Rock stars

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am not a sports fan, not by a long shot. I am not even a bandwagon fan.

I don’t like to watch sports, and I don’t want to listen to them (those announcers really bug me). There is nothing about sports that remotely interests me, although I do have to admit that I get a kick out of the folks who call in to sports radio – they are a hoot.

And I’ll admit to trying to learn more about sports early in our marriage, but Pat could sense my heart wasn’t in it and let me off the hook.

So, I surprised myself when I realized that one of the activities I will miss most when my son graduates from high school in June is attending his games.

For the past 15 years, a good deal of my life was organized around youth and then high school sports. I have worked as a volunteer, begged people for money, been a coach’s wife, and sat my butt on countless bleachers, beach chairs and blankets. My children have played soccer, football, baseball, softball, lacrosse (boys and girls). My son has played on elite teams, club teams, town teams and high school teams.

That’s a lot of games.

It has been one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of being a parent. It has also given me a front row seat to interact with other parents. And let me tell you I have seen just about every kind of parent, coach and official there is to be seen.

Are there dopes involved? Yup, you betcha.

The coach who is only there for their own kid or their own ego – check.

The officials who think people come to see them – check.

Parents who only cheer for their own or, worse, against another – check.

Once I saw a parent follow a high-school-age umpire to his car, yelling at how he missed this call and that call. It was a Little League game. Little League! Switch to decaf or Quaaludes, dude. Seriously, check yourself. I’m sure the only way your little Jimmy will make it to “The Show” is as a season ticket holder.

Parents like this are at fields and arenas all over the country, and they suck up all the attention and cast a pall. But they do not tell the whole story, the real story.

They certainly do not tell my story or define my experience.

My experience has been mostly positive, and I am in awe of how much some parents give to the effort of youth and high school sports.

I’ve been lucky to meet some incredible and generous people. They show up at games and cheer on all the players. They share blankets and chairs. They host team dinners. They organize dinners for away games. They bring homemade ice cream sandwiches to games and hand them out – even if the kids lose.

Those parents are not me – well, except the sharing part. I am pretty good at sharing.

In order to be more inclusive, let me expand this to the non-sports parents out there as well: band parents and drama parents and any other parent that invests not just their money but their time into watching, encouraging and cheering their children on.

Stand up folks (grandparents and aunts and uncles, too) and take a bow. You are – every one of you – rock stars!

I want to thank you for cheering for my child when my schedule didn’t allow me to be at a game.

I want to thank you for opening your homes to feed all those very hungry non-salad eating boys for team dinners.

I want to thank you for checking in after injuries.

Most of all, I want to thank you for making me love a sport.

I have to go now. I think I have something in my eye…

Originally published in the Old Colony Memorial, May 21, 2014 and on wickedlocal.com/plymouth, May 22, 2014

wickedlocallarge

Happily Ever After (Originally published to Plymouth Patch May 16, 2012)

A constitutional amendment to take away people’s rights – not the America I believe in. ~ Carol O’Brennan

What the hell is wrong with people?

Seriously? That’s not a rhetorical question. Okay, maybe it is a little.

Did a certain portion of this country sleep through the last forty years? Have they learned nothing from history? Back then we were fighting over color instead of gender. Guess what? Nothing they predicted has happened. Nothing. The world did not go spinning off its axis, hurtling toward the sun, to punish the sinners and miscegenators. God did not smite anyone. People of all colors and nationalities have been getting happily married and the world did not end.

Just as nothing will happen when same-sex couples are allowed to marry.

Listen, hate anyone you want but do it quietly, in your own home. Do not bring it to the public square for if you do, you will be held up and reviled as the bigot you are. Do not hide your hate behind your religion; it’s cowardly. Do not wrap yourself up in righteousness and argue that intolerance is a family value. It’s not.

Love is a family value and it should be encouraged and nurtured whenever possible. Celebrated. If we loved more and judged less, the world would be a much better place. Seriously, maybe you should try it.

Marriage has evolved over time. If you did not, then too bad for you. You don’t get to hold the rest of us back. For most, marriage is no longer about rival clans settling a dispute or an attempt to negotiate a merger or prevent a war. It’s not about gaining an extra pair of hands to work the farm or to acquire land or wealth.

Modern marriage is about love and making a life with a partner you choose.

Every marriage is unique. It has its own goals, its own hopes and dreams. I have been married for close to two decades and my marriage has matured and changed over that time. It has experienced happiness and sadness, regret and remorse. It has been both suffocating and liberating. It has been hard work but it has been totally worth it.

When I think about my life and my marriage and the joy and the balance that it brings me, I can’t imagine denying it to anyone and certainly not because they love someone with the same parts. Preventing people from achieving personal happiness is a much greater transgression than any sin you can manufacture to repudiate it. I feel a little sorry for those who can’t see that.

By refusing to recognize marriage as a right for all, we are, in essence telling every bully, bigot and would-be thug that it’s ok to single people out if they’re different from you or if they deviate from your cultural norm. That there exists in America, in the 21st century, a lesser class of American; Americans that can be denied the basic human dignity of deciding whom they want to make a life with; who to love.

I’m going to say this once and I’m going to say it slowly: Every single consenting adult has the absolute right to love the person of their choosing. They have the right to live their lives without interference from bullies and bigots.

They have the right to get married. Not civil unioned. Not gay married. Not same-sex married. Just married.

As in Happily Ever After married.

Just like me.

A Mother’s Way (Originally published to Plymouth Patch May 2012)

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle ~ Proverb

As mothers, we share the honor and responsibility for raising the future. It is up to us to advocate for the best interests of our children. It also means that if a child does not have a mother who can support them – for whatever reason – the imperative then falls to us, the moms who can.
I’d like to focus attention, however briefly; on the one issue that I believe is the most important opportunity we have to impact the lives of all children, everywhere. It crosses all boundaries.
Education
We, as a country, need to reaffirm our commitment to quality public education. We also need to reaffirm our commitment to teachers.
Teachers are an integral part of education and they should be treated like partners. Recruiting and retaining smart, dedicated educators by making teaching an attractive and viable profession needs to start with a living wage. We need to stop making them the enemy and vilifying them as lazy and unproductive. Do bad teachers exist? Sure. But so do bad doctors and plumbers and parents.
Advocating for education is not a one-time deal. We will need to do it loudly and often. Investing in public education is not just about money. It’s about taking what works in the classroom and tweaking what doesn’t. We need to create partnerships in the community between parents and educators. We need to dedicate our time and talents as mentors and role-models. We need to empower teachers to spend more time teaching the fundamentals and less time “teaching to the test” and cowering in a corner practicing lockdowns.
I am not an expert on education or education reform. I am, however, a pretty keen observer and I trust what I see.
I was able to spend a lot of time in the classroom when my kids were in elementary school and I saw amazing things happen when teachers are able to develop relationships with their students. I have watched as children began to master near impossible tasks come away with increased self-esteem and greater confidence. Children, when encouraged to try in a supportive environment, will try, even if they fail. They begin to understand that learning is a process, a joy.
I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone will agree with me on this issue. Honestly, I don’t really care. I dare anyone to tell me that investing less in education is the best policy.
I’m not suggesting I have all the answers.
I don’t. But there are people, people smarter than me, who study education and understand how to fix it. We need to let them fix it but we need to make sure we continue to pay attention so things don’t get off track or completely derailed.
Reforming our education system will not come without a fight and progress will be frustratingly slow. It could, potentially, take a generation or more of reinvestment and reinvention of our public schools before significant gains are achieved. This is a long fight and it is not for the faint-hearted.
Together, we can change the world.
How cool is that?