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The #1 Thing I Learned as a Football Mom

I promise, I really intend to tell you the number one thing I learned as a football mom (this isn’t a stalling technique), but I do feel morally obligated to confess one very important fact to you: I have only been a football mom for about an hour.

It’s true.

My eight-year-old son just started playing flag football through the Upward organization and I just returned from his very first game.

Instead of lads dressed in helmets and pads, we watched first-third graders with flags buckled around their waist chase each other in every direction except the end zone.

Nonetheless, that did not negate the seriousness with which the players took this game.

Since the first day of practice, my son has been counting down the days until his very first game. My husband flew back early from a business trip so he could be present. I was even cajoled into making a pre-game stop at the grocery store to buy two (yes, TWO) different kinds of Gatorade specifically for the event to ensure he was properly hydrated.

And I won’t even go into the countdown clock that has been going on in our home this week.

You’re getting the picture, right?

There was no difference in his mind between this five man Little League team and 50 strand pro team he watches on TV.

So an hour before the event, we dutifully loaded our lawn chairs, water bottles, bug spray, popsicles, umbrellas, visors, and anything else our family thought we might need for this epic event.

Yet there was one very important thing I left behind: my computer.

If you know anything about me, it’s this: I don’t sit still well.

An opportunity to go somewhere for over an hour is an opportunity to get something done in my mind. But I knew this little boy was going to be watching me like a hawk during the game to make sure we didn’t miss a single move of his on the field.

And I was right.

In fact, not only was he excited when I told him I wasn’t bringing my computer to the field, he thanked me afterwards for watching his game.

Thanked me!

You see, other parents didn’t get the memo. They were on their phones & tablets, talking to other parents, reading books, or otherwise unengaged with the throwdown that was happening on the grid iron.

And honestly, that could easily have been me.

But I learned from a mentor before even having kids that the best present we can give our children is our presence.

Does that mean I will never take a phone call during his ten year career as a football player? (Assuming we make it past this season…) Of course not.

But this was his only ever first football game. I knew the stakes were high and I knew what this meant to him emotionally.

For me as a mother, the return on investment I made by being physically and emotionally present during this game far outweighed any benefit that would have come about as a result of completing any other task.

So, just in case you missed it, my number one tip for football moms is this: be present.

People wonder why kids start to check out and disengage from their parents during their tween and teen years and while I would never pre-suppose to say that the answer is simple, I would go out on a limb and say it’s because their parents started disengaging from them years before.

How will you re-engage with your kids today?

6 comments

  1. I love this! And, I love that he picked up on it and acknowledged that you did something for him by not bringing the computer.

    I know I’m guilty of the phone thing, but trying to do better!

  2. Not just football. My kids are too young for that (yet) but they do take swimming lessons and they love when I wave to them during their lessons and can (correctly) talk about what they did during their class (like a pop quiz!) You are right. Those times are important and set the stage for the entire relationship with our kids. So if I need to stash a computer away for 30 minutes, then I will (Though I still reserve the right to pull out my phone when I have to make a quick ‘run’ to the bathroom’)

  3. So sweet! I’m sure as soon as you realized you didn’t pack your computer you were in a state of panic. But what a sweet surprise for you…and him! I totally agree that one of the best gifts we can give our children is our presence and while it can be hard to disengage it’s so necessary for ourselves and our families. I’m always on the computer at work and when I get home it’s my time to kinda of catch up on emails, tweets etc. but it’s also my time to catchup with my daughter and she deserves my undivided attention just a rushes mmhmm because I’m in the middle of posting a picture on IG. I live for moments like this where you have an a-ha moment.

  4. My 6 year old asked me if I “saw his goal or were you playing on your phone” after his soccer game the other day. I have since vowed to leave it in the car.

  5. Good for you for unplugging to be present even though I completely understand how hard this is! I know my kids are always checking to see if I’m watching during their dive, soccer, baseball, etc. practices and games and I love those brief moments where we happen to glance over at each other and the smiles that result from them acknowledging that I’m present. Great job resisting the urge because after all– everything else can wait! :)