Just When You Think You’ve Turned a Corner

Football, Kids, Children at Football Game

I’m not in Charlottesville today – I should be, had plans and wanted to be. It doesn’t matter that Virginia is 0-3 and is a three-point underdog at home today. It doesn’t matter that it’s a 12:30 pm kick off which makes tailgating short. If James were alive, I would be there already, cocktail in hand.

But James isn’t here, and it’s Youth Day.

Youth Day is when college football programs invite families to partake in the festivities. Earlier kickoffs, and lots of family-friendly fun before and during the game, and usually an easier opponent. On the schedule for Virginia (0-3) are the Central Michigan Chippewas (3-0) who have taken down Oklahoma State and are again a field goal favorite over Virginia at home.

But that isn’t the reason I’m missing the game.

The reason is that the tiny humans didn’t want to go.

This past week I was gearing up for my first time taking the tiny humans to a game by myself. I was concerned about how I was going to sneak one in my section (it’s Youth Day, and we’re a losing team, so there is probably room). I was worried about what I was going to do if one of them needed to go to the bathroom (I have several close friends who sit next to and near to me that would have watched one kid while I took the other).

What I didn’t worry about, what I didn’t think about was what to do when they didn’t want to go.

Thursday night my son came into my room in tears – because he didn’t want to disappointment, he wanted to be strong – but he misses his dad and going to a football game, especially at Virginia reminds him too much of daddy. And what I’ve noticed about my children is that when one feels something, the other feels it too.

They miss daddy.

A few weeks ago I attended my first UVa game without James. It was challenging and I had a ton of support. I’m not sure why I didn’t consider that the first football game for the kids would be equally challenging.

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People ask me all the time “how are the children.” For the most part, they are good, because kids live in the moment. They see what they need right in front of them, and they don’t worry too much about the future.

But when my usually okay kids are in tears the mom in me has to listen.

We’re home on this game day – which is probably better because I have a lot to do, and they seem super happy. But, I want them to go to games, I want them to love gameday – because their father and I loved it so much.

I’m not sure how to handle this unexpected roadblock. I didn’t expect them to link football with their dad so much.  And in my struggle with my grief screaming at football games feels so freaking good.

It’s like trying to turn a team around like Mendenhall needs to do for Virginia. He arrived with a football program at the rock bottom, and he started with psychological goals. Working on discipline, drive, and a new mental outlook. It’s why when we lost so badly to Richmond that it took me back because I believed the hype.

Like I thought my children had turned a corner with the loss of their father.

Unless you’ve dealt with your child grieving, please don’t offer advice – and don’t tell me how stupid I am to assume that the kids are moving at the same pace. Fuck I still miss my husband, I miss him during days like this because my children miss him so much. No amount of mommy will replace daddy – it just isn’t possible. If I feel his loss so much how can two people who were made by him not feel it even more intensely?

They got less than a decade of their father – it’s so fucking unfair I can’t stand it.



About the author, Ramona

Single mom trying to figure out her own sports fandom on her own terms. She writes and podcasts about what it means to be a sports fan.

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