Keeping My Eyes On Them: Football Momming

I have loved football since my super cool babysitter Jeanie, the oldest of five sisters, taught me how to hold and throw a football when I was ten. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be the MOTHER of five football players, which is a little more emotionally complicated than watching the game on television. 

I am writing this post while I wait for Dave and Mitch to finish their work out at SNAP Fitness.

On a Sunday. 

The day after Dave’s team played their asses off but lost in a state playoff game on the west side of the state. 

We all knew the team was going to be hard to beat. They had us in numbers and size. But our boys’ season had already lasted longer than the competition told them it would and their hearts were big, filled with confidence and pride that was put there by highly skilled coaches who LOVED THEM. So we knew it was possible to win. We drove 346 miles each way to watch these boys play and I remember walking up the bleachers to where we always sit between the thirty and forty yard line to the left of our team, mid way up and having this tearful moment of hysteria. For the win of course but more so for every single boy’s physical safety.

Football is not a rational game. Eleven fierce men on each side beating the shit out of each other over a ball. So I feel like I am perfectly justified for crying with anxiety one minute and the next screaming with absolute RAGE over game changing bad calls made by the refs. My voice is still hoarse from screaming at yesterday’s game. Though I refuse to boo. Somewhere in my past I was taught that booing is uncivilized and I don’t want people to think I’m like the Ancient Booer from ‘The Princess Bride’. No. I don’t boo. I yell things at bad refs like “You should be ASHAMED of yourself.” My husband wishes I would just boo. 

Our oldest son Duncan, who is twenty five now, played on the DLine and was an explosive and dangerous player suiting up for varsity his sophomore year. His senior year he got his bell rung playing at Joe Albi Stadium. Grant hadn’t made it to the game yet and I didn’t see the hit because I had taken my eyes off him. I was chatting with my mother in-law and distracted by the younger kids, handing out crackers and juice boxes. Seeing Duncan being carried out by a couple of fellow players on each side of him, his legs kind of dangling, and wobbly, their arms under him in support aged my heart. 

I was wearing a walking boot at the time but I remember moving at the speed of light down the bleachers to the entrance of the field house where they were taking him. Two stadium guards tried to tell me I could not enter the area and I remember the words “MOVE OUT OF MY WAY” erupting from my mouth in a demonic growl that made them both step aside. 

It turns out you CAN run in a walking boot.

Duncan was so concussed that he couldn’t remember his dad’s name or count backwards from 10 and the ER doctor suggested that we do a cat scan just to make sure there wasn’t any bleeding on his brain, which they only do when it’s bad. 

All he kept saying was “I need to get back to the team. I need to play. They need me.”

It ended well: ‘just’ a good concussion.  He didn’t get to play football for a few games, which to him felt like the end of the world. But I remember how it felt to think MY world might be ending. 

Since then, we always sit between the thirty and forty yard line on the left side of the players away from most of our friends. I don’t like to talk to people when my boys are playing. Most of my friends understand: when I took my eyes off Duncan he got hurt. 

Dillin also played DLine. Toward the end of his senior year he wrote a paper about football, telling about how it felt to not be noticed by his coaches, about not being big enough, or fast enough. How he threw away his participation piece of paper at the football banquet because they spelled his name wrong. But then how he made a decision to hit the gym and work his ass off and MAKE himself known. The one thing I have come to know about Dillin is that when he makes a decision to do something, there is no getting in his way. He took ownership of himself and consequently had a very memorable senior year including an interception that changed the entire tone of the game, turning a losing first half into a winning second half. He made the news. And they knew his name, pronouncing it properly for all of Spokane to hear. My eyes were on him so I saw his smile from clear up in the stands.

Daniel moved around a lot: DB, safety and strong safety. Him playing those positions honestly scared the shit out of me. It became my ritual on gameday morning to look him in the eyes and tell him “Keep your body safe” and then “But win” and then “Just run really fast when you intercept the ball and don’t let them catch you” which he did numerous times on JV and then on Varsity his senior year. He was in the paper enough times to fill a shadow box I made him for Christmas. The boy played six years of tackle football without a single broken bone. This year at college, he broke his thumb in six places playing flag football with his fellow WSU football team equipment managers. I maybe should have been there. His words were “But we won 44-0 so…”

David broke the middle finger on his left hand, through the skin on his first game in the 8th grade, under a giant pile of boys (where I of course could not see him, so my super powers were diminished.) He got the most “gruesome injury” award by the brothers but was devastated to not get to play again until the last game of the year: something about growth plates and him needing his middle finger, which makes sense. He is known for using it a lot. This year, as a junior, he broke his left hand on the second day of practice. He was x-rayed, splinted and back to practice on the same day, to at least watch the plays, determined to not lose too much ground. Once the swelling went down, he was able to play like a beast man with a badass club cast, on both sides of the line for JV and some OLine for Varsity. The club cast helped me keep track of him: his angry fierceness shocking from the son I have known to be unwaveringly compassionate off the field.  He knows his senior year is just around the corner. Hence the gym on Sunday, mindset already in place that it’s up to him. I recognize the hell-bent look.

Grant made Mitchel play freshman football after choosing not to play in junior high and he was made better for having played, his confidence and physicality grown and his understanding of TEAM stronger. As primarily an OLineman he helped his team to a winning season of 9 and 1 but did get to experience his first sack on the DLine, so there might be some defense in his soul. His coaches were so good in terms of skill building and passion fueling that I think he will be back next year. The game held joy for him that he did not expect to find.

My fifteenth year as a football mother is complete and like the end of every season, my warriors are tired, beat up, thinner and slightly melancholy that it’s over. My eyes have been looking up a lot in thanks and gratitude. I do not take their health and safety for granted, on or off the field. But words can’t really describe this fiery, fierce heart rush I feel when I watch my boys play, each having their own personal and unique experiences on the field. The team is a microcosm of the real world, a practice field of sorts, where it’s not all fun, where things can be hard and not always fair, where sometimes you get the shit beat out of you. But when those winning moments come, they are powerful and life changing and made exponential as a team: fuel for the future to help them play their hearts out for a different team.

Potty Talk

During our 346 mile drive to the west side for a state playoff football game, this conversation happened between me and my husband:

G: Do you have to pee? 

H: I always have to pee.

G: (Pulls out of the fog to yet another rest area.)

H: Crap! It’s only portables. I hate those. 

G: Yeah I know. 

H: (entering a portable) It’s better than peeing on the road. Though this trip I remembered to bring a giant plastic cup for emergency road stops so that I don’t pee on my shoes. Guys are so lucky. 

G: (entering the other portable)Yeah.

H: (exiting the portable with a grimace on her face) Street peeing would have been better. I may or may not have peed on my shoes

G: Do I dare ask ‘how on earth’?

H: You wouldn’t understand.

G: But I’m sure you’re going to try and explain.

H: The seat was totally covered in pee before I got there and there was no place to hang my purse. 

G: Well THAT explains it.

H: And the shirt Im wearing is super long. See?

G: 

H: I can do two and sometimes three things at once. But never four. 

G: (picture thought bubbles above his head filled with question marks floating around  the words ‘why am I with this woman’)

H: (Counting with fingers for emphasis) 1)Hold purse 2)hold up shirt 3) hesitantly squat/lunge to pee over a rather high toilet seat 4)aim 5) reach for TP with purse hand See?

G: The next five miles we need to watch for elk

H: (Watches for elk for five miles, worried about any elk getting hurt, but luckily doesn’t see any, so she’s pretty sure that was just code for ‘stop talking about pee’)

Krakatoa is Coming for Me

It’s currently 5:30 pm on Friday night as I start this post. I literally had to force myself to click off all the open tabs on my computer and just let go for the day. Three days away at a conference has put me three days behind in my daily work flow. Fridays for me are generally sacred office days. I sleep in a little bit later because I know I’m not going to get dressed but just do the following in my pjs (or sweats if I’m feeling ambitious): 

  • Follow up on orders placed that week and make sure they are entered on my spreadsheet so I can report to my manufacturers: BEHOLD! I am working!
  • Set appointments for the next couple weeks, using my computer calendar, my planner and my white board for back up
  • Research potential new customers-they are out there, and Google has changed the world as we know it
  • Maybe eat some soup and do some yoga at noon or take the dogs for a walk
  • Study new products: can’t sell if I can’t tell
  • Order samples
  • Organize my car and home office desk
  • Send out handwritten thank you cards-my rule is three per week

But none of that even came close to happening today. My sole focus was my EMAIL IN-BOX, which I have named Krakatoa, after a live volcano in Indonesia. 

Now mind you, I’m not a “ZERO emails in the in-box by end of day” kind of person. I’m pretty sure people like that are demi-gods who don’t sleep, eat or have any fun. Me? I’m comfortable with 50 or under at the end of the day and 25 or under before the weekend starts. I like a little left over email clutter because these are usually emails that I need to respond to with a little more thought, time and a fresh brain.

Tonight, however, I shut things down with 282 unread emails in my inbox and I worked most of the day to get it to that number so I’m feeling completely out of control. I read somewhere that reading and returning emails should not be on your To-Do list but for my business they are a key part in how I move projects from the design phase into orders, which is of course what pays me. So HELL yeah emails are part of my to do list. But there comes a point in time where you just need to say enough and risk the danger of Krakatoa exploding with hot lava and frustrated clients.

I’m old enough to remember my sales life without email. Life moved at a different pace then. We communicated on phones with cords so you couldn’t pace while talking without pulling the phone off your desk. Sometimes we mailed proposals or literature with STAMPS. Later on came this devil magic thing called the FAX Machine. But most of the work was done face to face. 

These days, at least for me, emails have become a pretty big part of the sales equation and I don’t think this will be changing any time soon. And now I can actually email video recordings of myself showing product options with background music (2020 goal). And if you read my blog post from two days ago, I can text videos of my cartoon emoji saying thank you for the order.

So while NOTHING and I mean nothing beats being up close and personal in sales (and at home: I’m about to go show my real face to my family) Krakatoa is live and rumbling and she’s coming for me. But she is gonna have to wait until Monday. 

Sitting Still

I have been in an 8 hour long meeting about navigating government contracts with almost no time to answer phone calls or emails from my clients today, let alone write a blog post. There is one more day to go tomorrow and I have to say: my soul feels slightly dead. I’m not good at sitting still for ONE hour, let alone eight, unless it’s to binge watch Netflix. It is 5:48 pm and I have exactly thirty-two minutes to pull some kind of blog post out of my sleeve before I get to go have dinner at the 3rd finest steakhouse in Las Vegas which I’m NOT skipping, even though I considered doing so and instead opt for room service and my jammies and catching up on work and writing. But I’m in VEGAS and I really love steak. Consequently, this is probably going to be short and dull with a lot of bad grammar because while I absolutely want to put out good content to my small but loyal group of readers, the promise to myself of a daily post in November means I may have to from time to time say “screw content”. Sorry not sorry. 

There was assigned seating today at the conference and I was placed at the front of the room in the middle of the long narrow table. They clearly did not get the memo that I am extremely claustrophobic and need to be by an exit sign at all times or I get fidgety and a little panic sweaty. Plus it was awkward to sneak out to the bathroom, (HELLO: six babies equals bad bladder) AND there was not enough table space for all my STUFF. I also kept kicking off the table skirt every time I crossed and uncrossed my legs, which was about every forty two seconds, due to bladder/claustrophobia. To make matters worse, I couldn’t sneak texts and emails because the boss of the conference was very strict about phones being off and attention being on the content. Which I understand entirely. They spent a lot of time putting the conference together and it’s not polite to not pay attention. 

But the night before I had figured out how to make videos of my personalized emoji self using face recognition with my recorded voice message coming out of super cute lips, complete with perfect lipstick.  Earlier that morning I had sent quite a few videos of my new CARTOON identity telling my kids I loved them, my friends that I was stuck in Vegas without them and sad and thanking a few customers for orders in what I thought to be an amazingly creative manner. So I was getting quite a few responses from the people I texted this morning with my new favorite thing EVER: CARTOON HEATHER.  So I wanted to see the responses but couldn’t until breaks. 

It turns out that a lot of my customers (and some of my family members) thought I was drunk, which I WAS NOT. So I had to explain to them in NORMAL phone calls during the lunch hour (when I could have been eating TACOS) that I had thought it was great marketing, having a cartoon video of myself. Plus I don’t even have to brush my hair or put makeup like I do when I Facetime. My video emoji ALWAYS LOOKS CUTE. So this could potentially change the whole sales call thing, assuming I can close deals in 30 seconds or under. 

It’s probably going to take a little while for people to get used to the new cartoon me but I’m pretty sure I’m on to something. 

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Zen Flying

I’m always super smug  in the TSA security line and take delight in being THE most efficient person in line despite the fact that I need five bingies for my stuff. 

Bingie #1

  • Easy to slip off shoes (The TSA guy took them OUT of my bingie which was annoying to my sense of order but I didnt protest. Im sure he touches a LOT of shoes which could make a person cranky when argued with.)
  • My lucky necklace that one person said looks like an Irish Symbol. It actually came free with a dress purchase at Kohls. But I personally think it looks like a spy necklace
  • My Fitbitch: she loves when I’m in airports, hello STEPS
  • Wedding ring. (Apparently I didn’t have to take that off but it was fun to be single for a minute) 
  • Glasses (which is why I didn’t see the other TSA person waiving me through to the poof of wind tunnel and therefore lost efficiency points for dawdeling for 3.2 seconds before getting yelled at) 

Bingie #2

  • My baggie full of liquids and gels plus three lipsticks. Im never sure if lipsticks count as gel but Im not willing to risk potential time in Fulsom over LIPSTICK
  • My purse, now empty of my mom’s urn and my samuri sword (see yesterday’s blog post) plus all liquids and gels and MAY be gels) see Bingie#2

At this point the man behind me thinks I’m done with bingies. Oh contraire Mr Take Up MY Bingie Space Guy. 

Bingie#3

  • Ipad 1
  • Ipad 2
  • Iphone
  • Ichargers 1 and 2
  • IhavetoomanyIdevices-it’s too complicated to explain
  • Portable Iphone battery thing that looks super suspicious to ME because it looks like a tiny black bomb, but its not, it’s my emergency back up charger in case I cant find a port/plug and/or dont want to sit by someone weird in order to charge via said port/ plug, so I NEED it but always get a little sweaty about this. 

Bingie#4

  • My Chromebook

Bingie#5

  • My briefcase containing 14 blue capped pens, 1 red pen and three spiral notebooks in case one of my Idevices doesn’t work
  • A really good library book that I hope I don’t leave on the airplane. My library card has been marked ‘at risk’ so I’m taking a big chance

Mr. Pushy actually had the nerve to whisper God’s Son’s name in vain while I OCD’d all my bingies so they were all in a straight line and flipped my briefcase a few times so the shoulder straps weren’t hanging out. He clearly did not know how much slower any OTHER person would have been with all this stuff. I forgive him though. People get weird in airports. It’s the fear and uncertainty. 

This is why I always put on my biggest, most serene, ‘I’m more patient than all of you’ smile from the security line all the way through boarding, watching the pursed lip, scowly people flounder and sigh and judge the person in front of them for going too slow or having so much stuff or just being annoyingly in front of them. They know not what they do for they are anxious, weary, fearful fliers and don’t know how to be zen like me while traveling.

My biggest concern on my flight from Spokane to Salt Lake was deciding before the flight attendant reached me, if I wanted cookies or cheez-its. I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t see what kind of cookie they were serving. The cheez-it packages looked pretty small and I was worried it would be just a cheez-it tease and not any kind of happy cheez-it orgy. I mean the flight was a whole hour and thirty seven minutes. 

It turned out they were whole grain cheez-its. Blasphemy. I chose poorly. Which made me kind of grumpy about the kid behind me kicking my seat. I’m normally more chill about that stuff, but I’m not gonna lie, I visualized a little airplane aisle smack down. And the guy next to me was a diet-coke slurper so that was a little grating to my ears. But I kept that shit to myself and just asked for a cookie from the super nice Delta Flight attendant, who had a sexy french accent. And he gave one to me without any kind of snarky judging. 

In conclusion, not one single person KNEW I was having any kind of inner struggle with zen flying.  I don’t know why other people can’t be more like me. 

Namaste Bitches! Ha!

 

 

 

Tripping

I’m feeling super whiny and stressed out because I have to fly to Vegas tomorrow for work. Don’t roll your eyes, it’s not going to be all that fun. The meeting is about how to maneuver through government flooring contracts. The thought kind of makes me want to stab my eyes out. Yes. I know flooring is my livelihood but why Vegas? And why three whole days? I mean isn’t that what the government does? Take something that should only need four hours to accomplish and stretch it out into three days and spend four times the amount of money than is even logical? 

I’m starting to sound like my dad.

Anyhow. I’ve been short on time all day today trying to smash four days of my real work into one day PLUS figure out what I’m going to wear at my meetings in Vegas. That’s really what my stress is about. I find it’s so much easier to just DRIVE where I have to go because then I can take everything in my closet complete with hangers plus ALL my shoes and dump it into four suitcases. This would cost $300 to check on an airplane. Plus my car doesn’t judge me for packing four suitcases for three days of travel. 

Flying on an airplane puts serious limitations on all the possible wardrobe scenarios that I like to have available to me in order to deal with my tumultuous inner climate, which I blame mostly on global warming: 

  • Sweaty (even in conference rooms with the AC turned to negative ten degrees)
  • Cold (In weather that is 40 degrees warmer than Spokane)
  • Sweaty on my top half and cold on my lower half or vice versa (see how complex I can be?)
  • Bloated from the airplane ride and/or the Big Mac I ate in the airport
  • Sprained ankle that limits cute boots to only sitting and looking cute but not walking which means I have to have at least five only SORT of cute pairs of comfy shoes for back up if I have to walk  (I’m really struggling with blaming global warming on my trip/fall hazardous life but I’m sure it’s somehow connected) 
  • Suddenly not looking good in black (which would mean I’m having a complete emotional breakdown because 95% of my clothing is black-but it’s happened before, hence the need for colorful SCARVES)

Can you see why I would be stressed out? 

BUT on the bright side, my purse is now nice and tidy for my flight: all flammable liquids, my mom’s urn and the samurai sword I keep for safety have all been taken out of my purse and stored safely at home where they won’t be questioned.  Like I will be about my four suitcases.