My Journey Through Frostbite (Or, “Hi, I’m a Soccer Mom”)

Two of my sons play soccer, and I am very pleased about that.  It's an interesting and fast-paced sport, with many opportunties for gentleman-like behavior.  I'm an enthusiastic soccer mom–a shin-guard-washing, Gatorade-mixing, uniform-bleaching, sideline-cheering soccer mom.

Except when it's cold.

One of the curious quirks of this sport is that, especially as kids get older and begin playing more competitively, it becomes essentially a year-round activity.  There are off-season practices and tournaments, which means you may have to get to watch your child play in blazing, subtropical heat, as well as frigid, arctic blasts.  It's the type of information they don't tell you during Lamaze classes, or you might just back out of the whole deal.

This weekend my middle son played in an out-of-town tournament.  The forecast was in the '20's, so we went prepared:  my son wore numerous layers under his uniform, and we brought along mounds of cold-weather gear and blankets for the rest of us.  I thought we'd be fine.

I was wrong, of course.  Even though I've lived in Oklahoma for nearly seven years, I can never quite get used to the wind.  It not only comes sweepin' down the plains, it also threatens to remove the top layer of your skin.  It makes a sunny day in the '20's feel like Everest Base Camp.

The first match started, and we all huddled under mounds of blankets for an endless amount of time.  And by "an endless amount of time" I mean "20 minutes", because that's how long it was before my daughter started complaining of the cold.  There are many huge reasons I am thankful that sweet child was unexpectedly born into our family: the laughter, the songs, the pure joy and delight.  And also the fact that having a preschooler buys a mom a free pass to sit in the car.  "Sorry," I shrugged at the other blue-lipped moms.  "Corrie is too cold."  They nodded in understanding, and I think a couple of them glanced around to see if they, too, could find any shivering four year olds.

Thankfully, we had a parking spot that offered a decent view of the game.  Corrie and I thawed out while we watched Stephen play on.  I slipped off my shoes and propped my feet up on the dash.  Outside the wind blew so fiercely that the car shook.  The howling was fierce, and I closed my eyes and thought to myself that this must surely be how Ma Ingalls felt on those cold nights in the cabin on the Minnesota prairie.  If, that is, Ma Ingalls' cabin had bucket seats, a dashboard, and a Leapster.

It was still a great game.  My brave Hubs never once left the sidelines, even dashing over to the huddle during halftime to drape a blanket over our son's shoulders.  "Wow," I thought to myself, watching him from the car.  "What a great dad he is.  I love that man."  Clearly not enough to get out and help him, mind you, but still a good bit.  When it was all over, he and Stephen headed to the car–Stephen's face glowed with the excitement of a well-played match (or maybe it was wind-burn).  Either way, he climbed into the car full of enthusiasm, his body shivering from his capped head to his multi-socked toe. 

"So," he said, his blue lips barely able to form words.  "Let's go get some ice cream."

And we did.

47 thoughts on “My Journey Through Frostbite (Or, “Hi, I’m a Soccer Mom”)

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’m such a terrible soccer mom. I was at a soccer tournament in my OK town today (I think the same one as you), and it was cold! I was a wimp and sat in the car the entire time. I blamed it on the baby!

  2. Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience says:

    “I love that man.” Clearly not enough to get out and help him, mind you, but still a good bit.
    I howled!
    You do the world such good with this laughter medicine, Dr. Shannon…
    Chuckling and feeling tremendously alive gloriously grateful for the simple life…
    All’s grace,

  3. Hillary says:

    I often wonder how Ma Ingalls did it!
    I have already out-and-out MISSED a ton of soccer games and blamed and/ or used the baby as my excuse. But I’m sure when they’re older I’ll have to be there bundled up and wind- chapped with the rest of the soccer mom crew. It will be frozen gatorade this time of year! And ice cream? WOW!
    Great story!

  4. maudie-mae says:

    I was a baseball mom, and I braved the frigid winds and blazing sun for many years to watch my son play, until they put me in the press box to keep score. I yelled too loud for the other moms I think, so dang it, I had to stay in the climate controlled press box for the duration of his high school career. =)

  5. Linds says:

    When my oldest son was small, we lived in South Africa, which is not known for Arctic winds, but believe me, we side line Mums learned very fast to go and invest in Snowboots. The ones with thick thick soles. Believe me, the best investment of my life. It never snows in SA might I add, but wow, were we prepared. We stayed warm. That and the kind of windproof gear which one would use on the slopes of Everest. Check out the winter sales now!

  6. K says:

    I love this…especailly the Ma Ingles…luckily here in the Lowcountry in SC we don’t have the bitter, bitter cold, but I have sat through games being eaten alive from Sand-gnats! Spraying bug-spray wildly at my head and body, hold anti-bug incense and jumping around like a jumping bean all in the name of watching her play 2 minutes of the game!

  7. Kim says:

    I always love to come visit your blog. As much as I love spreading laughter I love getting some in return and I so get that here. Thank you for your quit wit and joy.

  8. prasti says:

    brrr…we’re in the teens today so i feel your pain. they offer indoor soccer during the “off-season” here in OH, but even when spring time rolls around and they start playing outside it’s still cold (and often rainy) until may.

  9. Jessica says:

    I too am in Oklahoma and you are right, that wind can take your skin off! While I am not a soccer mom yet, I was for many seasons a soccer Aunt! I went to ever game, snow, wind or sunshine! I love that your son wanted to get ice cream. That sounds like something my little 7 year old niece would say!

  10. Jennifer McGuire says:

    I live in Iowa but visited my parents in Oklahoma this past week and even I thought it was down right miserable out there Saturday. Of course, I get home and its still miserable…but being from Oklahoma anything under 30 feels like Antarctica. Thanks for writing in a way that makes me thankful I’m an Okie!

  11. Tara Foster says:

    Shannon, I could have written this post! I don’t think I’ve EVER been as cold as I was Saturday at soccer! I have three that play, so we always have 6 games….every Saturday! I, too, have a 4-year old that is a great excuse to watch from the car. The only problem is that she plays too, so we had to sit in our bag chairs for her games. OH MY THE COLD! It was miserable!
    Loved this post… I’m right there with ya’ Sister!

  12. Taylor at Household Management 101 says:

    My daughter isn’t playing soccer this season (forgot to register her in time, bad mommy!) but I have done the whole go to the car thing before because it was just too darn cold for me and the other kids.
    Wouldn’t you know it, but one of the few times my daughter has scored a goal was while I and her little brother were sitting in the car shivering, so we didn’t see a thing!

  13. KayKay says:

    Two of my daughters played soccer and my husband and I have always said that it is the most brutal sport for the spectators. You are always either freezing or burning up. My older daughter played once in a fierce rain – they didn’t stop the game until the tornado sirens started blowing.
    We were glad when they switched to basketball!

  14. Laura@HeavenlyHomeamakers says:

    Yeah, I’m a soccer mom from Nebraska…I FEEL your pain. (Like I’m cold right now and feel like crying just from reading this post.)
    Thankfully I have a shivering four year old that I MUST think of during games like that. I mean…I just couldn’t possibly let him sit out in that, now can I?

  15. Molly says:

    Ah yes the memories!
    We all have invested in under Armor of various colors and lengths (to match the uniform you know).
    I have a stash of hand warmers that stay in the car YEAR ROUND as well as a huge bag of other “never know when you need it soccer essentials”.
    people wonder WHY we need suv’s…

  16. Jean Stockdale says:

    My oldest played soccer and we had similiar experiences! One out of town game was so cold that all the other moms sat in the cars with the heaters on, but oh no, not me! I had put on every bit of clothing I had packed and some of my husbands and borrowed a blanket from the hotel and wore it like a cape so that I could pace along the sidelines to keep frostbite on my feet at bay. Until your child is old enough to do it for himself, I rise up and call you blessed.” Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” (Prov. 31). Well done. Blessings.

  17. Traci Best says:

    LOL! Oh I totally can identify with you! Our first sashay into youth sports was indeed soccer. It was about two years ago now I suppose…and we alternated between freezing our biscuits off and getting sunburned.
    This year we are playing basketball and I enjoy it SO much more! I am having a hard time trying to convice myself that we should sign up for the spring soccer league! πŸ˜‰

  18. little i says:

    i’m on my way there! My oldest son is playing tennis (who thought tennis in MARCH was a good idea?), and my two babies are beginning baseball this week. (Again, who thought baseball in MARCH was a good idea?)
    i had the four-year-old excuse last year. This year, however, he’ll be on the field.
    Maybe i should invest in a Snuggie, or Slanket, or whichever one wins the lawsuit?!?!

  19. Kelly @ Love Well says:

    My kids do this too — and we live in Minnesota. It can be -10 for the high that day, and they’ll get in the car after school and say, “Oh! I know! Let’s go to Dairy Queen!”

  20. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers says:

    Okay, I totallyu could have lived without tht post. Not that it wasn’t a good one, mind you. It made me laugh. Unfortunately, it also reminded me what we’ll be facing as softball practice starts this week.
    And, my sweet little youngest girl, who used to buy me a ticket to sit in the van, is the one playing.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I absolutely loved this post and of course ice cream is perfect since it won’t melt! Love that!!
    We love watching our son play soccer. He skipped it this year to try basketball but we hope he goes back to it. I’d rather freeze (or hang out in the car) then be toasty in a gym for bball. To me it’s also much more exciting to see them playing through mud and water puddles!

  22. Beth says:

    As a soccer mom, I know you’re very lucky to have found a parking spot where you can still see the game. We’re in FL so we’re usually fighting the heat & thunderstorms more than the cold, but when we travel to out of state tournaments it’s anyone’s game.

  23. Sandy @ Jesus and Dark Chocolate says:

    Time to buy pink mommy Under Armour!!! πŸ™‚
    Trust me I know how about mommy Under Armour, long underwear, layers of blankets, those little hand warmer things that you shake and stuff them in your gloves, feet, or where ever needed.
    Maybe we should get together and invent an electric, heated chair for parents to watch games. A shiatsu massage built into it would also be nice!

  24. Ruth says:

    Our local high school’s soccer season happens during the winter months which wouldn’t be too much of a problem except for the snow and the rain that often accompanies winter here. They give home field advantage a whole new meaning, especially since the teams from the warmer climates can barely drive in the snow to get to the games. πŸ™‚

  25. kara says:

    That’s too funny! We have 3 in soccer, here in Oklahoma. Our games were canceled on Saturday. We’re joking that someone at the club must have lost their coat in all the warm weather we WERE having.
    We’ve started bringing sleeping bags (the mummy kind) to the soccer games. You can slide in, zip up and be relatively warm…

  26. Mandy says:

    I am a football mom for a select team that practices 10 months out of the year. I am so with ya here! Either it is 100 degress or feels like 10 below!

  27. Jamie says:

    I didn’t see where a link to post a comment on the blog about the scare tactics. I can vouch that the illness they are referring to does strike that fast. I know this because my son appeared to be perfectly fine when I put him to bed one evening and by morning when I got him up, he was stiff as a board from the spinal meningitis. Thanks to fast-acting doctors and a great hosptial, he survived. He took 4 weeks in the hospital and sever trips thereafter, but he recovered without any major side effects. It was a very scary time and hit fast.

  28. Kellyology says:

    Yes. yes. and yes. This was my past wonderful Okie weekend as well. The wind is just so brutal. I watched the last game from the car as well. I just had to.

  29. Pam says:

    If you are raising boys my daughter (an educator) highly recomends the book “the minds of boys) especially if they participate in any sports.
    Pam, South Bend

  30. Daiquiri says:

    Oh…tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s first soccer practice. Is it too late to change my mind? We haven’t bought the shin guards or cleats yet…

  31. Miriam says:

    I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, so you might think I would have fair rights to mock you thoroughly. Sadly, I can’t do that because in my freshman year of college I went to OK to do a mountain bike race and we all thought it would be no big deal to sleep outside the night before. I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE, it was so dang cold with that wind and the long gray dawn! Sorry, it appears I’m feeling a little dramatic.
    I’m duly impressed with your tough cookie wanting ice cream after that!

  32. Tracey says:

    I remember sitting in the car on freezing cold days when my bro played soccer when we were young. Luckily for me, my parents always seemed to get that perfect spot in the parking lot, just so you could see enough of the game to report back on how well he played.
    I feel you, honey, I feel you πŸ™‚

  33. Sydney says:

    Oh wow. I just came across your blog, and as a wife to a soccer player (as well as a wife to a man who will brave the freezing cold to go watch Real Salt Lake play a game), I thought it was perfect. I am from Nebraska, and I love, love, love the Little House on the Prairie books. πŸ™‚ Your writing style is one that makes one get drawn into the story. I sat here and was sucked in with just the first sentence! Thanks for the laughs. πŸ™‚
    β™₯ Sydney – soccer-lovin’ mama to two boys and wife to a soon-to-be-Navy-sailor. πŸ™‚

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