My son is 11. This is his first year of real, live 11 man, hit'em high, hit'em low football. I know he is ready for the challenge, but am I?
I realized I was during the car pool last Friday, after going through my personal checklist. It was an epiphany moment: Yes, I was indeed becoming a football mom.
- My favorite Manning, Check! I've got one, but it isn't who you might think. The boys are in their usual discussion: Peyton or Eli. It is a 2-2 tie so I'm the deciding vote. I calmly state, "Their mother." I could see their eyes roll! It's true. Olivia Manning is a fabulous woman. How she raised three great sons, two of whom are outstanding NFL quarterbacks, is the stuff of legend. I will channel through her. The rest of my list is new to me, but routine to the likes of the great one - Olivia Manning!
- Meet and greet. During the first few days of practice, everyone is sizing up the team, coaches and moms! I have my own copy of the laminated play book, which I review with my son nightly, along with with his spelling words.
- Doctor, doctor, give me the news. I am thrilled that one of our assistant coaches is a doctor. I did a little bit of research and discovered that he is an outstanding internist! Comforting to know, as I stand on the sidelines. Luckily enough, I already call friends two orthopedic surgeons, one who specializes in knees and hips; the other is a shoulder and elbow guy! Now I am exploring other friendships to find a neurosurgeon. Olivia is telling me it is not if but WHEN (not a very comforting thought)!
- Splendor in the grass. Football players and their moms don't get points for grass stain-free pants. In fact, the dirtier the better! One kid has pristine pants from LAST season. I automatically make an assumption about his playing ability and am thrilled he does not play at the same time as my son. Hopefully Olivia, would behave better! She is Southern!
After the first few practices we all settled in to the new routine. My car is now a rolling triage/locker room, I do not scream when "the cup" is put in the washing machine with other stinky laundry. I have only thought about a whistle as a viable accessory to an outfit ONCE, and I am leaning the vocabulary from our laminated play book! I use J-U-K-E on Words with Friends, and know Blood Alley is not a bad garbage pick up day. Watch out Mrs Manning! I'm gaining ground.
What makes football moms different?
- Look ma, no teeth! My son had several loose teeth over the summer, perfectly normal for a boy who just turned eleven. He lost 2 teeth in the first two practices. I do not think about it. He lost THREE more in the first 5 days. I investigate and find three more wigglers on the left side of his mouth. I ask him if he could play on the other side of the line to get rid of the last three stragglers! Would Olivia see it the same way? Instead of a quarter under his pillow, the 21st century tooth fairy delivered a GROUPON deal for dental work!
- Spaghetti-oh! - With the loss of 5 teeth and three more on their way to the same fate, my son's mouth guard does not fit as well. Here is a great time management solution that I am more than happy to share. I planned spaghetti for dinner. Easy to chew with 5 missing teeth and, yes, I boiled the new mouth guard first, removed it and then stirred in my pasta for dinner! I feel Olivia nodding with a knowing smile.
- Game Day Strategy. As a football mom, I now divide up the school/work days into quarters.
- First quarter: 6.a.m. to noon. Sets tone for the day. On the offense.
- Second quarter: Noon to 6. Busy. Lots of blitzes and bombs.
- Half time: dinner
- Third quarter: 6 p.m. to midnight Must win the game in the 3rd. All about defense.
- Fourth quarter: Midnight to 6 a.m. If we are still "playing", something has gone drastically wrong with the play book or the opposing team was just tougher than we thought( i.e. projects, forgotten homework)
- Jersey Girl. Today, I realize I put my own shirt on like a football jersey - right arm, left arm, and head! If it were 1985 again, I would have my own shoulder pads! I'm sure all the Mannings do this, too. I'm feeling like a pro!
Countdown to the season
Two days until the first game of the season. My son is ready. I am almost there.
On game day, I hope to have the same quiet, calm, winning resolve of my favorite Manning: Olivia! To think she has to do it TWICE in a day! She is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame - NFL and MOM!
Gretchen Rose is a wife and mom of a teen and tween in Dallas, Texas. She and her husband are owners of KidzMat, the premier organizational equipment for all youth sports teams.
Posted September 18, 2011