Football and Parenting.
Parenting is the single hardest most thankless job on earth. There are days when you feel like you’re winning, on some microscopic level. And God bless the days, few and far between, when you feel like you are really nailing it. I don’t know about you, so I’ll only speak for me here, but the majority of the days I feel like I’m barley keeping my head above water. I feel like I’m three steps behind, always running ragged poking and prodding, scurrying, and scolding, grabbing more things then my arms were ever intended to carry. Cleaning up more then seems humanly possible. Doing more loads of wash then seems conceivable with the amount of clothes we have, and constantly feeding or buying food.
There’s always something major I’m pushing off the front burner onto an invisible back one. The list of things to do, stopped being written down years ago because when I see it I instantly want to cry. Just looking at it overwhelms me. There’s always someone who needs a dentist visit, or to sign up for a sport or help with their homework. Or a car that need’s fixing, or a dog that needs fixing. And no matter what I accomplish off that list it never seems to get smaller. There is never any satisfaction when the items finally get crossed off either. Only guilt because it took so long, or because the items that kept getting pushed off, got urgent at the wrong time.
When you’re a single parent there is no one to blame but you. No one to bitch at for not pulling their weight. No one to thank for giving you a break on a day when you were at your breaking point. No one to appreciate the work you put in, or say that the outcomes are showing promise. Or that you don’t totally suck. No one.
And the worst part is that when the absent parent does a tiny gesture, to show that they remotely care, the child sees them as a god. And you can’t help but think, even though you shouldn’t, that there is no justice in this world. That all you’ve done all a long, goes unappreciated and unnoticed. That their one minimal gesture outshines all the days and nights you were there, putting in the work and the love, when they were no where to be found. It feels like a knife in your heart. Even though it shouldn’t, it just does. But you close your mouth, and you smile, and you show enthusiasm, because that is your job.
Today my son dressed in his first ever football uniform, ready for practice. He looked so handsome. His jersey is purple and black just like the Raven’s, and I told him so. And for the first time ever, he looked at me and said, “what if I don’t like them any more? What if I like my dad’s team?” And what came out of my mouth was “you can like any team you want, son.”
But what fumed in my head was…
When your dad left, so did the opportunity for you to go in the backyard and play catch. Or learn how to throw a football. And so when we lived in a 700 square foot apartment I went out and got you a football, and even though I didn’t really like or know anything about it, I picked up the ball and threw it to you every night.
And before long you were running down the hall, and into the kitchen to catch passes. Diving on the carpet to grab the ball before it went through the window. We’d have a football game on, and we’d watch it together. You were just six years old, but we’d study the plays and try to act them out. And then we went to Oregon games together, and I showed you LIVE how those players where running the plays we watched on TV. And we’d look for positions we recognized and memorized the players names, and then we’d go home and practice, every night. And when one of those Oregon players became a Raven we started watching the NFL and Raven games. And we perfected our passes, and practiced jumping and diving catches, and blocks and screens.
And when we moved to a bigger house, our game took over the whole place. And your arm got so good, and you could catch anything I threw to you. And always, the Raven game was on. On the radio or on TV. And you knew all the players names and all their positions.
And then one day the unthinkable happened and we got to go to a Raven’s home game 3,000 miles away. But that’s not all, you got your biggest wish, you met the players, toured the locker room and stood on the sidelines… every little boys dream.
And then we moved to an even bigger house, one with a yard. And when the rain stopped we’d play outside. You are bigger now so you can run and catch those long spiral’s, and you can even throw ones I can’t catch anymore. But if it poured rain outside, we’d still play in the house until we were both worn out and short of breath. And the girls would try to play, try to steel the ball from you. And the Raven’s game would be on. And then our team did the impossible, they went to the Super Bowl. And you sat on the couch next to me in all your Raven’s gear, and we eat chicken wings while the girls played Barbies upstairs.
And today, you put on your pads and uniform for the first time in your life, and you looked like a real football player. A real grown little man, and you were in our teams colors. And it took three weeks of me pleading with the coaches to get you added to their already full team after we moved, and extra budgeting financially, paying bills late to make sure I could cover the registration fee. And all the stress of figuring out how I’d juggle the huge time commitment of games and practice… but we did it. You are a real football player, after all these years. And you look just like a Raven, my son. It’s the start of your real life football career the day you’ve been waiting for.
I wanted to scream…...so how in the world could you say that none of that mattered?
That’s what I really wanted to say. But he’s ten years old, and I don’t have that right. And logically I know it’s probably not what he meant. I know all the logical things that we know as parents. But it doesn’t take the sting out of moments like today. It doesn’t prevent you from feeling like you just totally failed as a parent. And it doesn’t stop that instant burn behind your eyes and in your throat, or the urge to wish you could explain.
But you put a smile on, pat them on the back and say; Honey you’re a big boy, you can cheer for any team you like. I’ll be right over there watching you practice, and your snacks will be waiting. And that’s what mommies do.
|our first Oregon football game Sept 2009|
|Oregon game 2010|
|Raven’s field pre-game 2011|
|Watchin the Super Bowl together 2013|
|Wearing his first ever team jersey, ready for practice. 2013|