”She’s June Cleaver in a minivan” (Anchorage Daily News, November 3,1996).

Soccer moms are the necessary evil of the post-industrial bourgeoisie. Described as an underground network of middle-aged white Christian women who are apparently the sole justification for repealing the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. They are depicted as someone who spends far too much time at the fake-n'-bake, barely stands five feet tall on her tiptoes, drives an SUV the size of a Sherman tank because she has a female Napoleon complex. Well that’s according to the unofficial and off the record contributions at urbandictionary.com. It's not only in the dictionary, but on the record and the earliest citation for the phrase in print appeared in The Associated Press on October 14th, 1982.

    A judge has found a husband guilty of looting $3,150 from the treasury of the Soccer Moms booster club in Ludlow headed by his wife. Joseph Decosta, 34, of Ludlow, was found guilty Wednesday and ordered to spend a month in jail and make restitution to the club, which runs candy sales and the like to raise money for soccer games for 400 boys and girls ages 6 to 19.
While alpha moms top the “A list” for play dates for third graders because they come complete with a backyard, a fridge full of goodies and a mother who plays, a soccer mom (SOK.ur mawm) is defined as a white, suburban woman who is married and has children and one of those myths of motherhood created for the sole purpose of political beliefs along with welfare queens, waitress moms, and super moms.

Soccer moms and SUVs go together like carrots and peas. They’re the outcome of media driven Mommy Wars throughout the evolution of 20th century American social policy and political debates surrounding child care focused on competing maternal ideals. This makes mothers the primary target population for political policies. At odds are the shared, political, and cultural values that have pitted the stay-at-home “Soccer Mom” in opposition to the career-oriented “Super Mom.” The mythical “Welfare Queen” and working poor “Waitress Mom,” in disparity, are not even a blip on the media’s radar in this combat for the supreme apotheosis of motherhood.

Maternal myths in American society are shaped by mass media outlets and while analysts and academics carry on the debate about the implications of American motherhood, the majority of mothers work both outside and inside of their homes. “This ongoing competition,” says one researcher, “between different ideologies and mythologies of motherhood tends to degrade and minimize maternal choices about work, family, and child care stereotypes of American mothers each developed at a specific time in our history and yet, have proven exceedingly resilient despite demographic and experiential evidence to the contrary." Deliberations about child care policy in this country carries on over maternal employment and family structure, meanwhile employed and full-time stay-at-home mothers see it as a war against all mothers. Many see the false dichotomy between working and non-working mothers, which leaves nearly all groups of mothers feeling attacked and on the defensive.

In fact, both public opinion and social science research confirm that the image of a” June Cleaver” housewife in the 1950s continues to serve as the most dominant myth of American motherhood.” What’s most astonishing is that full-time motherhood is actually an historical abnormality both across the globe and in American culture. All the same, the June Cleaver icon, with a few revisions along the way, has been the mainstay for decades. In reality a current study by the Families and Work Institute established that 50% of married working mothers agreed “it is much better for everyone involved if the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and children” In addition, roughly 68% of respondents in a 1997 poll on child care thought that “the best family structure was one where a mother stays home to raise her children full time.”

    Somewhere along the way, the stressed-out, minivan-driving juggler of lives and roles was awarded the title of MVP in the competition for voters. She became the icon of 1996, nearly running over the Angry White Male of 1994 in her new Dodge Caravan.

    But in politics, as in soccer, you have to use your head. A trip through the post election world is a reminder that her role was a touch inflated. Suburban, married moms with kids at home were never more than 6 percent of the voters. Gary Langer at the ABC News Polling Unit calls them simply the "group du jour." He fairly sputters at the idea that they could swing anything but a headline.
    —Ellen Goodman, "Meet the worried woman," The Boston Globe, November 10, 1996

While the 1994 mid-term elections were coined the year of the “Angry White Men,” the term “Soccer Mom” was added to the political calendar of clichés during the 1996 presidential election between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole shortly after Susan Casey won a 1995 Colorado election with the slogan "A soccer mom for city council." Pollsters identified her phrase as a supposed swing vote that was a new and influential voting bloc. Paul McFedries at The Word Spy notes how this term’s sweep through the media is remarkable. "From its initial citation in 1982 through the end of 1989, soccer mom appeared six times in the media. Here are the annual numbers through 1996:
    1990 – 4
    1991 – 8
    1992 – 5
    1993 – 10
    1994 – 19
    1995 – 35
    1996 – 1,150
“That impressive spike," says McFedries, “ in 1996 was due to the incredible amount of ink devoted to the soccer mom demographic in the U.S. presidential election of that year.”

Kicked off the high heels put on your Keds and watch the kids.

Soccer moms of the ‘90s were the "Super moms" of the ‘80s. The new stay-at-home moms are no longer first and foremost traditional Christian proponents of the “natural motherhood” philosophy—the Soccer mom is unquestionably more mainstream. The principal difference between the Soccer mom and June Cleaver is that the Soccer mom always puts her kids first. This fresh fable of motherhood is “not about staying home to be helpmeet (sic) for your husband or devoting yourself to making your floors spick and span; it is about making sure your babies are the best they can be” While June Cleaver was a “housewife” or “homemaker,” the Soccer mom is a “full-time mother” with her housekeeping responsibilities noticeably absent. The Soccer mom has also plainly distinguished herself from working mothers snowed under with the Super Mom Syndrome by making her priorities quite clear: while the Super Mom fights to be a successful worker, mother, wife, and homemaker at the same time, the Soccer mom is incontrovertibly a mother first, with all other roles as secondary. In this fashion, the Soccer mom saga has provided a fairly clear ideal for mothers who previously endeavored in vain to meet the Super mom model. In fact, most women who have chosen to leave their careers to raise their children full-time very consciously view the Soccer mom lifestyle as an alternative to the more stressful life of the Super mom.

Soccer moms are not nearly as common as reported. Op ed pieces may tag the stay-home mother as the new “status symbol” of the 1990s, but in reality the Soccer mom is now professed as “lucky” to get to stay home with her children. With the stay-at-home Soccer mom as the existing maternal superlative, many full-time mothers remain as conflicted as working mothers. Often the feelings of Super Motherhood linger despite their option to “simplify” their lives by leaving their careers. Some full-time mothers go through a “mother crisis” when they feel as if they have failed to meet the “Good Mother” ideal. As disappointment mounts the let down lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

While there is no existing studies about the “Soccer Mom Syndrome,” many say it’s essential to note that “stay-at-home mothers have not been entirely immune from public critique. With the majority of mothers now working, full-time mothers are still in the elite minority and consequently, are often compelled to justify their choices. Indeed, many stay-at- home mothers are still asked the ubiquitous and rather insensitive question, “So, what do you do all day?” To counteract such criticisms, particularly from working mothers, full-time mothers have come up with a variety of responses and supports in the context of the Mommy Wars."...stay-at-home mothers, for instance, have organized local support groups… that have been gaining in popularity and membership...(W)hen FEMALE was founded in 1987, the acronym stood for “Formerly Employed Mothers at Loose Ends”; in 1991, the acronym was changed to Formerly Employed Mothers at the Leading Edge” ... This seemingly minor linguistic shift vividly shows how full-time mothers have become more confident in promoting their vision of motherhood.”

The mêlée between the Super mom and the Soccer mom is in the end, a battle among the privileged white, upper middle class mothers for whom working or not working is a “choice.” Nevertheless, borgo hits the nail on the head when he tells the E2Parentsgroup, " (I am a) "soccer dad" - actually practice starts this weekend - I have no problem with the term -it's what people attach to it. I'd rather be a so-called "soccer dad/mom" than be uninvolved.


Soccer Moms, Welfare Queens, Waitress Moms, and Super Moms:


The Word Spy:

Well I married me a wife,
she’s been trouble all my life.
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Rain and snow,
run me out in the cold rain and snow

I think my kid has been playing soccer now for about six or seven years. In all that time, I think I’ve missed maybe a handful of games. Mostly they were tournaments where the team had to travel and stay in hotels.

It’s not like I’m too cheap to spring for a couple of nights at the local Holiday Inn or anything. I think it’s that feeling I get that even though my ex-wife is remarried to a pretty nice guy, there’s still something inside of me that thinks it’s tawdry for the both of us to be staying under the same roof, no matter how big that roof is.

Combine that with the fact that some of the parents like to unwind at the hotel bar after the games and, well, let’s just say I’d rather not take a chance and run off at the mouth about the past. Whoever said it was better to let sleeping dogs lie had a point.

Well she’s coming down the stairs,
Combin’ back her yellow hair
And I ain’t gonna be treated this ol’ way

During all those years standing on the sidelines, I’ve seen almost every type of weather imaginable. I’ve been pelted by hail and drenched by rain. I’ve sought shelter during thunderstorms and felt the sweat drip off me in buckets during the middle of the summer. I’ve had the wind whip through me like I wasn’t there and felt the humidity make the air so thick I thought I could chew on it.

I’ve dried the tears after a loss and watered down many an ego after a victory. I’ve watched her blood being spilled after she caught a ball to the face and iced down many a sprain. I’ve worked countless hours doing drills with her that at my age I have no business doing.

At times, I’ve gotten up way too early and at others, stayed out way too late and all for what? To watch of bunch of prepubescent girls kick a ball around?

And ya know what, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Well she went up to her room
where she sang her fateful tune
Well I’m goin’ where
those chilly winds don’t blow

My ex and I usually attend all the games that are held locally. She brings her lawn chair and sometimes her knitting. She congregates with all the other soccer moms and talk about who knows what. I’m guessing it’s about school, recipes, family matters or politics. I don’t know for sure because those of us who are soccer dads aren’t allowed in that tight little circle. We usually assume our post at one end of the field and talk about the game itself or what the Buckeyes, the Tribe or the the Dawgs did last week. For some reason, teams from Cincinatti don't carry much weight here in Columbus. It’s a pretty safe conversation.

Oh well, small price to pay. I think some of the dads that are married are happy for the relief.

The way things are in the league, the parents are relegated to one side of the field and the coach and the team itself to the other. This way, the coach can do his or her job and not have to get an earful from some of the more vocal parents.

But we all know that there’s at least one in every crowd…

Last night, my kid's team found themselves under matched. That’ll sometimes happen when the kids are that young and let me tell ya, it ain’t pretty to watch. Nobody wants to see a blowout and I think we had gone up something like 7-0 midway through the second half when our coach pulled the kids aside and told them not to shoot anymore. They went into what they call their “two touch” drill and sorta played keep away from the other team for the rest of the game.

That didn’t stop one of the parents from the opposing team from screaming at the referee, blaming the kids for their lousy play and generally becoming a real pain in the ass. By the time the game was over, she and her husband's antics were such that they had about a twenty yard radius all to themselves.

There’s this theory that some folks have that animals can somehow sense earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters and that when they do they know when to head for safer ground.

Last night, I think I know how one of those animals felt. As every minute passed I found myself wandering further and further away from them. Something inside of me wanted to tell them to shut the hell up but I didn’t want to see myself as a subject for the news at 11:00 or on the cover of the local paper this morning.

I sure felt sorry for her kid though.

Last night was the first game of the season. Before it started, the coach named two captains for the entire year. This differed from the practice of other years when they rotated the captains on a game by game basis. I guess that those touchy feely everybody gets a trophy days are gone.

My kid was named one of the captains and she’s pretty proud of it.

In a way so was I but when you get right down to it, for all the crap that I mentioned earlier that I pretend to put with just to indulge her soccer jones, she’s the one doing the real work..

And she’s the one who deserves the credit.

Congrats little one, pops is proud of ya!

And always will be…

(Lyrics lifted from a traditional tune called “Cold Rain and Snow” but I got ‘em from the good ol’ Grateful Dead.)

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