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postmodernfamilyblog

Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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postmodernfamilyblog.wordpress.com

I'm a mother of twin toddlers and two adult daughters. My dad says I ran the engine and the caboose on grandchildren, but I'm having a really hard time driving the potty train. (They always told me boys were harder!) I am passionate about family, football, politics, and good books, and I'm liable to blog about any one of them on any given week.

The Badass who gifted me with Kickass

She used to drink Tab and smoke cigarettes, and she’s the first woman I ever knew who did a “man’s job.” If she hadn’t been in my family, meeting somebody like her might have come much later in my life — if at all.

But lucky for me, my Aunt Ann has been my champion and hero from the get-go. And I’m convinced she buried some deep kernel of kick-ass deep inside my soul that helped me escape the suffocating patriarchy of my past.

Pretty sure she planted the seed when she ran me through the Apgar circuit as a newborn. She traced my skin, counted my breaths, palpated my belly, flashed a penlight in my eyes, and gifted me with the gumption to defy limits and break free.

She was a first-year med student, and I was her live little anatomy lab. She was also an artist, and I became her model at four months when she sketched me in charcoal. I still have the portrait — subtle shading, curled edges — a study in parchment perched on my living room shelf.

Years later, she molded dolls for a hobby after long, heartbreaking hours at the hospital. Those dolls were her escape. She pressed clay with deft and delicate hands — tiny for a formidable 5’10 female. (Story has it the nurses always tried to hand her Large gloves. She wore Small.) She created the entire cast of A Christmas Carol for my 7th grade Language Arts class because she knew we were reading the book.

She made the six hour trek from Tupelo so my students could see them and pass them around. A trip just for my students. Just for me.

Now, she’s grown pale and turned to parchment, her skin yellow and paper thin. Her chin has tumbled in crepe folds on her neck. Her shoulders are sharp and folded like origami. Her eyes are discs, lined pale and gray. The thoughts behind them are fragile. They crumble and tear when pushed.

This is a tragedy. Ann had a mind like none I’d ever known. Sharp. Eidetic. Sherlock Holmes and Spenser Reed in female physician form. But she wasn’t created by a British crime novelist or a Hollywood script writer. She was created by God to break barriers and save lives. When she graduated with her medical degree in 1969, she was one of only two women in her class. She has always defied limits.

Ann suffered a heart attack while I was pregnant with our boys. Mike and I were driving home from Texas when I got the news. We’d just crossed the Mississippi when Aunt Jan, her twin, called.

“Ann’s dying,” she said, and her words punched the air from my lungs.

When I could breathe again, I announced I was going to Ann. “I’m outside Vicksburg. I can get to her in no time.” No time turned out to be four hours. We pulled into the hospital — her hospital, where she’d run ER night shifts for decades. Her kingdom. But she wasn’t in her kingdom. She was in a bed in a backless gown behind a curtain with a ceiling track in the CCU.

Her eyes were not their normal gray blue like water flickering over river stone, processing everything so fast. They were black water ponds, dark dark as pitch. Maybe she’d been given something that dilated them. Or maybe they’d seen something of the unknown and hereafter. Either way, they were haunting.

She took my arm in her hands and clutched it tight and peered into me eyes for a long, long while. No words. No movement. Just a long steady gaze from the depths of black eyes. It felt like goodbye. I told Mike that as we left, I was certain she had just said goodbye.

Over six years later, and she’s still here. Still, it was no doubt a goodbye. Because when they cracked her chest, they also cracked something in her mind.

She pulled through, but her memories and words float free of context and command. Her tongue flutters like a fly strip hoping to catch them. Every now and then, she gets lucky — snags part of a sentence, sputters fragments. But in no time, she’s lost and lonely again.

I’ve seen her three times since that October. Each new meeting, she is frailer, smaller, this larger-than life legend. She’s curling in on herself, chin toward throat, fingers toward palms, shoulders toward that cracked-sternum scar. Folding and curling inward. But her strength to defy limits remains.

I got word this morning that she’s in the hospital. Her wife is home alone. I don’t know what the next few hours or days may bring. I do know that she and Pat are strong and fierce and have battled prejudice, the patriarchy, pit bulls (yes, literally — and in the last month!) and the ravages of disease. They are separated from each other. I am separated from them. I feel helpless. There’s not much I can do and my heart cracks with the ache.

But I can pray. And I can ask all of you to pray too. Pray for these beautiful women in my life. These women who have shaped me, who’ve taken me in and listened to me, who’ve taught me how unconditional, unconventional love is worth pursuing and worth living. And who reminded me to always dig deep into my soul to find that kickass my Aunt Ann planted there so many years ago. So no one takes advantage or control of me and my dreams ever again.

ILY, Aunt Ann and Aunt Pat. ILY super very — so very super — very much a lot.

back to school scenarios and the kamikaze butterflies in my gut

Y’all. I’m a nervous wreck about the start of school this year. So many crazy unknowns. Will we report back on a full, traditional schedule? Will we be on some form of a hybrid? Will we be all online, at least in the beginning?

Unfortunately, none of these makes me comfortable.

Ideally, we would all be back in the classrooms with our students, reading, writing, sharing stories in person and on paper, laughing, singing the occasional impromptu television theme song, and building relationships that last and impact us for the rest of our lives.

That’s what we’ve always done and it’s what I love most in the world about my job. Getting to know and love my kids and appreciate how much potential they have and how much of it they’re actually using. I then get to push them based upon what I know about their skills level, personality, and propensities.

But this year, if we are all in the same classroom, it’ll be with masks. On me, at least. We don’t yet know if our system will require them. If masks are not mandatory, I will ask my students to respect my desire for them to wear one. And pray they don’t push back. So many people are opposed to them for reasons beyond me, and I know if I stand alone in asking my students to wear them, there WILL be backlash. But they DO truly help prevent the spread of disease — from the mask wearer to others. So me wearing a mask without my students wearing a mask is futile and far from ideal.

Also not ideal is the fact that my voice will be muffled and my smile invisible. Smiling’s my favorite. I do it all the time. I’ve never been one of those “Never let ’em see you smile till Christmas” kind of teachers. Nope. I love my kiddos and they’ll know it from the get-go. So no, masks are not ideal.

Neither is a hybrid schedule. But on a traditional schedule like we run at our school, high schoolers travel all over the campus seven to eight times a day. Without hybrid accommodations, the contamination curve is increased exponentially. A hybrid would reduce the number of students in classrooms on any given day and will hopefully help prevent the spread of the virus. So hybrid helps immensely and is probably the best scenario possible in the less-than-ideal, “between a rock and a hard place” position we all find ourselves in this school year.

But for a mom of six-year-old twins, if the primary school also goes hybrid, I have no clue what I’ll do for childcare. They’ll be home part time; I’ll be at work full time. I’m at a loss. (And I know I’m preaching to the choir on this one, as so many parents will find themselves in this situation. I wish I could blink and make everything normal again…)

And then finally, there’s the third potential solution: digital learning days to start the school year (and for the foreseeable future). This is my least favorite possibility. In March, it wasn’t too bad because I already knew my students and they knew me. They understood my expectations, I understood what they were capable of. I could push them from inside the strict confines of a screen and they produced — often with flying colors.

But if we begin the year digitally with no in-person interactions, my opportunities to get to know my students and what makes them tick are seriously hampered, and my abilities to demand their best are deeply handicapped. And their motivation — as high schoolers — heck as all humans without personal interaction and contact, honestly– is deeply lessened. Relationships with those around me keeps me motivated and accountable. As it does for my students.

Yes, I’m a nervous wreck. I have no control over this virus or the decisions being made to circumvent it.

I will learn tomorrow what our system will do. And I know our superintendent and school board members and leadership teams have done all within their powers to turn a potential no-win situation into a productive and successful school year. So I will have faith.

And I will do my part to make it work. And so will everyone else at our school — teachers, students, administrators, support staff — no matter what our schedule looks like. We are strong and capable and we can do hard things.

We will make it work — and beyond that, we will succeed.

Still, that doesn’t calm the crazed, kamikaze butterflies dive-bombing my gut right now. I’m just so ready to KNOW, and I’m so ready to GO!

on being sidelined

After four months of being sidelined from life, the isolation is starting to get to me. I feel cut off from humanity, from reality. And I’m having nightmares where friends and buildings are crumbling and falling away; where huge chasms hang between me and everyone else; where I’m left standing alone on something barely larger than a pencil lead.

Pretty sure that pencil lead directly translates into anxiety about our school year. So many differing opinions and data, so much uncertainty.

I do what I can to cope and calm my nerves. I write, I walk, I run, I read, I love on my family. But still, I get ornery sometimes.

Today was one of those days. I was in the surliest of moods. Just ask my husband, who was definitely fielding some “worse” from our “better or worse” vows.

So I took my morning walk to see if Mother Nature could mend my meanness. Even so, I wore my bitterness on my shoulder like a challenge.

She began by trying to dazzle me with a set of ruby crepe myrtle trees keeping sentry halfway up the big hill. The blossoms are full-bodied and top-heavy, like upturned communion goblets spilling claret red wine. Pretty, I thought. But I’m angry and shall not be moved..

Not much farther, I spied a deep green part left in the dew-slicked sod by some foraging animal’s feet. The color contrast was sumptuous, but I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I was staying there.

Off to my right, the back and forth patter of an oscillating sprinkler over moon white petunias caught my attention. Petals clumped like wet moth wings. I took joy in finding kindred, soggy spirits. I was full up with piss and vinegar.

And then I hit tipping point. A neighbor boy, fresh from his run, sitting on the humped back of the whale-shaped rock at the pool, waiting for the sun to unspool from the gray. He nodded and waved. I said hello in spite of myself. I may have even smiled.

I was coming around.

As I walked, I began looking for the heart-shaped holes scattered in the sidewalks around the neighborhood. There’s a multitude of them — symbols of the passing of time. Erosion, yes — but perseverance too. Proof of beauty in decay. Of love winning. Of hearts hatching, despite — or because of — the hardness of life.

It’s not all bad, I reasoned.

Then I came across a tiny turtle in the road, her patchwork shell glistening. She thought she’d been calculated in her crossing — not many cars out yet. But work trucks and vans were arriving for the new houses going up. She didn’t anticipate those. Nor did she anticipate me, a deus ex machina in black Adidas, come to pluck her off her path and plop her safely in the grass. She hissed (didn’t know they could do that..) and drew in her neck, all piss and vinegar.

I smiled. Maybe that’s what all this has been for me these last few months — a deus ex machina of pandemic proportions has plucked me off my path and sidelined me for a bit — out of some harm’s way I didn’t calculate, anticipate, or understand. And me, all piss and vinegar and far-from-thankful.

I began my descent toward home and the river as the splendor of sunrise unfurled: an apricot, rose petal, nectarine sky. A parfait of fresh fruit and flowers.

In my forty-minute walk, nature had poured her lessons and reminders into me. Of her goodness, her grace, her grind, her perseverance, her pain, and her glory. Especially the glory — the just desserts you will always receive if you believe in a higher cause and are willing to be open and receive.

And lucky for us… even when we’re not.

Even when we’re cranky and mean, with clumped-up, damp spirits from foraging around in the dark, someone or something will be there to lift us up so our hearts can hatch inside the struggle. So apricot, rose petal, nectarine beauty can bloom.

Even then.

The Magnificent Seven

Seven. The number of completion. Of wonders of the world. Of legendary itches. And the number of times I’ve gotten lucky and right in my life: my second husband, four kids, teaching career, writing life.

This summer we are celebrating all of them — the completions, wonders, itches, and all things right in my life. So much has happened — so much life — in the last seven years.

Seven years ago this month we drove out to Dallas from Augusta with Caitlin, a freshly-minted doctor embarking on her residency. She graduates in one week, after receiving one of the finest and most brutal trainings known to medicine.

She’s flourished here, but that doesn’t mean it’s come easy. Dallas has been a painful growing process — lots of pressure, pruning, heat, storms, and fertilizer (so much colorectal content!). But she’s grown and blossomed into a big, beautiful, bodacious surgeon, ready to excise cancer at its roots.

Seven years ago this month, Mike and I drove her to Dallas while embarking on our own life-altering journey. We were in the process of mapping out an IVF schedule, communicating with our fertility specialist to choreograph not one, but two cycle details and dates: my own and our egg donor’s. Seven years later, we have flourishing six-year-old boys.

But these wonders of ours haven’t come easy. It’s been a painful growing process, being the mother of twins at my age. Lots of pressure, pruning, heat, storms and fertilizer (so many diapers!) But the boys eventually potty-trained (finally, at 3!) and learned to sleep(ish) and have grown into big, beautiful saplings, full of potential and wonder.

And even though Mike and I are about to complete our eighth year of marriage, we lost a year of sleep and sanity when the boys were born, so I’m claiming seven In keeping with this theme… I am more in love with him now than ever. He has pulled my heart into the light and shown it how best to flourish. And honestly, it’s come pretty easy. Sure, we’ve had hiccups and spats, but we’ve had so many more blessings and sparks. And they just keep coming. Together, we’re brighter, better, stronger than we could ever be apart. Gosh, how I love him. And gosh, how I love us.

So no, the seven-year-itch I mentioned has nothing to do with our relationship. No, it has to do with my writing life. I’ve been scratching hard at a novel these last few quarantined months, trying to bring it into the light. It’s been simmering under my skin like chiggers for quite some time, nagging away, just begging me to dig at it. And now I’ve begun, I can’t stop. It’s like the harder I scratch the more it hurts — and the better it feels. It’s a growing process. And I’ve given myself another half a year to complete this tickly, prickly gestation and get it birthed, Good Lord willing.

Yes, it’s been seven years and I’m back in Dallas once again, packing up Caitlin’s apartment and unpacking memories, while she packs in a few more surgeries and a good many hard-won, difficult goodbyes.

These seven years have been a whirlwind of goodness, grace, and growth. I am so full of gratitude for the many blessings received along the way — for the completion of Caitlin’s residency, the wonders of our miracle twins, the blessings of my second-born, Bethany’s wedding and the birth of her own beautiful family, the change of scenery in my teaching career, the writing itches that have unearthed my blogging endeavors and my percolating novel.

All the pressures, pruning, heat, storms, and fertilizer of life surely can bless you a bundle. Can’t wait to see what takes root and grows in these next seven years.

I am Here to Listen, Learn, Speak Out, and Support

I feel so strongly and ache so deeply for my friends, family, and students of color. I want to help. I want to do more. I can’t imagine the pain and exhaustion. The frustration. The fever.

I can’t imagine being a member of society, upholding a social contract with a society, that refuses to acknowledge my value and worth beyond my ability to fuel a sports franchise or fill a quota.

Can’t imagine being looked at like my skin, hair, eyes, speech, culture don’t measure up.

Can’t imagine driving or jogging or shopping or simply chilling in a country that believes that because my skin has more melanin, my motives are monstrous and mustn’t be trusted.

And now, these last couple days, I can’t imagine seeing and hearing people I thought were friends and allies complaining about the funeral of a murdered black man too closely resembling a “state funeral.”

The death of George Floyd became the catalyst of a much–needed revolution. He did not sign up to be a soldier. He deserved so much more than a brutal death at the hands of a man corrupted and influenced by privilege and power. But now, in death, George Floyd deserves to be celebrated. He’s become a hero in a war that never should have been. And he deserves to rest in peace.

His memory cannot and should not be left to lie uncelebrated. Cannot and should not be left to lies driven by hatred in attempts to villainize his life and corrupt his memory and the cause that has sprung from the ashes and dust of too many black bodies unjustly killed for too many dark generations.

By laying his body to rest, I pray we are laying to rest all the silent complicity of white privilege. I pray we are at the beginnings of an end to the blatant and latent racism that has driven this nation far too long.

I pray we continue to debride the wounds and break up the scar tissue. It’s not comfortable, not for any of us. It stings sometimes. It hurts. But for our friends of color — Oh-God-Have-Mercy — I can’t imagine the bone-weary acres and acres of buried bruises, inherited pain, and fresh wounds. So. Much. Pain. So. Many. Wrongs.

So while I can’t speak for my black friends and family and students… I can speak out for and with them. I can give them my support and my love and my voice. I can proclaim at the top of my lungs that #BlackLivesMatter. That they are important to me. That their equality is important to me. That justice for those unjustly killed is important to me.

I loudly proclaim I AM NOT COLOR BLIND. I see you, hear you, ache with you, and stand with you. I am ready to help, to do whatever I can. You have a friend and an ally in me.

when men hold bibles as weapons of oppression

Y’all, I’m terrified.

I’ve been on the side of white men in power suits wielding the Bible as a weapon before. I know on an up-close-and-personal level how dangerous a man who has fallen in love with power and believes he’s unstoppable can be. How quickly he finds allies, how quickly he finds weakness, how he uses everything in his arsenal to his advantage and against yours. I’ve lived in tyranny under the guise of Christianity.

When I was seventeen years old, I didn’t have the power to stop it. The only power I had was to run. To run away to another home. A sanctuary. At fifty-four years old I have the power to stop him. I have the power to vote. I have the power to speak out. I have the power to march. I have the power, but I can’t do it alone.

He’s already gotten away with so much more than I would have thought possible.

When he was elected three-and-a-half years ago I cried and cried and cried. It felt like mourning. It felt like death. I was terrified of what he would do. But I was assured the country had checks and balances in place to keep Trump from doing too much damage. That seems not to have been the case.

I’ve watched the POTUS navigate this country completely without moral compass, violating law and constitutional rights and human decency, time and time and time again. And then, this week, when he declared himself president of law and order and decided he would “dominate” the people he was elected to serve… when he marched his smug self and his police force (his long-dreamt of military parade) out of the Rose Garden and onto the property of St. John’s Episcopal Church, a church dedicated to humanitarian missions and serving those in need within its community, to hold up a Bible in blatant mockery of everything Christ stands for — I knew. I knew we have come to a dangerous tipping point.

I’ve seen men hold Bibles up as weapons of oppression and hatred before. I’ve lived it. And I know the havoc it can wreak. A man who holds a Bible like Hitler and seeks domination and absolute law and order squashes every liberty you’ve ever known. Will rob you of every dream you ever had — if you let them. Don’t let them.

If you are of voting age and you see the slippery slope the feverish, power-hungry philistine in office is trying to steer us all toward, you need to exercise your power, use your might: VOTE. Vote and GET HIM OUT OF OFFICE before he does irreparable harm.

Don’t run away like I did at seventeen. Don’t seek sanctuary somewhere else. THIS is a land of promise. A land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL. Not the few. Not the white. Not the patriarchy. Not the men wielding bibles as weapons.

Stand up. Fight for your freedom. Fight for your dreams. Fight for YOUR country.

VOTE. MARCH. SPEAK OUT. PROTEST.

VOTE.

If you can breathe, you need to speak

The last few days have been heartbreaking to me in a way I’m having a difficult time processing and expressing. I can’t imagine what my friends of color are feeling. I ache for your grief and your anger.

Seeing the president speak from the rose garden about being a “president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters,” minutes after flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas rained down on law-abiding citizens demonstrating across the street — all so he could parade himself over to a church and wave a bible in the air — it sickens me.

Hearing him speak of second amendment rights and military aggression with heavily armed soldiers to squelch the justified movement of a people in pain and desperate for change — it sickens me.

And not hearing what should have been said. The POTUS not addressing the injustice and violence and murders that led to these protests, this unrest. No acknowledgment of pain felt or wrongdoing dealt. What he didn’t say sickens me most of all.

And the same goes for some of my friends who have chosen to leave so much unsaid. The voices that have stayed silent during this pivotal moment in American history, my grief and shame is overwhelming.

I don’t get it. Staying “politically correct” in a time when the politics of status quo are anything but correct — it’s selfish and it’s sad.

The people who belligerently write “All Lives Matter” on posts infuriate me, but at least I know exactly where they stand. And so does the black community.

It’s the ones who say nothing — they’re the ones you wonder about. Are they ally or enemy? Those who say nothing aid the oppressor. So I guess that makes them enemy.

Silence smothers. It covers and conceals and squelches fire.

George Floyd’s “I Can’t Breathe” cry fell on his tormentor’s deaf ear. But it has become a rallying cry for the movement. Don’t smother that cry with silence.

Without oxygen, you die. Without oxygen, you also can’t speak. Be the oxygen this movement needs. Speak up.

Eric Garner and George Floyd’s and myriads of others’ voices were taken from them. Don’t let anyone — including yourself and any fear you feel — take yours. Use your voice. Stand up. Speak out.

If you love this country and all it stands for. If you believe in liberty and justice FOR ALL, rise up and rail against the injustice you see, you read, you hear, you feel.

You: Speak. For justice, for truth, for liberty. For all the battered, bruised, violated, murdered brothers and sisters of color.

Please. Speak.

The American Dream is a Nightmare; Liberty & Justice, a Sham

I have to write on this. Not because I have anything particularly valuable to say, but because if I don’t, I’m part of the problem. If I stay silent, I’m encouraging the oppressor. I refuse to support injustice and inequality. I refuse to encourage violence and murder.

So I am standing in the gap and calling for change.

And if I lose friends, if I lose “followers,” so be it. Better that loss, than the loss of human lives in a nation built on liberty and justice for all — unless you don’t fit that “liberty and justice” mold. That white, gun-toting, rebel-rousing, faith-filled, liberty-and-justice mold. It’s fine to be a rebel if you’re white. It’s fine to carry guns — semi-automatic weapons even — if you’re white. It’s fine to be a person of faith — as long as you’re Christian and white. It’s fine to want liberty and justice, as long as you’re white. 

America. A nation built on lies bred on the backs of people of color forced to forge the American Dream. Well, that dream is a nightmare and I refuse to participate. I refuse to bury my head in the sand. Instead, I will scream at the top of my lungs until we all wake up. 

I am no expert. My skin is not black. I cannot say I understand. I can, however, say I empathize. I can, however, say I support you. I can, however, do all I can possibly do to help. I can acknowledge the injustice and speak for change. I can speak out from my heart for my students, my student-athletes, my friends, my fellow humans.

I owe them my love, my support, my energy, and my efforts. I owe them the acknowledgment of inequality. We all do. And we owe them more than that. We owe them equality.

I have seen and heard and felt the racist comments and undercurrents in my classroom whenever we’ve tried to discuss inequality. Inevitably, the room becomes a harshly-divided hotbed of contention — and unwaveringly along color lines. There are far too few white students willing to take a stand with their black peers and acknowledge they have seen and heard the racism inherent in our community. There are, thankfully, a small handful willing to speak up for their peers.

Along with Hispanic and Asian students, they will speak up. Because they know. They understand. They see and hear and feel it too. But inside the walls of my classroom — and inside the walls of my social media accounts, I regularly hear, “Well, honestly, ALL lives matter.”

Well, of course they do. Nobody is saying they don’t. But plenty of people ARE saying Black lives don’t matter.

  • Through their actions. (Refusing to see an undeniable truth IS action and it is unforgivable.)
  • Through negative labeling to “justify” the violence.
  • Through the continued denial of the obvious and ongoing racist crisis in the nation (I hesitate to use the words “Our Nation” when it so obviously denies freedom and justice for ALL). 
  • Through the staggering number of minority deaths at the hands of law enforcement.
  • Through the refusal of the legal system to hold those responsible for the all those deaths legally responsible
  • Through the arguments, “But he was resisting arrest”; “But they shouldn’t have been hanging with that crowd”; “But he was jogging in cargo pants”; “But, but, but, but…”

No more butts. We have too many assholes in the world already. There is no excuse, and there is no more time for excuses. Stand up and say No More. No more negative portrayals. No more negative nouns. No more labels. No more statistics. No more names. No more deaths. No more time.

There is only time now for support and for change. Stand in the gap. Help make change. Demand justice. For George Floyd. For Ahmaud Arbery. For Breonna Taylor. For Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile. For so many more… 

For the many who have been enslaved, scarred, broken, and murdered in the shameful history of a nation built on the dreams of the few at the expense of the many. This. Is. America. 

And until something changes, it is a sham.

To Ball or not to Ball: a coach’s wife’s heartfelt ranking on risk and reward

I am a huge football fan, and we are a huge football family. From my high school ball-coaching husband and pee wee player sons, to my grown daughters (one a Georgia Bulldog, the other a Tennessee Volunteer), we live for Friday nights under the lights and Saturdays out in the sun. But I have to tell you, all this talk of opening up summer practice has me torn.

Right now, my husband’s after-school profession and my family’s biggest passion and beloved pastime is under some serious scrutiny as the Powers-that-Be determine what, when, how (and even whether) to get the preseason conditioning and practices under way.

My heart is so torn. I know the risks and I know the rewards.

The risks can be great. My daughter is a doctor out in Dallas. The most-serious cases in all of North Texas are treated in a COVID-unit in her hospital. She tells me how the virus ravages patients, both with preexisting conditions and without. She knows how impossible it is to predict whose body can handle a coronavirus attack and whose can’t.

But I also know the risk for high school football players is minimal. Only 2% of confirmed COVID-19 cases are children, and of those, only 6% or so are hospitalized. Even with the growing awareness of the dangerous Pediatric Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome that’s been in the news lately, the risk to our players is incredibly small.

So odds are, our boys can huddle up, knock helmets, throw passes, and swap sweat and oxygen without adverse consequences. So what happens on the practice field isn’t what worries me.

No, I am far more worried about what happens in the weight room.

These boys lift A LOT of weight. They huff and puff and pump themselves up before pressing ginormous poundage. They use spotters. And those spotters stand directly behind and/or above the weightlifters’ faces. They exhale and inhale each other’s air. Six-foot social distancing is impossible. Ingestion of respiration droplets is inescapable.

And while the boys themselves are probably going to be just fine, they ARE potential carriers who can share the virus at home with parents and grandparents — some with compromised immune systems, some without. (And again, that doesn’t necessarily predict relative safety or risk.)

Also, a recent study out of South Korea reveals over 1000 COVID cases there were linked to fitness classes, at an attack rate of 26.3%. The exhaled breath of athletes under physical exertion causes more dense transmission of isolated droplets. That, paired with unpredictable air flow, increases the contagion factor dramatically. And facemasks during heavy exercise can cause dizziness and fainting. So… not ideal.

The air in the field house weight room will be steamy and full of exhaled air, recirculating through a multitude of lungs, coaches’ included. And that is what worries me on a selfish and personal level. Coaches fall within age ranges far more susceptible to the virus. And those coaches can likewise inadvertently carry the virus home to wives and family members who may be susceptible.

Yes, there are definite variables and risks involved in starting football back up for the summer. But then, I also understand there are rewards.

The rewards for these coaches and their players are tremendous. Because football is so much more than just a game. It is a commitment and it is a calling, but most importantly, it is a family. And that family has a legacy — a legacy left by hometown heroes to current family members, who will carry and leave that legacy for future generations to come.

The tradition of football is strong: the heart, the commitment, the discipline, the family, the legacy.. these are the rewards. And to miss a season would be a tragedy. But then, so would unnecessary deaths or debilitating lifelong conditions for players, coaches, families, and fans.

I guess there are risks and rewards to be considered with every decision that comes with life. And for this wife of a football coach, teacher of football players, and mother of a physician daughter, the risks and rewards are weighing heavy on my heart. I love my family. I love my football. I love my football family.

For the time being, I’ll wait on the Powers-that-Be. And depending on what they decide, my family and football families around the nation will need to make weighty decisions of our own. May God grant us wisdom as we move into this new season of a pandemic preseason.

(And may He also guide medical science to wipe this virus from the face of the earth so that the only face-masks we have to worry about are of the 15-yard penalty variety.)

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