The Goalkeeper’s Family

2129 2129_ () 2129 2129 Our oldest son and his middle school soccer team were in the league championship game this past weekend. It was exciting and nerve-wracking and emotionally draining. There were tears of joy and frustration, screams of victory and wails of defeat.

And that was just from me on the sidelines.
My son, you see, is the goalie. Being the goalkeeper’s mother is one of the most intense parenting moments I have experienced to date.
When Ethan was first moved to goal earlier in the season, I didn’t think much about it. Maybe I thought something like “Oh rats, I’ll miss seeing him running around on the field.” I may have even considered the goalie position to be something of a consolation prize, like the slot you go to when you don’t throw yourself into the mix with enough fervor.
I was wrong. So wrong.
Over the course of the season, I watched my boy become a rockstar goalie — what started as him doing a nice job of grabbing the ball that came directly to him, well that turned into him leaping and lurching and diving for everything within his domain.
He also finessed his kick and by the end of the season had a beautiful punt that hurled the ball down the field after each attempt on goal.
This past Friday was the big game. We couldn’t believe our team was in the finals — we started out losing the first four games of the season. But then something changed and Coach gave a compelling pep talk and it was, apparently, just what the boys needed to hear.
They hardly lost another game after that.
The game was amazing, but I was a nervous wreck. My stomach hurt, my neck felt tight. I was totally distracted the entire day of the game. Yes I know losing a soccer game isn’t the end of the world, but I was so excited for our guys — to see them come so far and have this opportunity in the playoffs and get the chance to maybe take home first prize.
Also, my son is goalie.
The night of the game as we cheered from the stands, I had a few moments when my heart palpitations were almost more than I could stand. It was all so exciting. Each time the ball came down towards our goal I would grab Paul’s arm (or the arm of whomever I happened to be near) and we would scream and cheer.
“I can’t handle this,” I would think — and then my boy would stop the ball in some outrageous fashion and everyone would cheer with abandon and I would blink back tears of delight. My goodness you have come so far, I thought, watching my son from across way.
At one point a player on the other team came sprinting towards our goal and it was a one-on-one battle — just my son and this player who was coming full force at him. Ethan ran out of the goal (and here is where I almost covered my eyes) and with as much speed as the opposing player, ran to the ball and threw himself on top of it. He was a soldier on a grenade and the opposing player had no choice but to veer off at full-force.
We lost the game by one goal and that was really, really tough. Still, as any parent knows, you are just so proud of your child. Having First Place would have been great, but it was really only hard for me to watch the team’s disappointment. I could not have been prouder. They had improved and gelled as a team and it was a beautiful thing to behold.
The next day, our family was running an errand in the van and I was staring out the window reflecting on the game. I was thinking about how hard we all cheered, about how proud Paul and I were to watch our son become such a strong member of the team.
“Being the goalie’s mom is not for wimps,” I said to Paul after a minute.
“What do you mean,” asked one of the boys from the back of the vehicle.
“Yesterday was just really nerve-wracking,” I told the boys. “I think I was nervous all day!”
“Me too,” said the goalie’s younger brother, “that’s why I kept passing gas.”

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  1. It's like being a pitcher's mom. Very nervewracking.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I, too, am a goalie's Mom. I loved this post! I guess I should add, I am a goalie's Mom and that goalie has siblings – so I laughed – very hard – at the end of the post!

  3. I don't have any goalie's – yet. But I can imagine how difficult that would be. Sounds like the goalies younger brother is very good at empathizing. Hilarious!

  4. Being the goalie's mom gets easier over time. I used to sit on the sideline and worry, freak out and pray while my daughter was in net. After watching her go from picking her nose in net to actually throwing herself on the ball and challenging opponents, I've learned to just sit back and relax. Do I heckle her if she gets scored on? Why yes, I do. I'll loudly remind her that she's supposed to stop the black and white round thing from going in the net. She in turn will roll her 9 year old eyes at me and either shout that she knows that or give me a big "Thanks, Mom!". Other mom's from the team now do what I used to do a year ago and freak out when they see their daughter standing in the net. When they ask me how I can act like nothing's wrong when my daughter's the goalie I just tell them it takes time to get used to it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Have you tried the "tail-gate rosary"? That was the tactic I resorted to the ten weeks my son was on the highschool football team. Those too were the most intense and nerve wrecking weeks of my life. So those were the ten weeks I think I prayed the hardest. And I let the Coach know that as well. I prayed not that they win but that they stay focused, give their best, and most importantly, not get injured!! I experience some serious FB withdrawls after those ten weeks were over. It is all so bitter/sweet. Kudos on the team getting that far! It is always an accomplishment in the end.

  6. I agree with Jen about the pitching! None of mine have ever been the main goalie, but I've spent a few baseball games with a knotted stomach!!

  7. Danielle says:

    Oh my gosh! That last line had me spitting out chocolate milk and laughing so hard I cried!

  8. Joe @ Defend Us In Battle says:

    As a young dad, I read your blog with an "eye of what is to come" but this one hit oddly close to home.

    When I was 3, I started playing hockey. At 6 I started playing organized, and at 7 I tried playing goalie once. My first game I got a shut-out and was hooked. This was of course to the dismay of my parents. For the first year or two, I alternated with other kids, and the equipment was the teams. But as I got older, came the super expensive goalie equipment, and I the sadness of me "never scoring goals." Or at least that is what I thought the problems were.

    I guess I never really thought of how nervous they were, ever. My mom and dad were at every game (save one for my dad when he was in the hospital.) I guess I never realized how nerve-wracking it was for them. It also reminds me of just 2 years ago, while in law school, I was playing with a bunch of guys from school and we made it to the championship and lost during a shootout. Afterwards my mom made a comment, and I guess she must have been nervous… even though a game like that hardly mattered in the cosmos of things.

    So I thank you for this post, its funny how we can miss what is right before our eyes… and a little something for you, after that game 2 years ago my mom made the comment that she got to have a lifetime of excitment and fun watching me… I guess to her it was worth it… I am sure it will be that way for you as well.

  9. Marcie says:

    I was SO not expecting that last line, and I'm sure if I had a mouth full of chocolate milk I too would have found myself cleaning off the computer screen as I laughed out loud!

  10. Kelly@inthesheepfold says:

    I played softball for many years, but pitched just one season. The experience of pitching is very much as you describe goalkeeping. It feels like everything's riding on you.

    Great season for Ethan and all the boys!

  11. greg's wife says:

    I felt your every emotion…I was on edge with teary eyes until the last line, and I would have wrecked the van had I been driving. As a mother to 7 youngin's, we often have comments like that, and they never cease to bring me to my knees in hysterical laughter, or prayer for their future in prison. Thank you for candidly sharing your life with the world!