I am certain that there are a number of people who wonder what is wrong with me during football season. I will be honest, I have dropped the ball a few times (even as I type this I hear “The ball is the program!!” so I know how critical these mistakes are!) and I have drifted through the past 4 weeks trying to find a sense of routine and normal life. But you see, the college football scheduling gods made it a little complex this year. We started our season off with 3 Friday night games. In a row. As a high school football coach’s daughter, you know my brain reserves those Friday Night Lights for high school ball (and Tim Riggins, of course.) Our football season weeks are structured pretty tightly around Saturday game day. I was completely thrown off.
During football season I make cookies for the offensive linemen. I always have. That happens on Game Week Wednesday. On Wednesday nights we meet Nick out for a late dinner. On Game Week Thursday I typically host a group of Football Grad Assistants for Chili and watching a Thursday night game on tv. But not this season. You see, when Game Day is a Friday that means Game Week Wednesday is on a Tuesday and Chili Night Thursday adjusts to Wednesday night. (When there is rarely a good football game on tv this early in the season. Although call me mid-season when MACtion starts…you know I could watch a Ball State game midweek with the best of them! )
And when Thursday night is on a Wednesday night that means I wake up from hosting Chili Night to TWO MORE DAYS of school for my kids. Followed, of course by a late night football game that will continue to mess with their schedules. Are you confused yet? Wondering what I am talking about? This is how I felt for the first three weeks. And add to that my oldest son’s first year of travel baseball and weekend tournaments and Lily’s fall softball team, and I’ve reached max brain capacity. Oh, and the girls all dance. And my very extroverted 5th child wants to talk to me ALL DAY LONG. From his bed. Through the bathroom door. While I’m talking. So many words.
But now we’ve settled into Saturday football. Into ACC football. And I am trying to get things straightened out in our lives. As I walked out the door a few weeks ago, on my way to a big game, a friend of mine texted to ask if one of my girls could attend a birthday party for her daughter. I had the presence of mind to respond asking if I could respond with a reliable answer after the game, when I could think. And then I completely forgot. It wasn’t until the following weekend, when my daughter mentioned being excited about the party, that I realized I had messed up. I told her I was so sorry but there was no way I could respond on the party day and potentially throw her parents’ plans off. I am still pretty embarrassed by this ball drop.
In addition to trying to figure out what day it is, there is a very odd part of football season that I’m never quite prepared for. I have no idea how to talk about it to anyone else. My children, sure. Other coaches, yes. The coaches’ wives, of course. But regular people: friends, strangers, acquaintances…I have no idea. I grew up around post game interviews and being careful to avoid bulletin board material. I have had my feelings hurt by well intentioned (or not-so-well intentioned) encounters. And so sometimes someone will ask me something reasonable, or share excitement about the outcome of a game, and I just look at them trying to think of what a correct response would be. I’m pretty fiercely protective of this team, these players, and know how they pour themselves into every aspect of this game. (My husband would reference a few instances in the stands on game days that have resulted in a good story to tell later, and the occasional summoning of the security staff.) For this reason I don’t know how to respond when someone tells me they are cheering for our opponent. I don’t know how to respond when someone is critical. I don’t know how to respond when people ask me specific questions about games or players. Or, rather, I know how to respond. I don’t know how to respond politely. So sometimes I’m quiet, or I avoid the conversation, or the social situation all together. This is especially hard because after a win I really want to spend the entire 24 hours that follow talking about it. Thank goodness for social media and highlight videos.
So after four weeks, I’m doing my best to get in that football mind space…but it was a bit of a tough start mentally. The reality is, the kids were awesome at the night games, and this past Saturday we were all reminded just how HOT noon games in September can be. But today is Thursday. Real, true to the calendar, Thursday. There is chili in the crock pot and cookies were handed out this morning, and when the team heads up to Boston I will be prepared for a Saturday 3:30 start. But if you’ve run into me over the past month and thought, “huh, that was odd.” I promise I will do better!