It seems to me that merely sitting for 2 hours on the bleachers, watching lacrosse…should be easy; relaxing even. But somehow that is not how it actually feels. My adrenalin rushes when they score, my heart plummets when they lose the ball and my body experiences a heightened sense of being suspended in mid air as scores remain close. It is the polar opposite of relaxing.
I understand consciously that this is not my game. That I am not on the field. That I am not the one playing and that I have had little to do with the athletic talent of my son. I remind myself that it is a game. And that someone will win and someone will lose…
Yet somehow that is not enough coaching to keep my emotions in check. I find myself holding my own head with only seconds remaining, trying to visualize us with the ball, with our team hurling it into the goal one more time. I scream again “Go White!” as if they need my coaching, as if I fear they will stop giving it all they have; as if they need my help; as if they are actually we.
I remind myself that they have a coach and they will do their best because they do want to win! I remind myself that this is not actually our team, as I have done nothing to get them this far. I try to sit back comfortably as the time out is called. I inhale deeply and get myself together. I begin to talk myself into the fact that I should relax and simply watch the kids play. After all, it is just a game, isn’t it? As I glance at the clock, I decide I should head to the restrooms so I can regroup…but when I look at the clock again, I am compelled to skip the break as my brain taunts that I will not have enough time. That I will miss something…
Then suddenly I am right there again as the game goes back into play. My voice rattling off my cheers, clapping, trying to stay positive and hopeful…but all the while begging the universe to just let them win the game. Begging to see this senior year end with our team yelling with excitement and exasperation at being champs. Yes, that is what I wanted…us to be the champions.
The game goes into overtime and I wonder how anyone can play under this kind of pressure. I can barely sit in the stands just knowing what is at stake. First to score…wins. Really? How about 2 out of 3? Seems so drastic. One fatal move and the other team scores and wins. But they don’t cower under the pressure; instead they keep the pressure on and keep playing. My skin hurts, my head feels as if it’s going to explode and the pounding of my heart seems to radiate my whole body, making me feel queasy.
Thirty-five seconds to go and I am begging for the game to be over, as I can’t take the tension anymore…and then finally, the assist, the goal…and the win. Sticks go flying, kids go running towards each other as if just realizing how much they love one another. Moms in the stands are cheering, hugging…and even crying.
It is only then that I sit back and breathe, wondering if calling out sick tomorrow was out of the question. I feel exhausted and energized all at the same time and I quickly scramble to figure out why my emotions run so deep. Clearly this is not my game, my team, or my efforts, so why was I leaving the field like I had played the game of my life?
But then, as I see my son walk off the field, looking a bit like a wounded soldier, I realize why. That is my baby. Ok, so that is my baby plus 18 years…but he will forever be an extension of me. I am mindful that this kind of cheering from the sidelines, yearning for his successes, his happiness, his efforts to match his rewards, has been an ongoing experience since the day I saw him take his first few steps. I feel his struggles and his accomplishments like they are mine, not because they are, nor because I am so sure I have anything to do with them, but because I brought him into this world 18 years ago with big hopes and dreams of who he would be…while secretly praying every night for his happiness.
So yes, I am just another overly excited parent from the sidelines hoping to feel some false illusion of control, but in the end, I am really just a mom, desperate to see her son happy.