September 15, 2016

Football, Concussions, and Parenting

It would have been great if we could have made it just a few more weeks (or longer… longer would have been great, too) into football season without a concussion. But here we are, sitting in a room with no light, no stimuli, and no fun, while Tucker recovers from a fall and blow to the head at Tuesday night’s practice.

*** 

Dear people who worry about concussions and therefore hate youth football:

I know. I hear you.

I read your emails, I see your text messages, and I hear it in your voice. Concussions are serious situations, and we’re taking this seriously. He’s been seen by his doctor, he’s on bed rest and brain rest, and we’re entering slowly and cautiously into the thinking world.design

Also, football is in my son’s blood just like writing is in mine. He’s going to play whether he’s on a team or not, whether I endorse it or not, and whether I want him to or not. So I’m embracing reality, getting him the training and coaching he needs, and allowing margin in our lives for a recovery like this one. 

“But you should take him off the team,” some say. 

“But that would crush his spirit in ways you can’t understand,” I say.

Also, this particular concussion could have happened with any sport, since he fell backward and wasn’t involved in any kind of tackle or helmet-to-helmet contact.

Also, there is more concussion awareness than ever before, both on the field and off.

Also, I can’t protect him from everything.

It is no small thing to love a football player.

Thank you for your love and concern and concussion awareness. For now, under the advisement of doctors, coaches, and the conversations of my marriage, my kid will stay on the team.

All the love,

t.

***

There. With that said, let’s move on, please.

One of the best things about my job is that sometimes I get to read and endorse works of art that will later become bound books on shelves, and now they are piles of paper and thousands of words strung together with careful planning and design. They will later be out in bookstores and the world, and I get to hold them while they are still in utero. On a few books in the world, my name is on the back with words that say something like, “You should read this. It’s good.” (Although far more eloquent and specific and inviting and intriguing.)

I have the pleasure right now of reading the pre-printed version of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline, by Catherine McNiel. It’s coming out in March, and I can already tell you that it’s a nugget of goodness for moms. (I almost said ‘young moms’ or ‘moms of small children,’ but here I am reading it while my son is needing great patience and care, and this book is holding my weary self together.)

Here’s the quote I needed today:

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control—we may not realize it, but a harvest is being formed in our souls as we ebb and flow through sleepless nights and chaotic days. Just as certainly and invisibly as the seeds in my garden somehow turn into carrots and potatoes out of sight, below the surface, our spirits are being formed in the secret corners of motherhood.”

Yes. This.

I’m in that place of having my tall boy beside me, day in and day out, during nighttime watch and daytime healing. (And he's hungry all.the.time.)  It’s a quotient of quality time that he and I haven’t done in a while. In some ways, it’s precious and sweet and fleeting. And in other ways, it’s just a lot for both of us. So when I don’t have a few moments today to spend in the ways I planned (or wanted) (or needed), I bring these words to mind.

Motherhood, by its very constant nature, is a spiritual discipline.

This dark family room, where my child and I are letting his precious brain heal, is the place where love grows.

4 comments on “Football, Concussions, and Parenting”

  1. I hear you! My 16 year old grandson is the same way, but has had several concussions. I'm terrified, but I still am his biggest fan and go and cheer my head off... I've been advocating bubble wrap for decades, since my oldest son played. Anyway, I can understand where you are and how it is. Keep praying. That's all I know for sure. ( and all the rest of the other stuff, too.) blessings...

  2. Ouch! Well, one (optimistic) way to look at this is, he's getting it over with early... May all heal well, and soon, and may you all get through this season with hearts and minds intact. (And I once again give thanks that you were given a second teammate.)

  3. I, too, am a "concussion" mom! I know the process all too well. My son also BREATHES football!! (I highly recommend Rocky Mountain Concussion Center)
    All we can do is pray! Pray for healing. Praying for safety! Pray for our boys' heart and love of the game! Then let Him do His work!

  4. I love the way you meet folks head-on ( didn't mean to use a pun with Tucker on brain rest for his concussion!) For the past several years I have marveled at the way you have been a single mom to two boys and were able to bare your soul while you were healing from Rob's sudden death. Then I have loved getting to watch you absolutely glow from new love and roles of mom and wife yet again. Thanks for always being honestly transparent.
    I also love the quote from the book you are previewing!
    And just so you don't forget, "the days are long, but the years are short!"

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