I don’t call myself a soccer mom. Yet, all 3 of my kids play soccer and have done so for the past 10 years. I remember watching them with their little preschool legs barreling towards the ball, determined looks on their pink faces. Now their bodies are taller than my own and their strength and speed completely astonish me. It is a pleasure to watch them play, though I don’t attend every soccer game. In fact, last year I attended very few. As I said, I don’t call myself a soccer mom. Instead, I remind my kids that I’m a “dud mom when it comes to soccer.” They accept me this way.

What’s hard for me about attending soccer games is the emotional intensity that engulfs me when I sit with the other families and spectators on the sidelines. Soccer people, especially those with children on the field, can get, well, intense. It’s not uncommon for parents to holler and fuss if they disagree with a call that a referee makes or feel that another player is being unnecessarily rough with their child. Sometimes the coaches get incredibly heated as well. I’ve witnessed parents and coaches alike get into screaming matches right in front of the kids.

Several years ago, my son was a referee at a game and a coach didn’t like a call he made so he verbally harassed my son for the remainder of the game. Parents reported the coach’s behavior to the league leadership and told me about it afterwards since I was on another field at the time. My son was 12.

We are living in an interesting time. People are getting away with bold behaviors that are disruptive, disrespectful, threatening, and dangerous. As an empath, I am particularly sensitive to the moods and energy of those around me. I have to take special care to give myself extra space (physical and emotional) when I know I’m going to be in crowds of people. This often means that I either find one parent with whom I am friends to sit with or that I sit way off to the side under a tree by myself. Either option provides me with a buffer zone so I don’t get swept up into the emotional and energetic intensity of those around me.

I’ve learned many different techniques that create opportunities to maintain harmony and calm within myself. When I carry that peace within, I can arrive at the soccer field (and anywhere else) feeling protected and fortified. Am I always good at cultivating this before I arrive at intense gatherings? Of course not. Do I sometimes get swept up in the frenzy? Indeed, I do. But I’m doing my best and practicing each day. And often times, I simply opt out of the gig altogether, choosing instead to sleep in for those early morning games or spending my time supporting others in their soul’s journeys.

When I start to feel guilty about missing games, I ask my kids how they feel about it and they always tell me the same thing: “It’s fine mom. We don’t mind that you don’t come to every game”. I’m choosing to believe them. What about you? What practices do you use to maintain a peaceful state within? Which things do you opt out of to maintain your peace?

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