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This is New Jersey: Football Season


It’s that time of year where I flip flop between loving the sweet, cool air of autumn and mourning the long, lazy days of summer. Where I am happy to see my boys go back to school and where I miss the unscheduled, uncommitted, free form days the summer months allow. Soon the pool man cometh to cover the shimmering reflection in my back yard with a dirty olive drab blanket that will stare back at me for more months than my lovely pool is ever permitted. This is always the curtain call for summer. That and the beginning of football season.

Both my boys play football. My youngest son is a helmet with legs who spends the entire play trying to figure out who has the ball and then what to do if he ever gets to him. My eldest son is now a seasoned pro going into his fourth year. He’s a strapping sight at almost 5’3” still golden brown from our long days on the beach. My job in the fall is to sit on the sidelines and watch my boys collect bruises. It’s not easy for a mother. Our job is to protect, to make everything better. I know I am not alone. We bleacher moms hold our collective breath with every play and use every ounce of restraint to keep from jumping the chain link fence and decking the kid who just dared to touch our son. We scream, we shield our eyes, we wiggle in our seats and then finally, once the long hard battle has been fought, we take them home and make them macaroni and cheese and admire every bruise as they passionately describe how and where each one was acquired.

Football also brings with it a chance to connect with friends and family, which, given my love for entertaining, is the part I enjoy. Big pots of chili on the stove, listening to the men recap every play of the game while the kids have moved on to more important things like video games and street hockey. Moms sit back and relax, finally, thankful to be out from under our anxious hours on high alert. From August to November, we ride the tide of Pop Warner Football. Like the families who have come before us and the families who will follow, why we do it is a mystery. For love of the sport? Perhaps, but for me, it’s the chili.

Originally written by Deborah Smith, 2008

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