not really a soccer mom

We’ve hit the turning of the year here at Rainshadow Farm.

The days are shorter and the shadows are longer. It’s a melancholy time, laced with such sweetness. That’s what autumn always has been for me, no matter where I’ve lived.

This year my youngest child has turned 18. Some of my friends mark that moment with high school ceremony. Graduation, prom, that sort of thing. We’ve homeschooled/unschooled all of these years and I see different landmarks. Learning to drive and then actually driving away from our house, down the bumpy dirt road to hang out with some of his friends moved me in that direction. That’s expected. Our babies grow up.

This fall what hit me from behind was soccer. Today my son finished up his last fall tournament. He’ll play in the spring again and maybe he’ll play in college, but this fall has been the turning point for me.

I’ve raised eight kids and six of them have played soccer, at least for a while. A few of them have played it with passion and intensity. What this season in our lives has looked like from where I stand includes all the sorts of fall days that the high desert and mountains can produce – from baking noonday sun to overcast days with blowing snow or spitting rain. Or 50 mile per hour winds sending up clouds of dust and tumbleweeds across the desert floor. It has looked like a giant red wagon loaded with toddlers and lunch, snacks and water. It has looked like a very pregnant me with a toddler on my hip and a bunch of kids streaming off to different fields, raucous, running through the grass, kicking up the dirt, and gathering in the midst of crowds of teammates. It has looked like brothers and sisters watching each other’s games.

We’re talking 32 years of local soccer here, first with two parents and then with a mom alone. Various levels of involvement. Be sure, my involvement right now is not the boisterous young soccer mom running between games to try to see everyone play, at least for a while. Last year I used a cane to navigate the field I was on today, freely walking. Maybe I’ll be using a cane again in the spring, but I’m not going to dwell on that. Who knows? That’s not the point. The point is that as I sat in the warm November sun in the Antelope Valley watching a bunch of teenage guys be athletic all over the place, I was marking today’s images. A turn of someone’s head. A crazy grin. A tease. Brendan sliding along the sideline, trying to keep that ball in play. All of it punctuated by the feel of the sun on my back and the warm breeze.
Something beautiful is drawing to a close.

For once it’s a closing that holds the promise of an opening in its hands.

That brought me real pleasure.

Lately so many closings have brought a sadness, a bleakness, a lack of clarity. Watching this last game of the season reminded me that some closings carry their own joyful potential right at the moment of turning.

I needed that today. It’s enough.

Co-ed practice by Erin Ward

Co-ed practice by Erin Ward


Pensive moment.

Pensive moment.

About rainshadowfarm

I teach anthropology, am an archaeologist, a drylands agroecologist, community educator, and a single mother of eight grown kids. I currently own and operate an educational and research farm in the southern Mojave Desert, Rainshadow Farm. I'm 100% West Virginia hillbilly. Not necessarily in that order.
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