When we were growing up, our mother often told my sister Abby and me how stupid she thought football was. She wondered what the point was of people chasing a ball down a field and jumping on one another. She said that she did not have time for this kind of nonsense…but she found the “sport” of hassling others about their devotion to specific teams a great way to spend her time.
Abby and I enjoyed going to our high school’s football games, as much for the hanging out with friends part as the actual watching and cheering on our team.
Years later, while she was living in California, Mother suddenly announced to Abby and I how much she enjoyed watching football. My sister and I were flabbergasted. But this was after she had married Husband Number Three, Tom, who was almost as huge a football fan as he was a perpetual barfly.
Still, in regards to my mother and her new-found love of the pigskin, at the time of this announcement I was both surprised and morbidly curious. I could not let it go.
I asked her. Not surprisingly, her answer was some fictional piece of art indicating that she had enjoyed the game all of her life.
Next, I asked what teams she rooted for. She quickly responded in an indignant tone that I should know exactly what teams she cheered on. As my sister and I had basically been estranged from our mother for years, and we had been laboring under the belief that she still hated football, I don’t know how I should have known that.
We proceeded with the conversation about her new favorite sport. Mother and Tom primarily watched college football, and their favorite team was Notre Dame. I should have known! As she went on to explain it, my quasi-Catholic Mother felt that somehow she was being favored by God for following Notre Dame football.
Mother once again had mixed up her religious side with her “Yes I will even watch football if it means I can get a man” side. Kind of foreign to the thinking of my sister Abby and I. We have never depended on a man to take care of all our needs, nor do we bend our personalities to manipulate or trick a man into loving us.
We love our significant others (Charles and John, respectively) with all our hearts and they love our independent spirits. John loves football and Abby does not. He sometimes goes to NFL and amateur games while she spends time with her friends doing anything but watching football!
This conversion in Mother’s passions was one of many we saw throughout her life. And through it, she inadvertently taught us another valuable lesson. Never give up your own passions just so you can get a man; and never let yourself become so wrapped up in something or someone else that you lose the core of who you really are.
This weekend, watch the Super Bowl if you enjoy that. Root for your favorite team, or just for a good game. If you watch only for the half-time show and commercials, like a lot of people do, that’s okay too. My sister and I are sure that our mother enjoyed raising up her “special glass” filled with hard liquor just as much (if not more) than the football she so “enjoyed” watching.