Friday, January 31, 2014

My Very Own MVP

I grew up in a conservative household where my sisters and I were not allowed to play sports. You know - the whole shorts thing. Yes, I am old. Yes, I was raised in the south. Yes, it's called The Bible Belt. {And I have another story that could be titled that, but it's for another day.} My sisters and I rocked along in a world full of music and fashion and TV shows, because, frankly, sports were off limits. I like to conveniently use that to this day to explain my loathing of all things exercise and fitness related. ;-)

But, when I 3 years and 5 days old, the Lord finally answered my father's fervent prayers and delivered a boy to our family. And the world shook and long-held mandates for us 3 girls slowly and silently shifted to make way for the boy. Now, the boy had all kinds of different rules. I think of all the distinctions, the one that got my goat the most was the fact that he was excused from KP. Why bring him into the loop, after all, when there were three of us girls and the rotation from washer to rinser to dryer was completed by our triune sisterhood? 

Dishes aside, there was one more thing that really set me off. The boy could play sports. Because he could wear shorts. I remember one heated discussion with the prevailing parental unit and then I gave up. Buried my beloved dreams of volleyball and relegated myself to the band unit, long polyester pants and all. Now, mind you, before I worked myself up to the discussion, I had watched the boy play several seasons of football and basketball with the Y.M.C.A. Should I have known by the M that I didn't stand a chance?

Thankfully, junior high and high school offered me many different outlets and I busied myself with part-time jobs, school newspaper and yearbook, and getting all A's in my accounting classes. Lord, I loved completing those ledger green worksheets. And band. Yes, five years of band. Meanwhile, the boy played sports all through elementary, junior high and most of high school. I was okay with missing his games for my activities and might have been known to pick up a shift or two at Ronnie's Supermarket if it helped my silent gender-biased athletic boycott. I graduated and went on to college and promptly purchased store-bought shorts and never looked back at the volleyball court. 

With our own children, we offered them the opportunity to try everything. I mean anything and everything they had an interest in. Art lessons. Gymnastics. Boy Scouts. Soccer. T-ball. Baseball. Awanas. Choir. Football. Guitar lessons. Drum lessons. Lacrosse. More art. And, like the Renaissance men that they are, they tried all of it, and pursued none of it for very long. I learned to live in the season they were in. I learned to not push my desires into their hearts. I learned to encourage. I learned to guide their interests, but not direct their interests. And I learned to take pictures when I could, because there was no guarantee for the next semester, the next season, the next set.

I will confess, though, the utter elation - and yes, shock! - in my heart when, in the very same year, both boys tried out for football. My boys are 16 months apart, so they were only ever one grade away in school. And football happened their 7th/8th grade year. For one glorious short season, I had the joy of going to two football games a week and cheering for my sons. They both did fantastic, considering that they had never truly played before that season. We were never one of those families that got up a flag football game at Thanksgiving, even though I secretly always yearned to be.

My youngest son is truly an athlete. He is quick to grasp a new sport and has always quickly and easily done well in any sport. My oldest does well in sports, too, but his learning and adaptability curve is slightly longer. He makes up for it, though, with his heart and drive. I enjoyed watching them both learn football in their shared inaugural year, seeing how their skill sets and their personalities crafted them to become different players. And, I was not surprised when my youngest signed up to play football again in 8th grade. Imagine my giddiness over back-to-back seasons of being a football mom!

He enjoyed being part of a team. He was quick to listen to the coaches. He caught on to the plays. He was a determined little guy, set on tackling his opponent and getting his assigned point man on the other team. He truly had an authentic, all out hustle. I loved sitting in the stands. I could always easily spot both of my boys - this may sound silly - by their legs and shoes. There was just a look to this mom about their legs and shoes that made me easily recognize them on the field when helmets blurred and jersey numbers weren't visible.

I had two glorious years as a football mom. I took in all the games, sitting in the September heat and the October wind and the November chill. I bought the stadium popcorn. Steve picked us up stadium seats. I relegated a blanket to the cargo bay of my SUV for the unexpected - or expected -  chilly evenings. I cheered. I memorized the jersey numbers of friends' children. I supported the halftime programs and smiled at the cheerleader moms. I invited grandparents up to watch games. I bought a good zoom lens and took tons of photos. I was living large in the land of Friday night lights. I didn't mind at all that my football mom games were on Tuesdays or Thursdays. I was just happy to have a real reason to sit in the stands.

And what a thrill to watch my boy go in play after play for two seasons and do his best. His team wasn't a winning team either year - not in 7th, or in 8th. He wasn't on the A team either. No matter. We held our B team chins up proudly and enjoyed the equality of the B team. No child prodigies out there to steal the show. They were all in it to win it. 

I still remember that little number 55, standing on the sidelines as close to coach as he could get, ready to go in when called. And no matter what the scoreboard said, he was always a winner to me. And I was happy with the secret in my heart that he was my very own MVP.

Authentic All Out Hustle ~ Andrew 8th Grade Football ~ Fall 2009

Paper: We R Memory Keepers


  1. Your story makes me smile and remember the journey we go on with our children and their interests and disinterests. Love the page and the choice of papers!

  2. Beautiful layout and love the story !

  3. I was a football Mom for 13 years. Both of my boys played and I was at every single game. I love you layout and your story. So beautifully written.