Parenting is mostly about the little moments – the first words, the first teeth, the first steps, the long snuggles, the sweet giggles, the small hands, the first solo trip down the slide, the smiles at pick-up and long, warm hugs at drop off – but sometimes, just sometimes, parenting is about the big moments. Sometimes it’s about pulling the trigger on some fabulous last-minute football tickets, packing up the car, driving across the state, fighting the crowd and the heat with a three-year old to share the magic of a city you’ll always consider your second home, to watch their eyes light up when they hear the fight song they’ve been singing all week and to sit side-by-side in a stadium filled with thousands of people you may as well call family.
That’s what I did this past weekend and, let me tell you, hell will freeze over before I forget how special it was. AND NOW I’M CRYING.
Ever since Seth and I found out we were going to have a baby, there has been an in-home battle for “home team” loyalty. I graduated from the University of Iowa so I am a Hawkeye fan to the core. Seth graduated from Iowa State but he was raised an Oklahoma fan, so he’s sort of an Iowa State fan but mostly he’s a Sooners to the core. Now I know some women couldn’t care less what team their boys cheer for but I am not one of those women. I love college football – I love the fanfare, I love the camaraderie, I love the game and I love my alma mater – and I want to share that with my boys. But I’m also not delusional, I know that one day the boys won’t want to watch football games with their crazy mom who has a tendency to yell at the television. Sooner than later, they’ll prefer to watch the game in silence with their dad who has a tendency to throw television remotes across the room and get unreasonably angry even when his team is winning by millions. Football is a “guy thing” and eventually it will become a “dad thing”. My time for brainwashing them is limited!
So all last week Matty had been asking to go see the Hawkeyes. He became so convinced we were going to a game that every time we would leave the house in the morning he would holler “Okay, we’re going to see da Hawkeyes!” and then when I’d laugh and inform him we were actually going to school, he’d throw a fit. Then, before school last Friday, I was running around trying to get the boys’ stuff together and I overheard Matty singing the Iowa fight song to himself while sitting on the toilet. His little falsetto tugged at my heart strings and I just knew I had to take him to a game. A few hours later while romping around on the internet I decided on a whim to look at tickets. I found on-the-field tickets for an awesome price and immediately called Seth. Seth, who already had plans for Saturday and isn’t much of a spontaneous adventurer, wasn’t very keen on the idea of me taking a last-minute four-hour road trip across the state with our three-year old so he and I could go to a nationally-televised night game against the #4 ranked team in the country on a 95-degree day. I was obviously dreading the crowd and the driving and weather (and everything that is just harder with kids) but when considering the pay out of getting to share the day in my favorite city with Matty, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
And so I bought the tickets.
The next day was a whirlwind, we dropped Abbott off with my family about half-way to Iowa City and Matty slept the entire rest of the way. As we pulled into Iowa City, my excitement was through the roof and so was the temperature. It was 93 degrees and we had about three and half hours until the game started. The first stop we made was at a sporting good store to get some face stickers and gear. Matty was enamored by the number of Hawkeye fans inside the store. He just kept saying “There’s a Hawkeye! He’s with da Hawkeyes! She’s with da Hawkeyes!” He picked out a new Hawkeye hat and our face stickers, which he had opened and put on his face before we even left the store. I could already tell this was going to be the best day.
We took the Hawkeye Express, a train, to the stadium. As you can imagine, Matty literally lost it. He was so excited he ran full speed at the train and didn’t look back. When we got to the stadium, Matty wasn’t even phased by the thousands of people wandering around every which way. He maneuvered through the crowd with ease while I struggled to keep up.
“MOM! COME ON!”
“Matty, I can’t just run people over.”
“YES YOU CAN. COME ON, MOM!”
When we got to the gate, I let Matty give the man his ticket to scan. He stretched out his arm with his piece of paper and the older gentleman bent over to talk to him.
“Well, hello there little guy!”
“Are you excited for the game?”
“Well, have a great time!”
Matty, not sure what to do, just stood and stared at the man while everyone in line watching laughed. I heard a group of college students behind me gushing over the interaction. “That was the cutest thing I’ve seen all day!” When we walked onto the field to get to our seats, Matty was in awe. He asked questions about everything, pointed out the most random things and impatiently asked about where the Hawkeyes, Herky and the band were. The rest of the night was a magical blur: we sang the fight song along with seventy thousand other fans, Matty chanted along with fans without even knowing what he was saying, he waved at the children in children’s hospital at the end of the first quarter and asked to go see them, he cheered with the crowd and he danced to the music. We lasted three entire quarters until we started to make our way outside, we listened to the last two minutes of the game on the train (heartbreaking for me, still exhilarating for Matty). And then, as soon as we got on the road, still jacked up on the energy of Kinnick Stadium, Matty talked to Seth on the phone about EVERYTHING.
This story is probably only special to me but if you take anything from it, just know that sometimes it’s important for us to say fuck it to the inconveniences of those last minute spontaneous trips, big nights out and crowded events because the memories are worth it. And maybe you’re not the spontaneous adventurous type, and so to you (the Seth’s of the world) just know that sometimes it’s important for you to just say yes and, as Elsa would say, let it go.
Now, let’s all say it together, GO HAWKS.