It all started out so innocently. We made our accounts at NFL.com. Me, my husband and our 11 year old, Haden. We did this way back in June or some month like that.
Fast forward (because sometimes I wish I could do that in real life) to two weeks ago. The ‘real’ NFL season was about to start (featuring the Best Team Ever and some team from Wisconsin) in beautiful Seattle, WA. My son and his best friend, who lives two doors down, had been planning their fantasy football league for months. They had people to be in the league, they needed eight. Or so Haden thought.
The days leading up to the ‘official start of the football season’ were a bit nerve-wracking for my guy. He said he kept telling his friend to make sure he and his dad were all signed into the league. Then he said that one of the kids on the block said that he couldn’t be in because his parents didn’t want him to, for whatever reason. It was only and hour before the big game when Haden checked again and realized his friend’s family weren’t signed into our league.
I could barely stand to see the disappointment in his eyes. Worse, I came down to the kitchen later to find his Fantasy Football draft paper ripped into pieces and lying on the floor. And this is the moment I became the biggest proponent of fantasy football in the history of well, fantasy football.
I convinced him that I could easily find five more people to make the league happen. I was able to get my mom (I signed her up without her knowing), my dad, my brother-in-law, and my sweet sister who said she would do it too if we needed her. We did. We just needed one more.
Haden was ready to give up. I was not. There are times in parenting when you know it’s ok for your kids to experience disappointment, and even sometimes, pain. This was not one of those moments. A. He’s 11 and a boy and he loves football with his whole being. B. I was mad. C. I couldn’t imagine waiting an entire year to start this whole agonizing process again. So, as I often do, I jumped in.
I wasn’t able to make the first or second week of the Fantasy Football season. This last week, I knew there had to be someone who could be our last team. How hard is this people? So I sent out my plea on Facebook. And waited.
And then in the proverbial 11th hour, one of my friends said she would sign up and her husband could help her pick her team. If I could have hugged her I would have. Maria, you are so awesome!!!!! And then I thought, I’m done. I’ve saved the day, I’ve patched Haden’s little boy heart back together. Now he and his dad could take over.
No. That did not happen. Because I knew everyone I had recruited (willingly or not), I had to make sure they all were signed up with their own accounts and team names and were entered into our league of eight. Me. Possibly the least technology savvy person in our group. The one voted most likely to be easily frustrated very quickly when technology doesn’t do WHAT IT’S FREAKING SUPPOSED TO DO!! The one putting on a garage sale that same week. (These are time-consuming, messy, dirty, exhausting, mentally sapping events. Don’t do it unless you need the money.)
But I am Haden’s mom. I’m the one who cried when we learned about his food allergies at nine months, I knew the limitations he was going to face. I’m the one who held him night after night and read him tons of board books when he couldn’t go to sleep, or sleep through the night. I’m the one who baked him allergy friendly corn bread for his third grade class “thanksgiving”, and I’m the one who talked him through the painful way most of the kids acted about the taste of it. I’m the one who listens to his anxious thoughts and works to help him build the courage he needs to fight them.
It was up to me. So I asked my husband on Sunday for the league ID. He said, it’s somewhere on my computer. Okay I thought. So, we’ll just get everyone signed in by Wednesday, our draft day, so that we can officially start on the third week of the season. It wasn’t until Wednesday that I begged Mark one more time to please look for the ID. In about four minutes, he re-appeared with a printout containing the secret password. Seriously, I could have done without the three days of stress while waiting for this. But regardless, it was a relief. I sent it off to our teams and now our draft could commence.
Wednesday afternoon, my parents came over to draft their teams with Haden. While I tried to get some garage sale work done, I sat Haden down at this very laptop and said, here you go! Have fun! Except that he didn’t know what to do. I also did not know what to do. So I got to spend some special time googling how to do an offline draft. NFL.com: your draft is so un-user friendly. So un-navigable. So irritating. So it took me a half hour to find out that I still didn’t know how. Haden and my parents hand wrote their picks on a yellow lined pad of paper that my dad brought. Then I texted Mike and Angela, and my super friend Maria, and asked them to please text back their picks by that evening.
That night, I handed all the picks to my husband and Haden and asked them to get it done. Now. And I didn’t care who they picked for my team. By the way, that was the most fun part for me, picking my team name. Football Girl. I know. So clever. Maybe this would all be more interesting if I knew some of my players (thanks Mom for taking all of the Seahawks), or if I could design their uniforms and logo.
It was finished. Haden had his league. Some teams played Thursday. I had my garage sale. Today the Seahawks play Denver in a re-match of the “fake SuperBowl pre-season game”. Haden, Mark, Mike, my dad and my mom are all flying over to be there. I was ok with not going months ago. I’m not now.
I will be watching this real game with far more interest than I’ve viewed this Fantasy Football thing. But that’s the thing about love. You do things you don’t like to see the light come back to someones eyes. You do anything in your power to redeem seemingly hopeless situations. And you enter places you would never go on your own, just to walk through there with this one you love.
Haden’s advice for me about my fantasy team was this, “Mom, remember, it’s not about the team, it’s about the individual.” I hope someday when he remembers this crazy taped together fantasy league of 2014 that he will see that truth of that for himself.
9/23/14~Postscript: Ouch. I just revised several parts of this story. It was brought to my attention that parts of it were not necessarily fact, but just my emotions reacting. I never intend to use my words to hurt. And yet, sometimes they do. I’m thankful that I was called on this, and it gave me a chance to step back and re read this post with Jesus’ eyes. It hurt to see my mistakes; if there is anything I hate, it’s being on the wrong side of the gospel and the truth. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t catch this myself. It’s always my own insecurites and pain that prompt the blame(someone else) and shame(myself) game. And neither of those is what God wants us to play. I love words and stories so much, and I really hate when I’m imperfect, so this is a double yuck. I’ve apologized to the ones I hurt unfairly, and asked God to repair and redeem the damage I’ve done. Now I am again brought to the foot of the cross, humbled by my weakness and His grace, and asking him to tape back together the torn pieces of my paper containing my words.