Friday, October 18, 2013

Tuesday night lights - I'm here for the benchwarmer

Published on KSL - HERE's the link
Published in Cross Timbers Gazette - HERE's the link



I sat in the stadium bleachers, watching my seventh-grade son’s football game. He stood on the sidelines, where he had been the entire game, as the fourth quarter started. It had rained all evening, I was shivering, I had several unattended items waiting for me at home, and my son wasn’t likely to even play.
Wondering why I had even bothered to come, I seriously considered leaving.
While considering, I remembered thinking — before I became a mom — that I pretty much knew what being a mom was like. I had been, after all, present while being raised by my own mom.
Among thousands of other fantasies, I had somehow conjured up images of my kids single-handedly scoring game points on bright, sunny days. In these daydreams, I was always sitting in the front row wearing a super cute outfit and a huge smile, holding a special treat for my darling child who had just stole the show or won the game.
I know, right?
Simple calculations would have probably been a better use of my time than daydreaming. Five kids multiplied by one or two activities each could have given me a rough estimate of how many mom hours I would spend sitting in bleachers or auditorium seats or camping chairs, watching and cheering and taking pictures.

Enlarge image
Susie Boyce's son, jersey number 80, stands on the sidelines. (Photo: Susie Boyce)
Yes, it should have been a no-brainer. But somehow, the fact that attending kid events would take up a good portion of my waking hours (plus a few sleeping ones) had eluded me — or I didn't acknowledge it due my reluctance to face the inevitable.
For the most part, I thoroughly enjoy it. I’m even proud to say I’ve accepted the reality that my kids won’t always be headlining performances or scoring the most points. More often than not, they’ll be extras in the background or standing on the sidelines. I’m fine with this, because I know that my kids are in the process of becoming who they will be some day — but they’re not yet there.
In the meantime, they’re figuring out what they enjoy, what their talents are and how to be good team players. And ideally, I’m there to support and document that process by cheering them on and taking a few pictures along the way.
As important as these events are, scheduling doesn’t always work in my favor, making it logistically impossible for me to attend everything. Most of the time, I feel badly when I have to miss something. But I don't always mind having to bow out. Call me wimpy, but at times I'm simply exhausted.
Excessive rain definitely wasn't working in my favor at my son’s football game this past Tuesday night. So, with about five minutes left on the clock, I stood up to leave. But then the coach made a call, and I sat right back down.
I watched him turn completely around from the lineup of players on the sidelines and carefully search the bleachers for a familiar face. Thankfully, mine was still there for him to find.
My son had finally been given a chance to play. He played his big seventh-grade heart out for about one minute, during which time I tried to snap a few action shots. After those brief 60 seconds, he went back to the sidelines. That was it.
My son has a decent social status at school and does much (especially with his hair) to maintain it. So I was stunned by what happened next. I watched him turn completely around from the lineup of players on the sidelines and carefully search the bleachers for a familiar face.
Thankfully, mine was still there for him to find.
It was then that I remembered exactly why I had bothered to come. And why there were so many other parents all around me sitting on wet bleachers, shivering under their umbrellas. Because whether our kids are sidelining or headlining, it’s our faces they look for in the stands.
So I'll be there whenever I possibly can.
On bleachers, auditorium seats or camping chairs.
Watching, cheering, taking pictures.

Rain or shine.

4 comments:

  1. PS I SO thought of this post last night when I was at a big church in Hurst for a choir concert of the FMHS Jag Chorale. My oldest son sang his heart out and then, during the applause, scanned until he caught my eye and smiled. And that's why I was there. :-) (Plus, in this case, the concert was fabulous!)

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  2. You are oh so right here. Our kids look for us in the bleachers. Our son was never really interested in sports until he went into high school and then decided that he wanted to play football. He doesn't have the natural athletic ability that he dad has and so was not one of those that even touched the playing field. He was one of the 3rd stringers and warmed the bench.

    Your comment, "More often than not, they’ll be extras in the background or standing on the sidelines. I’m fine with this, because I know that my kids are in the process of becoming who they will be some day — but they’re not yet there." is so right on the nose. We watched several of the boys that were bench warmers quit the team because they didn't get any playing time. They missed out on developing important parts of their character. Our son stuck it out for 4 painful years warming the bench but grew immensely inside. He learned persevierance, sportsmanship, how to be an asset to his team (community) etc. which all helped develop his character and he developed into the fine young man he is today.

    Through these tough 4 years, we never missed a game, and on the very few times that he did actually get some playing time, he looked for us in the bleachers to make sure we saw him on the field. What was the best, he KNOWS we will always love and support him, whether or not he is the "star player."

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  3. Thank you for this post. Debbie and Dale have always been in my prayers. It is so nice to see how they are doing. Debbie has always been a hero of mine because of how gracefully she has handle her trials in life. Dale and Debbie are living with Honor.

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