I am a college football-loving mama living in the deep south, and if there one thing you need to know about my "type," it's that during the months of September, October and November, we could care less about pumpkin spice flavored everything, cardigan sweater trends and autumn foliage-covered tablescapes.
What we do care passionately about, and spend every Saturday in the fall obsessing over, is all things pigskin. You won't find any of us having a mani/pedi or attending a garden club luncheon on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And southern girls know better than to throw any type of girlie shower on a Saturday in the fall. You will, however, spot us at our alma mater's tailgate, transforming your average parking lot into the center of spirited fandom, where your trunk opens up and out spills a dazzling cocktail party.
Oozing southern hospitality and a football I.Q. that could rival an ESPN commentator, you'll find us southern women happily dishing out pimento cheese dip, fried chicken and smoked pulled pork. And most likely, at the tailgate party, there will mini versions of us clad in spirit wear, tossing footballs, tossing back the grub and later that day, tossing UP the mayonnaise-laden dip that sat out in the sun all afternoon. (It's OK, it was worth it.)
Anyway, it was after a particularly nail-biting, fist-clenching, hoarse voice-inducing battle on the gridiron last weekend that it hit me. It hit me as hard as a division one linebacker whizzing past the left offensive tackle and easily taking out the QB on the blind side: Turns out, raising kids is a helluva lot like college football -- in its plays, its penalties, its screaming audibles (Clean. Your. Room. NOW), its highest of high wins, and its lowest of lows agony of defeats. Similarities? I have a few...
Oh, attachment parenting, how I loved thee. Until I didn't love thee. Until one day, four kids in, I decided I wanted everyone on the proverbial OTHER side of the line. I needed those 10 years I lived without any shred of personal space BACK, and I needed them now. Sure, I can still hug and cuddle my little ones, but the big boys who I am now forced to look UP to? They scare me. I am the undersized offensive lineman looking deep into the face of a much larger D-back. Please, teenage boy who just inhaled two rotisserie chickens, don't jump over here and startle me.
2. Hands to the Face.
I cherished my time feeding a baby in my lap; those big, round glossy eyes staring up at me, and those soft, padded little fingertips reaching up to touch my face, squeeze my nose or stroke my cheek. But in no way, shape, or form do I want any of my boys touching me in the face now. It's just not precious anymore. Please, no poking, flicking, jabbing, nose grabbing or cheek-stroking with your perpetually sticky hands ever again. (Unless one of you boys become a makeup artist, then yes, you have full access to my face. Bring your airbrush.)
3. Unnecessary Roughness.
Seriously? I have four sons. My life is one big roughness penalty after the next. Everything in my house is broken, and we have a frequent punch card for the local hospital's emergency room (and also one for our town's window glass replacement business). We live in a constant state of who has the purple egg on their forehead today?
Parenting. Just when you think it's over, it's SOOOO NOT over. Ever. Finally got newborn to sleep after three hours of pacing the floor? He wakes up two seconds after you put him down. Overtime. All the kiddos tucked in for the night? 3 a.m. violent stomach virus. Overtime. Just found out science project is due tomorrow? Worst. Overtime. Ever. Hope you are hydrated, Mama, because life is parenting in overtime. And this game is really never over.
5. The Upset.
You are rockin' the mom thing hard, your kitchen floor is clean, the laundry is done and the family is running like a boss on all cylinders. Reports cards are full of A's, the kids are actually being nice to each other and you went on a date night with your husband and agreed on both the restaurant AND the movie. Hoorah! Enjoy it while it lasts, because you are just one burnt dinner away from a cataclysmic series of false starts, personal fouls and a pick six which will lead to child number one being knocked off their pedestal and the entire family spiraling down into meltdown-dom. Man up, Mom, you got next week's dinner... err... game to redeem yourself.
6. Cover Two, Man On Man, Zone Defenses.
There you are, just you and your husband and your first baby. It is a cover two defense in reverse, your sweet baby covered with two sets of eyes at all times. It is the easiest you will ever have it, and the irony is you won't realize it until your two cover becomes man-to-man when baby number two arrives, and then full-blown zone defense when baby number three and four join the team. By that point, you and your husband have become masters of the hand off, the bootleg, the scramble and the quarterback sneak. Four kids deep and I have settled into a prevent defense (just feed them and keep them alive), and now I'm just trying to run out the clock by bench sitting comatose, waiting for the second string to show up to relieve me.
7. Hail Mary.
You've got one in you, moms. We all do. So, when all of the above yellow flags are tossed at you, and you are backed up on your own 30 and down by three late in the fourth quarter, go ahead and wing it. Just say a prayer, call your girlfriends and schedule the mom version of the zero time on the clock touchdown -- a girls' night out. Because sometimes, the best call in the huddle is, "GNO, 7 p.m., ASAP.... hut, hut, hut...."