A Mother’s Springtime Prayer

It’s the era of three-sport seasons, tournaments that take up entire weekends, late night games on school nights.

So, we check the weather.

It’s Spring with its unpredictable weather. Snow flurries on cherry blossoms. Cold breezes that chill the air over open fields as soon as the sun sets.

So, we check the weather. Again.

It’s racing across town to pick up one child at soccer. Did you finish your homework?! Another at lacrosse. You volunteered enchiladas for your Spanish fiesta?!

It’s Chick-fil-A in the car before the next event. Then, one last time, we check the weather…

…and pray for rain…

… or a flash of lightening guaranteed to keep us home.

A Baseball Free Agent

Some of my favorite baseball movies have characters with funny superstitions and odd things they do for good luck before a big game. Major League. Bull Durham.

My nine year old wants to play baseball, but doesn’t have a team. As a free agent, he therefore had to participate in a two-hour try-out so that all the coaches could see his skill level and then spread the free agents out across the league in a way that makes the teams fair.

That morning when I walked into his room, he was wearing a pair of camouflage underwear that is way too small.

“I think it’s time to throw those away.”

He looked aghast, “But they’re my lucky underwear. I have to wear them to tryouts.”

When he came downstairs ready to go, he smiled, pointing to the different parts of his wardrobe. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky. He was decked out in his lucky Kansas City Chiefs socks, his lucky necklace that he made in art class, his lucky baseball cap, and of course, his lucky underwear.

And then he went out and had a really fun time playing ball. “I maybe could have played better,” he said at the end of the day, “but it was good enough for me.”

He may not make it into the Majors, but he would be a much-loved character in a baseball movie.

For the Love of the Game

Our two middle school sons play flag football on the same rec league team, and as I watched their first game under the Tuesday night lights, I realized that later, it would sound like they had played on completely different fields. One would strut to the car as if they had won (they did not), and the other would approach, head bowed, teeth clenched.

For the first, it has never mattered if his team wins or loses (unless he’e watching the Packers on tv). If he makes one good catch, it’s a victory. Last night he made two, including a one-handed, over-the-head grab. You should have seen his grin. He’s an “I’m just happy to be here” kind of player. A big guy, coaches play him at center, which means he is involved in every play. But he’s almost as happy standing on the sidelines talking about the game with his coach.

His younger brother has the body of a sports statistician but the mind and competitive will of a quarterback. When he is not leading the charge, he feels ignored. When he is, the opposing team looks larger than life. But he runs smart plays that give his team an edge, and he knows it.

The Blue Jays’ chosen quarterback threw him one pass, which he caught for a two-point conversion. As he held onto the ball in the end zone, I felt that “phew” moment moms feel when we think we know our athletes will be pleased that they played their play well.

I should know him better than that.

As the game wore on, and he was left out of one play after another, I could see the frustration build in those piercing blue eyes all the way from the sidelines. It’s not “I’m just happy to be here” or even “put me in, coach.” It’s “give me the ball,” “let me lead the team.” Even if they had made it to the rec league Super Bowl last night, he would have seen the game as a defeat.

Two boys who love football. Same team. Different game.

 

 

Sports Memories

My Packers fan asked me the other day what football games I remember besides last year’s Bronco Super Bowl win. That doesn’t count, he said, because you were there. I realized that very few of my sports memories are actual plays, and I do not have a single stat in my brain.

But I remember…

…the first time my parents let me stay up late to watch a big game. The Bullets won the Championships. And as they celebrated, Queen’s “We are the Champions” played, and I was so happy and moved by the emotion of the win and the song that I cried.

…making a touchdown on the 7th grade camping trip.

…screaming until my voice gave out every time my sister swam in a race.

…feeling my heart break for Georgetown’s Fred Brown when he passed the ball to UNC’s James Worthy in a mistake that allowed Carolina to win the 1982 championship game.

…accidently smacking an opponent in the face with my lacrosse stick as I turned around to say something to our goalie when the ball was at the other end of the field.

…decorating the inside of my locker with newspaper clippings of John Riggins, Dexter Manley, Art Monk, and Darrell Green, and getting to miss school to go to the Super Bowl parade when the Redskins won.

…watching as one of the New York guys in my sophomore dorm ran through the halls banging on doors to celebrate the Mets’ World Series win in 1986.

…my husband doing the most funny Village People YMCA you’ve ever seen at a baseball game, so funny I do not even remember what game or which team. But I can still see his grin.

…being at the 2007 World Series cheering for the Rockies with my two week old son.

Since that day, my sports memories mostly come from watching my kids watch games. So I will remember my passionate Packers fan donning one of his brother’s many Falcons jerseys for the Super Bowl game last night, but showing me his Packers jersey and his loyalty underneath.

I have already forgotten the plays in the playoff game two weeks ago when the Falcons beat the Packers, but I will remember the boys’ “truce” for the game and their surprising sportsmanship throughout.

And now, the only thing I will remember about Super Bowl 51 is my Falcons fan lying on his bedroom floor crying, “Why? Why? Why?”

The Courage to be a Fan

Everywhere we went last week, people asked my son if he was excited about the game. On the street, on the ski slopes, in the reception area at school, and everywhere he wears his Packers sweatshirt (which is everywhere), strangers called out to him, “Go Packs!”

Then today, he sat next to his brother, an avid Falcons fan, and watched his team get crushed in the playoffs.

He was quiet, but he let his brother celebrate. And I realized, watching him be a good sport, what courage it takes to be a fan. As a fan, he has worn his heart on his sleeve. He has made himself vulnerable to loss. He has shouted out to the world, “I stand with them!”

Now, he must steel himself for school. The pats on the back. The “sorry, dude.” Or “nice sweatshirt.” Or “what in the world happened to your team?”

But if he had not had the courage to be a fan, then he would not have felt the joy of this season’s victories. The thrill of Aaron Rodger’s Hail Mary passes, the wonderful feeling that people know you and what you care about. And the respect you have earned because you are willing to show that you care, to cheer big wins, mourn today’s loss, and wait patiently, optimistically for next year.

Historic World Series

Soccer practice was over. Homework was done. The dinner dishes were clean. So we all headed upstairs to get ready for bed, do the third grader’s out-loud reading, and watch the end of the 7th game of the World Series.

Indians versus Cubs. Two teams you want to cheer for because success must be sweeter for an almost-forever underdog. We are Rockies fans, so we know. And while we decided that 1948 and more than a century feel equally bad, we went for the longest-time loser.

And our former outfielder – a Rocky turned Cubby – started the game with an historic walk-on homerun.

But the second I closed my third grader’s The Worst Class Trip Ever, I crashed into a deep sleep. So did my husband and the third grader, while the older boys watched and cheered around us. It has been a very busy few weeks.

Then suddenly… “Cubbies won! Cubbies won!” Boys jumping on the bed. Hi-fiving. Our dog, disturbed from slumber, barking. Three once sleeping bodies trampled on. “Go Cubs!”

An exciting Series for two teams who have wanted it for so long. Sadly, mom, dad and the third grader missed its thrilling end. Sometimes, no matter how much you want to see the ninth inning or the tenth – history in the making – your typically insignificant eyelids wield their power. And you sleep.

Mom v Boy Mini Golf

I won the first game. Putted for under par, but the second game was going badly. My third grader got a hole in one on the first green, then I was a disaster on the second. By the third he was ahead by five.

“Mom, you just need to relax. That’s what I do. Then you’ll stop playing so badly.”

By the fifth hole, he was feeling really good.

“Mini golf. Miniature golf. Putt-putt. Why isn’t it a professional sport? It’s not fair to people who are really good at it. I would totally be a professional putt-putter!”

Remember, he lost the first game against his mom.