after day. But what if we stopped? What if we made room in our lives for Resurrection?

Just, what if?

 

 

 

 

 

Soccer Mom Venting

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We’re a soccer family. As in travel soccer. Meaning Oreo cookies, juice boxes, and five minute commutes to games is a thing of the past. No participation medals here. Those ribbons that hang on the wall get earned in this house.

My thirteen year old son started playing soccer when he was five. We did the whole recreational play thing, getting up on Saturday mornings and standing on the sidelines, cheering. Snack sign ups existed back then. (Recreational soccer is feel good.) But then at the ripe old age of seven, a coach suggested Key do a developmental program. Being our first born, we took this as a sign that Key was talented; possibly on a path to scholarships; definitely worth the investment to find out. Since darling actually did want more soccer and the mental benefits to him of running that much were easily visible, we did it. Then the next year, at the prompting of his developmental trainer, we attended the club level evaluations. The coaches promised it wasn’t a big step, given we already participated in the development program. And so our whole club experience began.

At first, we were shell shocked. The jump from Oreo soccer to club soccer is a big one. Yes, it’s just three practices and two games weekly. But those practices are run by professionals, lasting around 90 minutes each, often at locations farther from home. And the two games? Those can be considered local at up to two hours from home, often with start times at 8am and 3pm. Warming up beforehand? Of course! Please be on the fields in matching gear a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour prior to start time. Immediately, the idea of an early cup of joe before a fun little match is over. Whole families are up and dragging toddler siblings around Timbuktu at 5am on a Saturday (and/or Sunday) in order to get to darling’s club game in time. Sound insane? It is.

When we first entered this new realm, it was actually worth it. In many important ways, six years later, it is still worth all this chaos. But along the way, it seems like either I am getting tired, I am gaining perspective on youth sports, the clubs are demanding more each year, or maybe it is all of the above.

The worth in all this is the phenomenal mentors and life lessons and enduring friendships both boys have received. These men (and women on the girls’ side) that coach at the club level, some fathers and some aspiring professional players, offer our boys dedication, energy, character building, training, kindness, and role models. They provide us a positive community of people to coach our boys in much, much more than soccer skills. The coaches my boys have had these past seven years are unsurpassed in their dedication. Plus the training is almost always top notch across the board. I gotta say, in this regard of recreation versus club, you get what you pay  for.  (Not to mention the geography and cultural life learning that comes from looking up the many coaches’ home countries. Seriously. We can check off several US states, plus Canada, Thailand, Uganda, Cote de Ivoire, England, Ireland, Brazil, and Argentina.) The people. The relationships. The superior training in a sport both boys love. The extended friendships for both boys and for us as parents. This is where the worth lies.

The rub comes from the commitment factor. After driving to hundreds of practices and games and giving up family events and vacations with the grands, it gets hard to keep going. Yet when the question of common sense and whether this is all needed in order to build those worthy relationships is raised, the first thing doubted is the commitment. Commitment of the child to the game. Commitment of the parent to their little player’s potential greatness. It has begun to raise in my heart the questions back – When did a nine year old committing all his free time to the game become desirable? Healthy? Reasonable? And when did a nine year old with multiple interests and a need for free play time become undesirable? Less lauded? Requiring excuse or further explanation? And then to take this whole thought process further, let’s trade out the nine year old for the thirteen year old. Why is it unacceptable to only want to play one season per year? Why is year round, meaning both spring and fall, not good enough? Why are players discouraged from taking the winter off? What is the benefit of obsession in sports? When all of our research repeats the dangers of overuse injuries and burn out and anxiety disorders from performance stress, what drives us to ignore common sense? Is it glory? Is it the scholarship? And is that really the reason 98% of them are going to college? For the game?  Can we not develop reasonably trained players, friendships and a sense of commitment to team, without absolute obsession? When my two boys were scheduled for practices thirty minutes apart at overlapping times on the same days and I responded with a concern about our ability to be in two places at the same time, the response from our club? Challenges as described would need to be overcome by more commitment from the parents. When we couldn’t get to an extra conditioning practice or an out of season tournament? Players on this team would need to condition and train during their own free time to be able to continue playing at such a level. Neither of my boys are or strive to be on a premier level team, so is this reasonable? Maybe. But maybe not.

The $4000+ each year it takes to fund two boys in club soccer, the countless hours, the endless driving, the sacrifice of family both in time and in care, the extra volunteer hours – this all is no longer enough. Adding up last year’s fall and spring hours, my then twelve year old (and therefore us as parents as well) spent 320 hours on soccer. I haven’t calculated the then eight year old’s year, but his time commitment was even more hours than his older brother. This means we easily used 700 hours doing soccer last year for a then 3rd grader and 7th grader. And we did less than most families on their teams. Every year, we are asked for more time, more commitment to extended training, more serious focus from our children, and more money from our wallets. All in the name of proving our commitment.

Have we as parents collectively lost our minds? This isn’t enough?

It isn’t enough.

Because it is too much.

And yet, my boys are in the minority (as in the only ones on their teams most likely), because we drew the line this year. No more off season soccer. No winter indoor league. No expensive summer training program. A half day camp for fun because they beg come July? (Miraculously, they still love the darn game.) Mmm, Maybe. But, even that will take some serious thinking. Caving under the pressure that sweet baby will fall behind in skill? Nope. Take it elsewhere. This Chick is claiming back her holidays and her Friday night TV and her Saturday mornings with her cup of joe and her dates with her husband.

Soccer is worthwhile. Sports in general do mimic adult life challenges. The coaches of past and present deserve our utmost gratitude. There is great value in that yearly $4000 investment. (Before y’all balk at that $$, music lessons and all those parents with girls in dance are spending more than me. And to the hockey crazed parents up north, my sports bill is peanuts.)

But rest and care and family and free play and quiet time (AND CHURCH) are also:

worthwhile

valuable

deserving of gratitude

deserving of time

deserving of commitment

And this soccer mom – venting –  needed to get that off her chest.