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Covering my eyes won't make it stop.

3 year olds attempting soccer = absolute amusement.

Putting 12-15 toddlers in an a vast, grassy field, providing them with a ball they get to kick, explaining the ball needs to find a home in a teeny, tiny net (easily mistaken for the scaffolding of a fort to climb into) is nonsensical. But as the parent of 2 soccer players, I spent many Saturdays at the Y, laughing and cheering my toddlers on to victory in a game we were instructed not to keep score. Made no sense other than providing us adults an escape from reality.

But Nate was different. Instead of fighting to get his turn kicking the ball with the rest of the mob, he spent most of the game wandering aimlessly and appearing to explore the idea of seeing the game through his shirt, which was wrapped around his face. While most of the kids were screaming and trying to get feet on the ball, Nate claimed his place in the empty part of the field. I would have done anything to climb inside that little brain to know what he was thinking and pretending.

After his first soccer season, I decided soccer was not his game, and pulled him from playing... at least until he was 8. His older brother, Alex, continued playing and displayed a much clearer focus on the field. At 8, I let Nate try out for a club team with Alex. I told the coaches, who evaluated the skills of possible players, that either both boys made it or neither made it. I couldn't get them to practices if they didn't participate in the same activity.

They both made teams and thus started a legacy I never dreamed Nate would be a part of. He stepped in as a goalie on his first team, simply because the team needed a goalie. The empty space of the goal, became his space. He was fearless, even at 8.

Now, a graduating high school senior, Nate has been one of the lead goalies in our division, been recognized with awards, and has clearly found his home on the soccer field. He remains unmovable when someone charges at him. He remains solid when players crush him during corner kicks. He remains calm during nail biting penalty kicks. He does not wrap his shirt around his face.

Conversely, I'd like to wrap his shirt around my face and pretend I was back on that field when he was 3. Closing the door to his youth has been hard. He's weathered some emotionally challenging years. One of the most painful memories I have with him was the night his father and I shared we were separating. Nate wailed with grief and in that moment, my heart shattered with guilt. I caused my sweet son raw trauma.

That trauma did not break him. He learned empathy for other friends going through divorce, and he got in to a few colleges with his honest essay exploring the impact our divorce had in his life. He knows how to use real life experiences to brace himself for the upcoming unknown.

  • Remorse bubbles around in my gut. I wish I could have given him the perfect childhood he deserved.

  • Joy quivers in my heart. I'm so stinkin' proud of how hard he's worked.

  • Gratitude blankets my soul. I don't deserve the time God gave me with Nate, but I'm eternally thankful for every minute.

He dreamed about his future. And then he owned it.

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