Taking a short stroll in my mother’s shoes

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By Kirsten Laskey

I’ve seen them wherever I lived. They roam around in minivans, arm themselves with enormous purses and yield cameras to document every minute. Of course, there are always a gaggle of young children following this individual – the soccer mom.

Growing up, I thought these women were targets for mockery.

I couldn’t imagine taking motherhood to the extreme and becoming a suburban cliché. But after watching two of my sister’s children last week, I realized these women have a lot of admirable qualities.

The first characteristic I envy is their preparedness. While the three of us were taking a jaunt in my Beetle, my sister’s oldest son, Connor, had a runny nose. I didn’t have one single Kleenex on me.

It’s rather shameful considering my mother, a genius, always has a tissue in her pocket, purse or glove compartment to dole out to anyone with a case of the sniffles.

The second quality of a soccer mom I wished I possess was organization. Last week, I patted myself on the back for planning an excursion to the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center; however, I failed to notice on the pool’s Web site that the public swim wasn’t until 11 a.m. As a result, Connor, his sister, Mairen, and I arrived at the pool an hour and 40 minutes early.

I brushed this minor setback aside and declared to the kids that we were going to the library. Yet, when we approached the library’s doors, it was closed.  

Again, I wished I was more like my mother, who is a wizard when it comes to time management. She has a real knack for knowing how long it takes to get to any destination and when stores, markets, swimming pools, libraries – you name it – are open and closed.

The three of us settled on the skateboard park to pass some time and I perched on one of the concrete slabs to observe my niece and nephew gallop over the slopes, hills and staircases of the park.

When it was finally time to go to the pool, I prided myself for being smart enough to possess at least one skill of a soccer mom – being equipped with all the necessary supplies.

This lesson was learned the hard way. Last summer I watched all three of my sister’s kids. We took a trip to a park in White Rock. Everything went smoothly until we were ready to return home and Connor refused to budge. He was hot, tired and needed his mother. In vain, I tried to carry Connor, who was 5 years old at the time, while pushing the baby’s stroller. This, of course, was ridiculous; so I centered my attention on encouraging Connor to hoof it back to his house.  Meanwhile, Marian amused herself by climbing on the fence which edged right up against a fairly busy main street.

After I told my mother this story, she said I should have brought snacks. Connor was hungry, she explained.

I remembered this sage advice last week and raided my sister’s pantry for crackers and fruit. It worked; Marian and Connor gobbled their bunny crackers that afternoon.

We had fun at the aquatic center. We jumped in and out of the main pool and the therapy pool multiple times and my sister’s kids tried out every available pool toy at least once.

The day wrapped up with a trip to the playground and a viewing of a taped production of a “The Nutcracker” starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. Perhaps it’s an odd thing to watch in March but the kids enjoyed it. It was a fun day but I was still rather relieved when my brother-in-law walked through the door.

I was given a taste of parenthood that day and I realized just how much work my sister and brother-in-law perform daily.

Thinking a little bit more about this experience, I realize something else; it is not so much those seemingly perfect soccer moms I admire but my own mother. I was aware of how good she was growing up but I never knew how good until I walked, for a little bit, in her shoes.