It is a Sunday during the winter in my house which means just one thing – football. Back before my kids were born, Sundays were sometimes a day that I spent with my husband watching football or, sometimes, if he was trying to score some points with me, we’d actually get out of the house doing something together. But, for the vast majority of the past two decades, Sundays in the fall and winter have been focused primarily around football. We start early in the morning with all the pre-game shows. The backdrop of breakfast is often one commentator or another pontificating on the outcomes of the umpteen games taking place that afternoon and evening. Lunch is typically consumed in front of the enormous TV in our living room that serves as an homage to football and dinner is always served with the game on in the kitchen.
When my kids were younger, they did not care about football or any sports on TV for that matter, so I would typically entertain them on Sundays with either some indoor activity at home or a playdate with other little kids. As they have gotten older, my older son has become as sports-obsessed as his father while my younger is less interested but will happily park himself on the couch with a handheld video game to partake in the testosterone fest. The best visual would be three guys, adorned in various team jerseys or t-shirts strewn out on my very lovely Crate & Barrel sofa yelling and screaming while ingesting massive quantities of junk food. It’s a tradition that apparently is handed down across the generations.
Being the only individual in my house in possession of ovaries and a uterus, I tend to try to find something to entertain myself during the fall and winter months while the pilgrimage in front of the TV takes place. I know there are plenty of women who love to watch the games alongside their men (many of my friends included) but I am not one of them. Even though I can get excited by the Super Bowl or a high-pressure playoff game, I really would rather do anything else but spend my entire Sunday channel surfing between games and watching NFL Red Zone on Fios. I typically use that time to finish up projects, catch up with friends, shop or snuggle under the blankets in my bedroom and watch a movie. It is definitely Tammy time.
I remember thinking, when my children were babies, that a time would come where my Sundays would be just like this. It would be my day to escape the house and do whatever I wanted. I would be free to enjoy estrogen-filled activities without any guilt of sticking my husband with the kids. But, as with many things that look a lot rosier from a distance, now that I am living in the reality of being the outcast in my football house, I am not sure I like it all that much. It only reinforces my apprehensions about being the only female in the family. It reminds me that my entire little family speaks a freakishly different language than I do. It underscores my disconnect with all the males in my house who seem to relish over fart jokes and other potty humor. It illustrates the imbalance of power that exists in my little empire.
When I was pregnant with both of my sons, I dreamed about having a girl. The first time around, I just assumed a girl was what I wanted. A sweet little baby girl who would be like a doll to me. I would buy her beautiful clothes and braid her hair and we would have tea parties and go for mani/pedis. Everything would be perfect. And, then the penis showed up on the sonogram. I quickly adjusted to the idea of a boy and was actually quite excited. I knew my husband would be thrilled to have a son as girls scared him to death. I also got real about the downside of girls and luxuriated in the idea that I had escaped (at least with this kid) all the angst and teen drama that was bundled with the special edition baby called a girl. I knew I had a huge learning curve but I was up for the task and looked forward to the idea of matchbox cars and legos (things that I had always enjoyed as a kid). Plus, I always got along well with guys so I would probably have a great relationship with a son. I quickly rationalized away any sadness that I might have had over not having a girl and was absolutely madly in love when my first son came along. I marveled at how I could have ever wanted a girl because boys were just perfect (as babies).
With my second son, I was determined that I was going to level the playing field in my house and bless my husband with the daughter he never wanted. Before I went in for the sonogram this time, I had all my girl names picked out. I knew, for certain, that it was a girl. This pregnancy was so different. I felt much worse than I had with the first one (girls are harder, of course) and I had gained much more weight (girls make you ugly, the old wive’s tales tell you). It was absolutely impossible that I could be carrying another boy. Despite the fact that I weighed the pros and cons of having a girl vs a boy and the pros for having a boy won out every time – no need to get new clothes or toys, keep the nursery with the same colors and theme, no wedding, no PMS, etc, etc – I was certain this was a girl and I was thrilled. And then there it was again – that bloody penis. As tears streamed down my cheeks, I could hear my husband silently do an end zone dance as he rejoiced in the fact that he would now be the proud dad of two sons! His sperm had done their job and, since we knew two was our limit, he had secured the majority and our life as a fraternity with me playing the role of den mother would commence.
Nowadays, I feel a bit disconnected from all the men in my house and, as the kids get older, it gets harder and harder. I adore my kids completely and love that they speak a secret language and have equipment that I simply have no understanding of. It creates a whole new level of challenge to this game of parenthood. However, on days like today when I was thinking about going to get a mani/pedi or running out to the store to buy a new pair of jeans, I really miss the fact that I do not have any players on my team. It is hard to be the quarterback, wide receiver, lineman and punter all by myself but I guess I will appreciate it a little bit more when my kids are full-fledged teenagers and, instead of whining and telling me how much they hate me, they will just sit with their dad and watch sports and ignore me. yay.