Category Archives: Fatherhood

How My Husband Raised an Eagles Fan Born in the South

Growing up, I knew no other team than the Redskins. In fact, for a long time I thought they must play the Blueskins, the Grayskins, the Greenskins. I heard a lot of words I shouldn’t have heard and I learned to stay away from the den on Sunday afternoons. There was always a lot of screaming and cheering and the beating of hands on my dad’s old recliner.

If I had a favorite team, the Redskins was it. It was all I ever knew.

My dad walked me down the aisle only because I didn’t marry a Cowboys fan. My husband-to-be rooted for the Eagles, a true born-and-bred fan from Philly who watched the team lose its only Super Bowl appearance at that point in 1981.

When we had our son in North Carolina in 2003 and Eagles onesies started rolling in, I told my husband it was just possible our son could be a Panthers fan. I wanted to plant that seed early. I didn’t want him to get his hopes up.

Through those early years, my son changed favorite teams as often as he changed his favorite color. He liked the Buccaneers, the Titans, the Jaguars, and the Vikings. He liked nearly every team but the Eagles. He’d get excited about football on Sunday afternoons. His dad put game gear on—the same shirt and socks with holes in each foot—and pumped up spirits with “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!” My son seemed excited about the prospect of watching football, watching TV. But ten minutes in, he climbed off the couch and found something else to do.

More than anything, my husband just wanted my son to watch football with him. “Be careful what you wish for,” I told him.

My husband told my son stories of staying up late watching Eagles football when he was a kid. He told him about crying when the Eagles lost the Super Bowl. He was in third grade at the time. He told him stories about the infamous crowd and how they were known for booing Santa one year.

It wasn’t until around second grade that my son started to pay attention to football. Each year he’d watch the games a bit longer, snuggled into his dad’s arm. Every whistle blown, every flag thrown, my son asked why. Every player down, every player on the bench, my son asked why. Every player’s name, every player’s stats, my son wanted to know how was that spelled again and where is he from? How much does he weigh? What team did he play on before this one?

I’d chuckle in the corner as my husband tried to watch the game and hear the commentators and refs.

During every halftime, every commercial if he had it his way, my son grabbed a football and asked his dad to go outside. He had to play his own version of a game.

The next morning, the first thing my son would ask was the score from the late game. In the car he’d ask me how to spell a player’s name or who I thought would make it to the playoffs. Did I know it was Ronnie Brown’s birthday? My husband had created a monster.

Over time my son began to favor the Eagles, wearing the jersey his grandparents gave him to school every Monday after they played, talking trash with the other kids about their favorite teams.

Now after school, I’m the fill-in for Dad. I can throw a pretty long spiral and it’s only taken two years to get there. My son is a pretty tough coach.

He mentioned the other day that he dreamed the Eagles won the Super Bowl. He keeps up with their stats and thinks they have a good shot at the playoffs this year. Nick Foles is doing pretty well.

He still watches every game on Sunday with his dad. He still asks a million questions. He still knows everyone’s name. Now he keeps an Eagles roster. And he still goes outside to throw the ball around with his dad during breaks. He wears his lucky Eagles jersey, shorts, socks, and underwear when they play. It’s been working, knock wood.

My husband didn’t create a monster. He created a fan. And a bond.

football

Down here, my son gets questioned a lot about why he is an Eagles fan. The answer is always “because of my dad.”

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Forty Is Just a Number

My husband turns 40 this week. He’s not thrilled about his milestone four decades of life. I think he feels kind of old, lost his youth, you know. If he drives up in a convertible and I have to put up with ten years of a midlife crisis, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Go along for the ride? As long as there isn’t a blonde in the passenger seat, I think I can handle a little change.

I’ve just never cared much about age. Forty doesn’t scare me, but I’m not quite there yet either. I still have two years (one and a half) until I say good-bye to my thirties, and they’ve been really good to me. Maybe by then I will be a weepy, wrinkly, achy mess.

For most of my adult life, I haven’t been able to remember my age. Twenty-something. Twenty-three, no seven? After I was legal, I really didn’t care. Now that I have kids who can speak and who are good in math, they don’t let me forget. “No, you’re 38.”turning 40

I think having kids helps me maintain a youthful spirit. When you play chase in the yard, pretend you’re Padme Amidala, immerse yourself in dolls and Harry Potter, and hear fart talk 24/7, it rubs off on you. My dad always says, “You’re as old as you feel,” and I agree. I look forward to a Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Little House book as much as my kids do. I let my spirit decide my age. The actual number can’t get me down.

But seeing my husband as he approaches 40, living with someone almost as youthful as I am who plays with the kids and lives this same life, I’m starting to see his perspective. I’m starting to get it, to feel it.

My mind may still feel young but my body is aging whether I want it to or not. Every winter now, my joints swell and ache. My fingers become stiff and the morning cold greets my body with a shock of reality. I’m sure it’s arthritis but I don’t want to take a multi-pill regimen every day. I’m too young for a day-of-the-week pill pack.

My eyes deceive me. For the rest of my life, I will always hear the story of the time I pointed up to the tree at the zoo and told my kids to look at the pretty bird. It happened to be a red panda, and I happened to be the butt of many jokes that day.

I fall asleep on the couch on Friday nights mouth gaping, tongue lolling, and mumble “I’m awake” from time to time. I’m cold from August through June. I always need a lap blanket because it’s so darn chilly. As I sweep the hair off the bathroom floor every morning, I wonder who will go bald first—my husband or me. It looks like we’re both regular contributors.

I hope once 40 passes, it will be just another number to my husband, to me. I hope it won’t crush my spirit, and loud music and Star Wars will always be fun. I hope my husband and I get a second wind and embarrass our teenagers by staying out late, holding hands, and partying too much.

But regardless of what we do, how old we really are, and what time we go to bed, I’m glad we spend all of our birthdays together. It will lessen the sting when 90 approaches.

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Good Dads Need to Be Celebrated

While my kids don’t have the perfect dad, he’s pretty darn close. And I’m not sure whether they know it. It’s one of those things they may not know until they have kids of their own. But one day they’ll know.

Along my blogging way, I’ve met many dads who feel that fatherhood is shortchanged. Good dads need to be celebrated.

My husband is one of those dads. Although I usually write about my experiences as a mom, today I’m going to talk about him. I usually write about my decisions as a parent, but the truth is, he’s the other half of my team. I only give my side of the story. I couldn’t do my part without his.

1. From the moment my son was born, my husband dove into fatherhood. He took an entire month off work to be with his newborn son. Paternity leave. At night we took shifts on the couch with pillows propped precariously so we could get some sleep, the only thing that worked. Warming bottles of formula and changing a soiled diaper became an Olympic two-person sport at which we became adept in our sleep-deprived fury.

2. Night-time wakings have cursed this house for many years. As soon as our babies cried out, my husband’s feet hit the floor and he zipped across the hall before I had even sat up and opened my eyes. I’d walk in to find him already rocking and shushing. Never did my husband complain that this getting up in the night business was my job.

3. He has slept countless nights on our kids’ floors when they couldn’t fall back to sleep, covered around only his torso with a thin baby blanket and using a stuffed animal as a pillow if that’s all that was available.

4. He plays with the kids every evening after dinner, whether it’s wrestling, tag, a card game, catch, hide-and-seek, kickball, or just taking a walk. Every night he is a family man first, human playground second.

5. While I tend to act like a 10-year-old 90 percent more often than he does, he always makes dinner more lively when he tries to lick his plate when no one is looking or keeps a serious face when he sticks his smelly foot in your face and asks, “Hey, does my foot stink?” It’s the element of surprise that gets us every time.

6. He doesn’t always let the kids win. If you play a game with him, you’re on your own. My kids will be better for it when they’re older, though right now I don’t think they’d agree.

7. He does my daughter’s hair in the morning and lets her pick out her clothes because if I do it, the morning starts out in tears. When he does it, fits of giggles echo down the hall.

8. He doesn’t miss a game, a practice, a play, anything. Though I don’t need to reveal our sideline conversations. The kids should never hear those.

When we have a rough time in our small family, my husband and I get through it and then we laugh. There’s no one else I’d want to muddle through parenthood with.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there who are their family’s heroes.

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