FOOTBALL WIDOW


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.

BLOWING KISSES


After 11 years of parenthood I am finally beginning to get a handle on my kids and am understanding the very unique personalities of each of my two boys.  My older son, while is sweet and caring, does it in his own stoic way.  He is 11 and has fully embraced the idea of being a moody teenager.  He speaks when he wants to and spends a great deal of time locked behind headphones either attached to his iPhone or his Xbox.  When I get more than 3 or 4 words at a time from him, I cherish each of them and desperately wish (on the inside) for just 1 or 2 more.  I have learned not to push him (although I sometimes break that rule, much to my lament) and to try to capitalize on any moments he offers me more than the occasional grunt.  He took great pleasure in the fact that he is on to the whole Santa schtick finally and that he shared a secret with his mom and dad that we all protectively kept from his 8 year-old brother.  When I discreetly disappeared to the bedroom to wrap “santa’s” gifts, he joined me and we had an hour of blissful discussion about a broad range of topics.  It was priceless and, frankly, my best memory of Christmas this year.  I know it is likely not to happen again for a very LONG time.

My younger son, on the other hand, is a born extrovert just like his mommy.  He needs to talk as much as possible, as often as possible and on as many topics as his little brain can come up with in any given moment.  He lives to make people laugh and will beat a joke into the ground if he gets the desired reaction from his audience.  I know that he is still young and has not yet entered that unpleasant state of pre-adolesence when he will forget how much he enjoys talking to me and decides to shut out the world with the exception of anyone who speaks his mysterious preteen language.  But I have hopes for him.  I regularly pray that he will be different and will not abandon our special relationship.  That he will not shy away from the cuddle time we often share.  That he will not stop kicking my husband out of the bed to be closer to me.  That he will not stop languishing in the opportunities to lay in bed and watch TV only with mommy.  I pray that he stays my baby forever.  I know this won’t happen but a girl can dream, can’t she?

It is often overwhelming watching your children grow and change at such a rapid pace.  Everyone always tells you to cherish each moment because they grow up so fast but you cannot appreciate the reality of that until your son is looking you in the eye and you realize that he has a whole life that you really understand very little of.  We recently spent a weekend watching old videos that I took when the boys were babies and preschoolers and even I was surprised at how much had changed.  How come I could not remember that high pitched voice coming from my older son’s mouth?  When had that delightful little squeal turned into a deep alto in a young man’s body?  What happened to the silly little creature dancing around in the bathroom shaking his butt into the camera?  When did he become reserved and private?  Does he still laugh like that?  When he smiles and shows me a glimpse into his old self, my heart swells.

Our children continually teach us lessons on how to be better people while testing our patience and ability to remain calm under some of the most trying circumstances.  I recently said to a friend that I did not think I would have been able to make to take the great personal strides I have taken in my life without my children being an influence.  They make me want to be a better person because I want to do better for them.  They show us how to love and teach us about forgiveness and kindness.  They allow us to experience every range of emotion possible.  From anger to deep love, to fear and comfort – sometimes all in the span of an hour!

I am grateful for my children and I love them for who they are – two very different and very lovely, kind, generous, and unique boys.  They make me proud and make me thankful that I chose to take this path of motherhood.

I say all this for no particular reason except that my younger son blew me a kiss when he got out of the car this morning at school drop-off and my heart melted.   Maybe, just maybe, he’ll blow me kisses forever.