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Friday, September 13, 2013

From the Top of the Crew Mom Heap to the Bottom of the Football Mom Pile: Notes from a Rookie Football Mom

NOTES FROM A ROOKIE FOOTBALL MOM - Just when I became a really seasoned crew mom, just when I stopped being known as "Christian's Mom" or "Michael's Mom" and became known simply as "Team Mom," I have been thrust into a new world. The world of football. My child is 13 and has never played a contact sport before. That means I have never seen him make purposeful contact with another child. Ever. So perhaps the biggest milestone for me as a Football Mom was surviving That Sound.

Football moms know what I'm talking about. Probably Hockey Moms and others. That Sound occurs the first time you hear your child getting hit. It is accompanied by your child actually getting hit, and either hitting back, getting knocked down, or ending up on the bottom of "The Pile." The shock to a mother's system, in hearing That Sound, is actually indescribable. The flood of emotions, and the willpower it takes to overrride the Mothering Reflex. Just as when your baby cries in his crib, you have an uncontrollable reflex that causes you to reach into the crib for your baby, similarly,when you hear That Sound, a mother has a reflexive desire to run onto the field, scoop up her child, and say, "OK, you win, I'll buy you whatever you want, just stop playing this barbaric game before you get hurt!" You want to say to that big kid on the other team, "get your big Shrek hands off my child!" But of course, for the first time in a long series of times, you must turn off the Mother Reflex. Yes, they're wearing helmets and pads and they're trained (or in my son's case, learning) to "hit" and "take a hit." But that first hit, whether your kid is in Mighty Mights or is a teenager, is actually sickening.

Don't get me wrong, he was fine. Me, not so much. I handled it the way I handle all stress. I either cook, throw a large party, or take pictures. Since the first two options were somewhat unrealistic, I simply turned to the sports shutter on my camera and started shooting. I took over 4,000 photos of Christian's first Scrimmage. Another football parent nudged me gamely and said, "Wow, did you get that touchdown?" I stared blankly. "What touchdown?" Now it was his turn to stare at me blankly. I had 4,000 pictures of Christian and, as a Defensive End, he generally was not where the touchdown was occurring. He also plays Tight End so, on those occasions, it's possible I may have a photo of the touchdown. But to be honest, unless he made the touchdown, I probably took the picture by accident. But I will make it to all of the games and cheer when my husband cheers, since he's watching the WHOLE game and not just our son. You guys know me. If my kid's in, then I am all in. Whether Christian plays for one season and moves on, or plays for several seasons, I will be there, with my camera. Maybe I will even move up the ranks to Concession Stand, or my specialty, 50/50 sales. He will go back to rowing when football as over. But in the meantime, he is thoroughly loving this game and this league. I do not exactly know or understand why. But it's not my job to understand, it's my job to support him. As long as he as he loves it, Anthony and I will take him to practices and games. And I alone will participate in the unholy nightly ritual known as washing the football uniform. This makes Little Michael's rowing clothes, soaked with stinky Hudson River water, actually smell like a rose garden.

Last week, there was a thunder delay during the game, played at the NFA Field. When play resumed, it was pouring rain, the cheerleaders had called it quits, and most parents, wisely, were sitting under shelter somewhere, watching the game. My son told me he knew, before he looked up, that I would be the only one, sitting there in the bleachers in the pouring rain. Sure enough, there I was sitting dead center in the bleachers in the rain with my Newburgh Rowing Club rain hood up. Hey, I told him, I'm a crew mom, at least 20% of my wardrobe is rain gear, from muckers to ponchos. I've spent 8 hours in cold, driving rain, just to get a glimpse of your boat for one minute. "I know Mom," he said, "I just knew I would look up and you'd be there in the rain. Like, I had not doubts at all." He's too young to articulate it, but he knows that being able to look up and see your parents every time, whether it's from the football field, your crew shell, or the school stage, is a blessing. And that was thanks enough for me. Have a great day, everyone, and remember to count your blessings!  Mrs. Lo
 — with Juliana Muyot andGoldbacks Yfl.