By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com May 14 2014 11:00 AM ET
First things first – I am the stay-at-home parent in our relationship so am essentially the matriarch of our family, or rather, the “gaytriarch.” I run the house, make sure everybody looks good, and make sure everybody does what they’re supposed to do. I make the rules, happily enforce them, and don’t mind being chopped liver compared to my happy-go-lucky husband. It didn’t happen like this overnight, but rather organically and out of necessity. I consider myself to be “indoorsy,” so I’m the one who plays board games and does homework with our son, and my husband takes him outside to ride bikes and kick a ball. Thank God.
Growing up, I wouldn’t categorize myself as a total sissy, but I sure as hell wasn’t a jock. I was somewhere smack in the middle. I did an average job at sports and fortunately was never the last one in a race or the last one to be picked for a game. It didn’t mean I enjoyed it – I just barely did enough to get by. My husband, on the other hand, played sports his whole life and still likes to brag that he was the captain of his football team. Never have I appreciated this as much as when we had our son. I greatly underestimated how much the little man would love outdoor activities and am thrilled that my husband excels in this area. Between the two of us, we have every base covered. Except for when he goes out of town.
By nature, my husband’s job calls for a lot of traveling – he is a trial attorney for large corporations, and he has to go wherever the headquarters are. When he isn’t at trial, his hours aren’t bad, but when he is, he can be gone for up to two months at a time. As lonely as it may get, I still keep things relatively under control at the house. I make sure to get our son outside as much as possible and do my best to make sure he stays happily active. My husband decided to sign him up for soccer, and then a “surprise trial” popped up and he ditched us. Normally I would be fine with this – I’ve taken him to swim lessons and didn’t think soccer would be much different. Man, was I wrong.
My parents put me in soccer when I was a child. I don’t remember much good about it, except for that I got some really cute pictures from it and got to drink Gatorade when it was over. I didn’t like it at all and bitched and complained about it until they pulled me out. I just didn’t get it. It seemed like something to stick a kid into just to get rid of excess energy, of which I had zero. I was perfectly OK reading books all day and wasn’t overweight, so I think they just did it because they felt like they had to. My son, however, is clearly going to be a jock. He can kick the shit out of a soccer ball, and with precision. It became crystal clear that this was something we should nurture.
I stayed blissfully ignorant about his soccer lessons up until I learned I would be taking him solo. I got the little guy all pumped the morning of, and he was excited to wear his shin guards and cleats. We live in a small town, and there are huge soccer fields very close to us, so we drove there in the morning with plenty of time to spare. Parking was a nightmare – and after driving around for a while, we finally found a less-than-ideal spot. We made it just in time, and it took me a while, but I found the field with all the other 4-year-olds. He almost instinctively knew what to do, and then the coaches came over to me to get his name. He wasn’t on the first coach’s list. He wasn’t on the second coach’s list, and he wasn’t on the third coach’s list. They didn’t make a big deal of it and let him play anyway. Then I called my husband and he told me I had taken him to the wrong field. Whoops. I scooped up our son and quietly exited, with my tail between my legs. He was upset, so I explained to him that we would be driving to the right field. So far my kid had been playing soccer for all of 20 minutes, and I still managed to fuck that up.
We drove to the proper field, and I went through the same motions of having to find the right game. Of course it was all the way in the back, and by now we were almost an hour late. The coach was very nice and let him play with the next group – so it all worked out. Meanwhile, I was absolutely amazed and horrified by all of the parents on the sidelines, screaming at their preschool kids to be more aggressive. These were clearly the parents who would end up being “soccer moms,” which I will never understand. The kids listened, of course, and it was painfully obvious that this was the beginning of what would be a cycle for them – performing for their parents and getting yelled at when they don’t do as expected. My kid was not as into it as we thought – he hung in there a little bit and kicked the ball around until he was tired. We left about 40 minutes into it, because he was done with it. I didn’t want to push him and make him do something he didn’t want, and moreover I didn’t give a shit what the other parents thought. I will have to take him at least two more times by myself, and I will continue to glare at the parents who borderline harass their kids. I will always be a supportive soccer parent, but will never sink to the depths of being a full-blown soccer mom.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.