He wants the Broncos to win. Always. Every game; every time. And because the kids and I love him, we want them to win too. But sometimes the Broncos lose. When they do, we are sad. At least the kids and I are sad; my husband is downright despondent.
While a football game loss is always frustrating, at least it’s definitive. The team that scores the most points wins. The team that scores fewer points loses. Period. Thankfully, most years, the Broncos pull off a winning season, and my husband can take comfort in the fact that his beloved team won more games than they lost.
Motherhood, however, is not so definitive. Often, I feel as though I’m winning and losing simultaneously. I might be doing something great for one child or in one situation, while I’m completely neglecting another one of my kids or avoiding a pressing parenting issue.
Let me show you how it works.
I am on the computer signing up my youngest daughter for the dance class she’s been begging to join for weeks – win.
At the same time, my oldest son is huddled in a heap on the living room floor, blubbering over a lost Lego piece I promised I would help him find – loss.
The baby is sound asleep, well-fed, and freshly changed – win.
Yet my oldest daughter is taking advantage of my distraction to slip in a video game session when she should be finishing her homework – loss.
The weekly school papers have been reviewed and signed – win, and still the pantry is bare, leaving very few options for tomorrow’s sack lunches – loss.
The cycle continues.
While the wins and losses tend to even out most of the time, it’s hard to feel great about my mothering in the extremes of the concurrent experiences. It’s hard to take a win with so many losses in the mix.
And the overwhelming part about the wins and losses in my life is that I’m not just a mother. I’m a wife, I’m an employee, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a friend, and I’m a member of several different communities. I win and lose simultaneously in all of these arenas as well.
So how do I find my winning season? How do I find ease in my skill as a mother when I can’t deny the many losses I encounter along the way?
Tom Landry, who was considered by many to be one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, coached 20 consecutive winning seasons. He said the secret to winning is constant, consistent management.
So perhaps I win when I don’t give up.
I win when I keep on managing the situations that arise in my mothering. When I do my best to be the constant in my kids’ lives, to be consistent in my expectations and support for their efforts.
Most likely, I’ll find the missing Lego when I’m vacuuming under the couch next month, and my oldest will learn to prioritize homework after a few days of being grounded from screen time. The baby will start crying and fill his diaper soon, and my youngest daughter will have to wait for me to find the hand-me-down leotard in the basement storage room. My kids will continue to receive a good education, and they will always have something to eat for lunch.
Just as my husband has to accept his beloved Broncos’ occasional defeat, as mothers we must accept those times when we feel as though we are losing the game of motherhood.
The 2015 Broncos lost four games in the regular season and still went on to prevail as the Super Bowl 50 champions. As mothers, we might lose. Sometimes, it might feel like we lose a lot.
Our moments of defeat as mothers should never keep us from believing we can prevail, and at the end of the day, we too are champions.