Limping Into the End Zone

Limping Into the End Zone
The end of sports season can feel so very draining. (Stock photo)

It's that time of the year again.

Not Pumpkin Spice Latte season.

Not gorging-on-Halloween-candy-stolen-from-my-children season.  

Not finally-giving-up-on-this-year's-New-Year's-resolutions-season (because it's obvious that there is not enough of this year left to make it happen).

Not even long-walks-enjoying-fall-colors-season.

Though it is, indeed, all of these things, I've come to think of this season differently. For me, it's cheering-for-the-other-team-because-I'm-so-over-football-that-I-don't-even-want-my-kid's-team-to-make-it-to-the-playoffs-season.

As a Must-Have Parent with a deployed partner, that's the season I'm in right now, and I'm guessing there are at least a few of you out there who can relate.

We started this football season strong. Motivated. Inspired. We charged into blistering hot two-and-a-half-hour practices three times a week. We bought giant water bottles and decorated them. We agonized over picking the perfect mouthpiece, barely even flinching at the cost. (These teeth are permanent now, after all.)

Parents snapped photographs of everything.

"Look! He! Caught! The! Ball!" That sort of enthusiasm, but with more exclamation points.

This many: !!!

No, this many: !!!!!!

Maybe even this many: !!!!!!!!!!

My son's team has a parent who is a professional photographer and, after every game, she posts hundreds of pictures to the team Shutterfly account. Because the team has one of those.

Earlier in the season, I scrolled through every last one of those pictures every week because, honestly, is there anything more adorable than little boys in giant shoulder pads?

And, actually, there is. Little girls in cheerleader outfits. With big bows. And pom-poms.

I have a football player and a cheerleader out on that field this year, and the adorableness of every Saturday just about gave me cavities -- for the first month.

But now the season is almost over. The novelty -- like the markers we used for those water bottles -- has long since worn off. The sideline of every game now looks like a physical therapy office, with injured players limping in on crutches and arms in casts.

The players, incidentally, look a far sight better than the parents. We hobble to our places, too, exhausted by the weight of our folding chairs and our soft-sided coolers. Like a herd of refugees clinging to Starbucks cups under our baseball caps, we set up our tents.

We scarcely look up from our phones as the game progresses. The snack list has been abandoned. The dramas of weeks ago -- ones centered around playing time and positions -- are long since forgotten. Now, like first-time marathoners limping through mile 20, we just want it to be over. And soon.

Two games ago, one of the cheerleaders (OK, it was my daughter) set her pom-poms down in the 4th quarter and announced to the crowd in her best "Duh" voice: "We're going to lose." And everyone just shrugged.

Some of the parents have already started talking basketball, their faces lighting up with excitement for the coming season. They talk of coaches and players, bright hopes for a winning season.

I'm not falling for it.

I smile and nod and say it sounds like fun, but what I'm really thinking is how great it's going to be to spend my Saturdays sleeping in ... until soccer season starts.

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Family and Spouse Parenting