I’m a soccer mom

Getting directions home from NYC, I asked about taking the Merritt Parkway.

“Don’t do that,” said my cousin. “It’s gorgeous and has all these fabulous bridges, but it’s a super-highway for soccer moms.”

This year I became a soccer mom in the literal way–one of my kids took up soccer.

But lately I’ve found myself caught on the twisting Angelborough roads behind super-slow vehicles, a construction truck or the car driven by the 95-year-old man whose head is not visible over the back of the front seat, but whose hat is.  These are folks doing 20 in a 35 zone because that’s all they can.

I’m okay with that (to a certain extent) but when it happened four times in the same week, I wondered if maybe I’m not in too much of a hurry.

Because everything is ten miles away from Angelborough, and because invariably any two adjacent activities on the schedule are in two different directions from Angelborough, I have the timing engraved in my head. It takes fifteen minutes to get to Kiddo#2’s horses, twenty-five minutes to get to Kiddo#1’s group activities, twenty minutes to get to swim lessons (and 35 minutes to get from the group activity to the swim lessons.)

What’s happened to me? The combination of four kids who can never get into the car at the same time, plus one two-year-old who finds it unendingly hilarious to get into someone else’s seat in the car (“I’m Dada! I’m Dada! Hahahaha!”) plus the inevitable trip upstairs to find the thing I forgot to bring with us on this trip–that happened.

Then I get behind the driver doing fifteen miles per hour under the speed limit (“Oh, sweetie, thirty-five is only the maximum they recommend driving!”) and I tell myself it’s not a big deal.

But it is.

I used to be the person who arrived early enough to help the instructor set up. Nowadays, I arrive two minutes after the start. I’m a J-type. I don’t like to be late, and it raises my blood pressure.

They put up a sign with a radar gun on Main Street, and I was stunned to read the following:

The speed limit is:

35 MPH

Your speed:

57 MPH

I checked the speedometer, horrified, but it said 40.

The next time I passed, I was doing 35 and it claimed I was doing 45.  We figured out later that it got confused by the cars in the other direction because it would jump from 32 to 50 when someone passed me.  I saw in my rear-view mirror when it clocked a phantom driver at 67 MPH as I was going home and no one was approaching it.

But really, have I become that soccer mom with the cup of coffee clutched in one hand and cell phone in the other, blazing around curves in her minivan while texting the gymnastics coach that she’s going to be five minutes late? (Other than the fact that I don’t use a cell phone, of course.)

I’m slowing down. If I’m late, I’m late. I hate that, but it’s better for everyone.


  1. cricketB

    Yep, slowing down and getting the kids to organize themselves. Some things can be changed, like leaving early or preparing launch pads the day before and keeping all the soccer stuff in a bag. (My nemesis is water bottles. You can’t refill them early the way you can wash dance clothes.) The rest, though … it was your turn to be early and help set up. It will be your turn again. Right now it’s your turn to decide whether to drive unsafely between events you have no control over, or keep your heart rate reasonable.

    I’ll have to check the radar gun signs around here.

  2. philangelus

    There’s a second radar gun that is accurate. My Patient Husband said it’s a calibration thing because it’s not eliminating the bounce-back from the cars going in the wrong direction.

    I’m not sure I was ever driving unsafely, but I know I’m driving stressed, and that can’t possibly be good for anyone.

    1. Kaci

      Hehe. It does sound like you’re reaching a point where carpooling may be a necessity, though.

    2. Ken Rolph

      Those radar guns which flash warning figures don’t actually work. It’s partly a budetary thing. They don’t want to waste money installing a working device. If you were really going that fast they would make some money by giving you a ticket.

      Instead they use psychological techniques to get you to slow down. They just flash a random high number in the hope that this will cause you to look at your speedo.

  3. Normandie

    Fortunately, my soccer mom days were spent in rural America. Yes, we drove 30 minutes to get to the field, and one of the kids invariably had to go with some other mom (alternating games, “It’s your turn next time,” answered usually with, “but, Mom!”) because the other team played 30 minutes away in the opposite direction, but at least we had lovely fields en route and no other traffic in the way.

    I used to drive the Merritt on my way north to visit my eldest at school in Boston. Gorgeous, but those on-ramps! I couldn’t believe there were highways without a merge lane. Zero to sixty in twelve feet. The same thing on that highway toward Gloucester.MA — it’s been a while and the brain doesn’t remember which one. I couldn’t believe my child drove those roads daily. I felt as if my heart lodged permanently in my throat.

  4. cricketB

    Our league sometimes has the same league playing at two different fields. Last year there were 6 GU9 teams. One site had two fields, the other one field. They were diagonally across the city, 20 minutes minimum. We had to read the schedule every week. No, we weren’t the only family to arrive 20 minutes late because of it.