Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown's five sons play around with a soccer ball.

The year was 2008 and our oldest son, Anderson, had just turned 4 years old making him old enough to sign up for recreational soccer. Little did we know that this small act on the part of new parents would start a tradition that would deem the Browns a “soccer family,” particularly as it pertained to our boys.

Following the example of Anderson, our second son, Ace, began kicking the ball around and expressing a desire to play like his older brother, followed by our next son, Aussie. For the past nine years, our lifestyle has consisted of watching boys play soccer on a weekly and even daily basis on each of their respective club teams.

And as I look at our younger two boys and the way they kick around the ball, I am confident that our years of sitting behind white, painted side lines are only going to be extended.

Recently, however, one of my sons has expressed a desire to quit or at least take a break from our “family” sport. He is every bit as athletic as his brothers but has not mastered the skills as quickly. He has also found that other sports and extracurricular activities like being in the school play are more intriguing.

Unfortunately, when he has mentioned this to his brothers he has been met with pressure to continue in the family sport.

“You can’t quit because our family is a soccer family,” I’ve heard them say. “You’re going to lose all your skills, and you won’t be able to play soccer with us in the backyard,” is another phrase that’s been uttered.

There was even a comment made by an adult when my son told him he might not try out this year. “A Brown not playing soccer? That’s blasphemy!”

While I know the comments from his brothers and the adult were not meant to be hurtful, they have caused my son to feel out of place. Since making his decision, he has wondered if he will fit in our family. He has gone through a spell of depression at the prospect of not being able to spend time with his brothers playing soccer in the backyard and has even begun to withdraw from these activities because he's felt out of place.

As his mother, it has been hard to see this happen as I, too, have wondered what the future will hold for him as he ventures out on his own. Because more than supporting my kids at their respective games, it has brought me so much joy to see them play together in the backyard. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I even smile when my front room turns into an indoor soccer field during the colder months.

Even with this underlying fear, I’m excited for my son to experience new things and pave the way for new endeavors that his older and younger siblings might want to embark on.

I look forward to new activities that will occupy the Brown family schedule, along with different sidelines and auditoriums that we will fill up with our overwhelming presence. And while the immediate result of my son’s decision might have a small strain on his relationship with his brothers, I foresee deeper relationships to develop without the soccer mask to hide behind.

More than that, I can’t wait for our family to shed the title as “soccer family,” because we are so much more than that.

We are a family.

Arianne Brown is a mother of seven young children who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at ariannebrown1@gmail.com. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write.