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Sunday, June 17, 2012

(REAL) Men in the House: Happy Father's Day

I wrote this waaayyy back...back when the Tiger Woods scandal broke.  Back before I knew how bad the scandal would become.  I was frustrated that every time my kids turned on the TV, this is what they heard.  They have also heard about all kinds of other indiscretions and crimes by athletes since then.  I am aware that athletes aren't the only ones who fall and make mistakes.  I am aware that many regular old guys and gals around the neighborhood hurt their families and tarnish their reputations and they aren't reported by CNN.  I am immensely grateful that the mistakes I make won't make it to newspapers, tabloids and television reports. 

My little boys' walls are covered with posters of professional athletes.  I am resigned to the fact that they will continue to look to athletes as heroes and role models.  I know that it's easy to jump from admiring athletic accomplishments to admiring the whole person.  I know that I found that I, an adult woman, who knew that Woods was just a regular human being who could make mistakes like anyone else, was crushed by this news at the time.  This was my take years ago and I feel the same way now.  Looking to sports figures as heroes will happen.  I hope that I can reign in my boys'(and my) expectations, teach them lessons in human imperfection, consequence, repentance and forgiveness and show them that someone, who is not perfect, but is very worthy of their admiration, is right in front of their eyes.

From 2009:
First, of all let me say this:  Tiger Woods and his wife and his family are none of my business.  The fact that I, a stay-at-home mom in the suburbs, is even taking time out of my day to think about this, much less write about it, is a sad commentary not only on our celebrity-crazed, sports idol-worshiping, media-frenzied culture, but also, it is a sad commentary on me.  I am a wife and a mom with a busy job taking care of three little boys.  I know that I am not supposed to look to Tiger Woods or any other person I don’t know as a moral example.  But here I am writing about Tiger Woods.  So here goes.

Seriously, Tiger?  Seriously?  You, too?  I thought you were above it.  I really did.     I painted their rooms “little boy blue” and I wouldn’t have even cringed about tack holes and masking tape and crooked posters of you.  You worked hard.  You were serious.  You weren’t in the tabloids.  You did charity work.   You married a girl before she was pregnant and had two beautiful babies. I cheered for you every single time, no matter how many championships you had already won.   I thought you were such a classy guy.  You deserved to win again and again.  I know, I know:   I don’t really know you.  I’ve been duped by the whole celebrity worship thing.  But, seriously, Tiger?  You, too?

I know that you are human.  I know that humans make mistakes.  I know that this mistake shouldn’t cancel out the good you have done.  I know it’s not my right to judge you.  But, guess what?  I do make judgments everyday.  I’m a mom who is making judgments about what TV shows my kids watch, what music they listen to, which books they read and which people they spend their time reading about.  Now you are everywhere in the news and not for your golf game.  I am truly, truly sorry about that for you.  I’m sorry for your wife that you won’t be able to deal with this privately…not without some crazed woman like me who has gotten herself all wound up writing about this rather than planning her family’s dinner tonight or a million other things she needs to do.  Not without some group of 40something wives blasting you to their friends on Facebook.  We are the least of your problems and frankly, you are the least of mine. 

Let me just say, that kids will always look to athletes as role models.  My boys are athletes, so it’s going to happen.  That can be okay, but regular, old (Dads and) Moms, like me, we have a job to do.  We’ve got some men to raise: men of character, men of bravery, men of strength, men of God.   And we need someone to “man up”.  And we need to know where to look for that someone.  We mommies need to be careful when our boys are  looking to someone on TV or on a sports field that we don’t know to help us out.  We need to look around a little closer to home.   

So my job is to be my boys’ mother and to help them find out what kind of men they should be.  When we look for someone to “man up” in my family, we don’t need to look far.  I bet you don’t either.  When my 11 and 9 year old boys wake up at 6:45 am every single morning with eyes barely opened and bodies dragging down the stairs, they will continue as they do every single morning to turn on SportsCenter.  That is just something that is going to happen.  Now I will have to ask them to change the channel again and again whenever SportsCenter turns away from centering on sports and instead goes down a different road.  We’ll take the Tiger Woods poster down for now and while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and put that Rothlisberger jersey in the giveaway pile.  We will explain that sometimes these big, strong men that we see on tv act like confused little boys.  We will explain that we all have faults.  We will remind them that these athletes don’t have to answer to us, but that in our family we must answer to each other and to God.  We will ask them to remember that we never did know these people. 

I will remind them (and me) that we do know a real man. We don’t have a giant poster of him that we tore from a magazine.  He didn’t play college ball, but spent a lot of time in college taking his grandmother to play golf.  He gets up in the morning and puts on a suit and tie and goes to a job that doesn’t pop up in a lot of little boy dreams.   He doesn’t wear a jersey.  Well, sometimes, he does, but it generally has “George’s Pizza Joint” or some other such Little League sponsor written across the back of it, rather than his name.  He hits baseballs into a net squeezed into a suburban garage among skateboards and sleds and a lawnmower.  He teaches little boys about lining up and shaking hands at the end of the game.  He urges them to share the basketball and not to gloat about winning.  If one of his sons forgets to thank his coach after practice, said son owes him 20 push-ups.  He works hard and he loves Jesus.  Looking for someone to man up? We don’t need a poster. We’ll look around our house and I’ll bet you can too.  There is a man here and his name is Dad.

PS.  Dear Colt McCoy, winningest quarterback in college history*, favorite son of my home, the great state of Texas, and fellow alumnus of THE University of Texas:  We're big fans...BIG. My boys adore you.  You're making it fairly easy on me right now, kid.  Hang in there in the big, bad world of professional sports.  No pressure, buddy:) 

PPS.  Also, wishing a very, very, very Happy Father's Day to another man in my life who also happens to be  THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLDI LOVE YOU, DAD!

* of the winningest...whatever.

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