Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Many years ago, long before I was a mother,  I heard Shelley Harwayne in a workshop. Shelley said, "To be a mother is to forever wear your heart outside your body." At the time, I don't think I understood what she meant. I do now.

Ten days ago, I went down to Arizona. I flew into Phoenix, spent about six hours with Son #1, and then drove over to Thatcher, to see Son #2 and outfit his dorm room.

While I was in Phoenix, Son #1 told me that the coaches asked if he wanted to redshirt this year. For those of you who are not sports people, red shirting is a technique they use in college football to give a player an extra year of eligibility. The player is on the team, and practices with the team, but never gets to play in games. Coaches redshirt players that are not quite ready for college ball, or with players that have been hurt. My son tore his ACL last October. He has been cleared to play by the doctors, but the coaches don't feel like he is as fast as he was, and they want him to heal for another year.

"They said it's my decision," said my son. "I can do what I want."

All weekend long, he vacillated. He wanted to play. He wasn't going to red shirt. He was going to wait for the depth chart to come out. He wanted to play, but not if he had to play third or fourth string, and wouldn't get playing time. He had two more practices and a scrimmage and he was going to show the coaches that he was ready.  He wanted to play.

And all weekend long, my heart broke for him. My guy loves, loves, loves his football, pretty much more than life itself. School has never been easy for him. He struggles to maintain a 2.0 GPA. But football, well, that's different. Football is Zay's happy place- the place where he feels strong and sure and confident. He was offensive player of the year two times in high school. Was team captain his junior and senior year. And now, it seems, even football is being taken away.

On Monday night, Zay called me after practice. He had decided to red shirt. I fought to keep my voice even, to swallow the lump in my throat, as he said, "It will be ok. I just need you to support me."

And so all week, I have tried to support him. Told him how much I loved him. How proud I was, that he had gone down there, 900 miles away, and stayed, even after the other three kids he knew quit school and came back. Told him I knew that God had big plans for him. Told him that it would be ok. That he would get to play next year.

And then, every time, I have gotten off the phone and cried. Every single night.

Because being a mom really is wearing your heart outside your body


Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

So true, the heart is so vulnerable when it comes to our kids. And Zay is counting on that heart and your strenght to help him - "I need your support." How diificult it must be for him to take this step, so courageous - but he knows he has you and your love to count on: a mother's love.

Nanc said... sorry for Son #1. My brother-in-law had to red shirt his first year; it is such a hard decision. Listening to his coaches, however, is important too. Letting him go bit by bit is also hard. You are on my list (praying). xo

elsie said...

True words! You offer strength to your boys, even if they don't realize it.

Jone said...

Oh Carol, I know that heartache. What a hard decision he made. I hope that his year goes well.