I played a lot of sports as a kid. Softball, hockey, lacrosse, track and field, you name it- If high school offered it, I was affiliated with it. The deal was the better the grades, the more I could do. Boy did I take advantage of that. Aside from the “and field” part of track and field and in softball, I was defense. I’ve always been a protector so that just fit. My mom didn’t always get to see all of this. I understood as I got older. It was okay. I mean, it wasn’t but you know. The game would start, I’d scan the crowd, lingering on every brunette hoping it was her. Sadness would quickly come and go and I went into my zone. I’d look up randomly and there she would be. Off to the side, closest to the exit, hands in front of her resting on her duty belt. I’d catch her eye, she’d smile and do a little wave and smile back. Some days she was there for a whole half, others I saw her lean down to her radio minutes after getting there. It sucked but at least she saw something.
I remember one basketball game in particular. Freshman year. Last away game of the season. I hadn’t made a basket (not this season anyways). I see mom walk in. She stood by the corner of the bleachers. I was probably the only one to notice her come in. My team runs down the court and I stay back towards the net we’re shooting on. Our team steals and I’m wide open. I come up expecting to block (again, I’d never made a basket- partially because I was the ‘fat girl’ so no one passed to me) but the ball came towards me. I caught it, pivoted, did a lay up and made it. Holy cow! NO WAY! My team cheered. For me?! I didn’t care I just looked around for my mom. She was beaming. She saw. Last game, first basket. She saw. We start to reset down the court (this wasn’t a game winning finale after all) and I spy her head go down to respond to whatever call comes out next. She smiles and nods goodbye and gets ready to go be a Deputy instead of a mom again.
One thing that meant a lot that my mom did was she would go over my game schedule and bargain with her coworkers to switch patrol areas so she could stop in on my games. Talk about a family and it taking a village! Sports were important. They gave me a stability and consistency I didn’t have in other places of my life. What my mom did for me is something I cannot express gratitude for.
Fast forward to now. I’ve been out of sports for 13 years. I smell the sweaty football pads (and the bleach that is a must for them) and there are socks and cleats everywhere. I organize my work schedule around one in football and one in soccer. The man checks his schedule against our oldest son’s schedule. “Hey babe, think you can get off duty so you can work this game?” “Write down the date and time so I can check it out. That’ll be getting paid to watch my boys whole game!” he responds. I mark in his calendar when and where games are so he can try to be off in time to catch the last half. He’s a city cop but he’s trying to do what my mom did. Work around to see a game. Because they’re so darn important. Our oldest had a game tonight. The baby and our 7 year old sat with me along the home team’s side. Our son goes on the field and takes his position. He nails a fantastic tackle. My phone starts ringing and it’s the man. “Did you see that hit of his?! Wait, look, he’s center now! Awesome!!” I scan the crowd and there he is, off on the far end all alone. I never knew he was there. He only made the last quarter but he was there. He had to stay away from us so no one put two and two together that we were his but we saw him and our oldest saw him and that’s all that matters.
I’m not a great stay at home mom, but by golly I’ll be a darn good sports mom and cheer enough for their dad and I. Even if he catches the game through video or FaceTime, our kids will know that dad wanted to be there and that he’s tied for their #1 fan.