One of my favorite family pics of almost all of us a few years ago!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

There Isn't Much Difference Between Football and Real Life! January 30, 2013

My husband and I were driving back from the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.  In case you don’t live in the south or aren’t a football addict, the Alabama/Georgia game determined who plays Notre Dame in the National Championship game in January.  This is BIG.  And by BIG I mean that the outcome of this game determines my husband’s mood and mindset for at least the next month and perhaps for the next year.  (I don’t mean to be a spoiler, but Alabama won!)

This is a big deal for me because it gave me a reason to go with my husband to Atlanta for the day without a single child – something that rarely happens.  And by rare I mean hardly ever.  After 23 years of marriage and a total of 53 children, we only get to be completely alone about four or five times per year.  Last year, two of those times were on the days of his colonoscopy and the subsequent removal of 12 polyps. I’m serious. 

Ironically, this year, two of our four dates happened the week of the SEC Championship. On the Monday before the Saturday game, one of my adult children called unexpectedly and said to my husband, “I have the day off.  You and Mom go out for the day.  I’ll babysit everyone.” We ran.  We still don’t know what she really wants, but we decided to deal with that later!

We had little money and nothing to do, but we left the house and stayed gone until all the kids were in bed.  It was thrilling.

The football date is all for my husband.  I enjoy sports, but I honestly believe that it is “only a game.”  I know that these are treasonous words in the South.  And some might question whether I actually am a born and bred Alabamian.  I am.  But I was raised by Notre Dame fans.  Anyone see any irony in that?

Anyway, my husband obsesses about football for a good portion of each year.  He thinks about it.  Prays about it.  Analyzes it. Reads about it.  Memorizes stats.  Pays attention to the recruiting season and is a walking encyclopedia of everything Alabama.

About 15 years ago we were at an Alabama game – in the days before so many kids when we used to have at least one date a week….. hmmm maybe that’s how we got all these kids.  Naaah.

He bought a program.  That is when we had money to waste on programs and I still went with him to most of the games.
Anyway, he was reading the program and there was a page of scores from past games.  I don’t remember the exact details, but he looked at the program and said, “That was not the score of the 1972 game.  It was blah v. blah!” I stared at him in disbelief.  Keep in mind that he was challenging the printed program stats in a game that had been played more than 20 years before.

Really?!?  Are you kidding me? My facial expression says it all. “ I believe you because I know you.  But really?!? How is their room in your brain for that kind of mindless detail?  And how can you retrieve it instantly?”

In all fairness, my husband is a numbers guy and he has provided for our mega-sized family for 23 years without a single complaint.  Nonetheless, neither of us can keep up with our anniversary each year.  He can’t find anything in the refrigerator or bathroom unless it jumps into his hands.  And he intentionally stays out of the loop on the details of the kids’ educational needs unless it involves math – which is his category.  He’s a good man, a great husband and a loving father, but the fact that he knows AND CARES about such minute details from 20 years ago totally amazes me.  I really just don’t get it.  Really.

But something BIG happened to me today. 

The difference between our reactions to some things are quite telling.  I get wound up thinking about, trying to predict, and control the outcome of my daily interactions with my children.  I’m always calculating how to impact my kids.  How to get them to care.  How to get them to see the value in things.  I  have learned not to “worry” in the usual sense of the word, but there is no doubt that I spend 23 of every 24 hours focusing on the issues related to my children.  Not much else crosses my mind.  You might say I obsess

During the game we are amongst 75,000 people.  My husband has been talking non-stop all day about predictions, calculations, his thoughts,  the thoughts of others,  his thorough review of all the experts who pontificate and attempt to predict the outcome of the game, as if they have some special gift that allows them to know what will happen in a game that has not yet been played. He knows every detail and every factoid. 

At the game, between shouts and screams loud enough to scare a raccoon out of our kitchen (true story), he’s biting his nails worried.  He seems to think that he can change the outcome of the game by thinking and talking about it non-stop. 

He looks at me.  I’m standing and cheering and yelling and having fun.  But, I’m not at all worried.  He asks me why, and suggests, “Because you don’t care who wins.”

My response was simple. “No.  Because worrying doesn’t help me or them.  I know that I have no control.  I know that all my worries won’t change the outcome of this game.  I know that if they do what they are supposed to do.  If they do what Saban has coached them to do, it will all turn out fine.”

He smiled.  “It’s all about the process for you, isn’t it.” My husband and children have heard me say that a billion times.  I value the process as much as the result because that is where character is revealed.  Winning can be based on luck or prayer or circumstances, but how we react to the process reveals our heart.  And from my view, if we aren’t playing for the heart, then what value is there in competitive sports for our children?

That’s when it dawned on me.  Why is it so simple and easy to recognize that fan worry has no impact whatsoever on the outcome of the football game?  No amount of planning or shouting on my part will change the outcome of the game.  Other than participating in crowd noise, the only way to actually have an impact on the game, is to have a relationship with and/or authority over the players.

So, why do I feel at complete peace about an Alabama football game and recognize that if the coach has done his job, I can remain calm?  

However, I can’t seem to recognize that if my husband and I have done our job, worry and obsessing alone won’t change things for my children

Touche', my dear.  Touche'.


  1. Thanks for the encouragement Mrs. G! Our baby is due in several months, but even now I can find myself worrying about things that I can't control (which at this point is practically everything). We are a work in progress. And, just wondering, what happened with the raccoon in the kitchen ... ;)

  2. Shannon, I can't believe you are married and about to be a mother. It seems like just yesterday you were 14! If you can figure out NOW what you can't and can't control, life will be so much more pleasant. Recognizing that our role as mothers to raise our children is important, but finding the ever-changing boundaries between our role as mom and God's role over us and our children is an ongoing challenge. Recognizing the need to make that distinction is half the battle!