Not a soccer mom










Given the choice between supervising organized sports or running through the woods dressed as medieval misfits and warriors, my choice is pretty easy. I'd take this option any day.

Indeed, as a twenty year old I participated in a few LARP (live action role play) events, (and not because my kid needed a ride), putting on my own armor, cape, and shield. But this time, at just days shy of 44, I felt a little out of my element. Sage had a two-day LARP that he wanted to attend, and rather than catch a ride with another family he really wanted me to come along. We could bring the camper, then sleep out after each event.

I suggested to Pete that he could go instead, but with a broken arm, sleeping in the camper would be more difficult than managing farm chores without Sage and I. (sigh.)

And so I decided to go. I would stay in the camper and work on lesson plans and recipes for the upcoming summer camp while Sage and the others played. And also I would knit. And drink copious, unreasonable amounts of tea.

It sounded dreamy, actually. Two six-hour days of me-time? Yes, please.

Sage tried to convince me to LARP, too, but I made some excuses and told him that I might join in at the next event. 






But then, standing on the edge of the field, surrounded by LARPers of all ages, one of the organizers looked at me (with piercing transparent purplish-blue contact lensed eyes), and pointedly asked, "So are you playing?" 


I stumbled about for excuses of about the work I needed to do and she replied with a blank purply-eyed stare. 

"And… that was the lamest excuse ever," I admitted.

She silently nodded. 


The next thing I knew I was draped in a gold tabard (game code: invisible non-character) and invited in to lurk on the sidelines and photograph the two day event, despite having only blue jeans and a t-shirt to wear underneath.

As long as I stayed out of the way.


I silently tucked my knitting back into my project bag and put my lesson plans away.

Game on.








The truth is, Sage is growing up fast.

His world and mine are slowly moving apart from one another, as they are meant to do.

But he asked me to play. Not just the purple-eyed lady. My teenager. And it isn't often that he asks me to play anymore. How long until he stops for good?

These days are more fleeing than ever, it seems.

And just as I was when he was small and wanted me to play trains or trucks or play kitchen, I'm a little out of my element. I'm fumbling along, faking my way through.

But so what? Isn't that the very essence of parenting? Two parts love and one part faking it. We step out of our comfort zone and into in a world of our child's making, ever surprised by the bits of ourselves we discover along the way.
















Another Viroqua mom was there, supervising her son who was too young to participate without a guardian. I'm pretty sure she didn't know she'd be playing when she arrived. Not gold tabard photography and lurking, but a full costume and weapons and the rest.

"Rachel, can you hold my shield for a minute?"

She was wrangling her weaponry as we headed into the woods. I took her foam shield, then teased, "You've never asked me that before."

"Yeah," she replied. "It's a whole new level of our friendship!" 

We laughed and discussed how LARPing is a whole new level of motherhood as well. I think as parents we step up expecting music lessons or organized sports, dance class or martial arts. But not this. Not swords and chainmail and role play.

But as parents we go with the flow. We help our kids find what they love; then we stand on the sidelines (or beside them at the battering ram, as the case may be) and wildly cheer them on. 







And I realized in that moment how amazing it is for these kids – and these adults – to find this niche were they truly belong. To find a place to express this creative, all-in imaginative part of themselves that for many is stifled in their day to day life. 

It was surprisingly inspiring to watch.

Isn't that what we all desire? To find that place that thing that makes us come alive? And yeah, it might be soccer. But for many of us (or I'd wager most of us) it isn't. 


And that was how it happened that I rolled into my 44th birthday wishing I had more period appropriate clothing to wear under my tabard, and plotting and planning what I would bring to the next event. 

Parenting is strange business, my friends. It changes us in ways we never, ever imagined.

And for that I am consistently grateful.



Oh, and one more thing – does anyone have any pointy ears I can borrow for a couple of days in May? 

I might just need them.



You can read about Last Hope LARP here.


19 thoughts on “Not a soccer mom

  1. Dulcie says:

    Very fun. My boys are 13 and 17. Both have enjoyed a lot of role playing and little dabbles in LARPing. The older one is graduating and looking forward to moving on (as it should be). The little one still lives strong in his imagination. Thank you for the reminder to take advantage of the time they want us to share with them. It is so fleeting.

  2. Laura says:

    My daughter, now 16, has found her “people” in folks who love cosplay & go to various conventions. It’s awesome to find a place she feels at homs. Fills me with joy thinking about it.

  3. Kim says:

    Cool pics! Thanks for sharing, my kids would LOVE this (including my soccer playing younger one- since life can be both, not either or). My oldest got a metal sword with a rabbit skin scabbard for her birthday one year. And she made her siblings cloaks. In fact she wants to start a cloak making business. I will definitely have to look into this.

    Have a great day- so glad you decided to play too.

  4. Rachel Wolf says:

    So lovely. And yes! It can be both. This weekend came on the heels of a thrilling kickball match with our homeschool coop. Which was, quite possibly, enjoyed as much as the LARP!

  5. Ryan Jopp says:

    Thank you so much for coming out and giving Last Hope LARP a try! I am always a big advocate of families getting involved in hobbies. Your photos and your article were both awesome. 🙂

  6. Shell ~ says:

    ~ This is way COOL to read about!!!
    LoVed it all Rachel, the writing, the fantastic photos, most especially I like the black & white photos.
    I’m 57 & I don’t mind saying, I really know zero about LARP, but I’m interested to know, …are there ever animal characters involved? I’d loVe to be an animal, … like a Faun, or some Animal-Fairy being, …like half Elk/half Fairy? half Rabbit/half Fairy? Maybe half Cat/half human? A Unicorn?
    Imagine the creative artsy costuming of that!! I want to be a Cottontail Fairy or a Moth Human.
    Thanks for The Play Inspirations.
    Sage’s clothing is * stellar * !! I’m sure he created it all himself.
    Shell ~

  7. Paul Peterson says:

    Rachel, thank you for coming out, that was a great read, and I’m glad you and the other mother enjoyed yourselves at out game. You are definitely welcome any time. This is something my wife and I do together, and I hope one day we have children and they think it’s as cool as you son does.

  8. Lisa Mork says:

    Amazing article, amazing pictures! My two boys (5 and 8)are growing up with LARP as my husband helps run this, and it’s great (as well as reassuring) to hear your perspective. I know your wise words and insight will stay with me. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Shell. My understanding is that there are different types of LARPs. This one is ‘low fantasy’ but there are ‘high fantasty’ larps as well. You’d just need to find one that worked for you!

  10. iilene says:

    Why all the references about soccer moms and organized sports? In all due respect, what does that mean anyway? We are a single income family and live out in the country. We play in the creek and catch frogs and make fairy houses….Soccer is an organized sport here and relatively free. I know you didn’t mean to come across as being judgmental. I am happy for you and your son that you had a great weekend. So did our sweet little family at the soccer field.

  11. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi iilene,
    Im sorry that my comment was offensive to you. It certainly wasnt intended to be. My point was that raising kids I always expected that the sports I would supervise would be softball, soccer, or basket ball – nothing in the fantasy relm. I played and loved organized sports as a kid, and never saw myself doing this LAPR sort of referee work. And I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. 

    We all dont fit in the same mold. Things that are a little off-the-map like this fill a much needed void for kids (like my son) who just cant make organized sports be a match. Again, sorry my choice of words were offensive to you.

    All the best,

    Rachel Wolf
    Owner and Founder, LuSa Organics
    blogging at
    We donate 10% of profits to organizations generating positive global change

  12. Joy says:

    Love it! My oldest is only 9 but both my husband and I still Larp so we are really looking forward to sharing more of our hobbies.

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