by Shelly Mazzanoble
I come from a sports-loving family who taught me the names of every NHL team, the location of every MLB stadium, and which NBA teams had mascots. (Very important to an eight-year old girl.) But when it comes to the NFL, ask me to decipher the difference between a touchback and a fullback, and I deflate quicker than Tom Brady’s footballs.
While I can day-drink and deep fry with the best of them, my football knowledge remains subpar. Sure, I get the basics, but the nuances and rules and formations go right over my head. Not to mention all that armchair postulating and second-guessing and the constant string of emotional highs and lows. It’s almost like having a baby.
And then I had a revelation.
It is like having a baby.
The rules and plays and second-guessing and emotional highs and lows? See what I mean? Even the terminology is almost interchangeable.
They both may seem daunting but the good news is, if you understand one, you’ll probably ace the other. And if you happen to be challenged in both? Well, that’s what YouTube is for.
Are you ready for some football… terminology? Then let’s get ready to rumble! Wait. Nope. Wrong sport.
Offensive Line: Saying, “Oh! I totally would have guessed you were having twins!” to a pregnant woman or “Having one is easy! Wait until you have two!” to new parents.
Defensive Line: Any response to the aforementioned offensive lines.
Downs: Attempts to get your child to do something detrimental to their well-being like sleep, eat, put on shoes, remove all traces of Legos and action figure limbs from the stairs, quit eating from the compost bin, or leave Target. You only get a certain number of downs before you have to concede defeat to the other side.
False Start: That moment after a forty-five minute bedtime routine when you believe your child is finally asleep… only to have them jarred awake by the sound of a cricket rubbing its forewings together thirty-seven miles away.
Free Agent: Person who is willing and trusted to babysit your child. Do whatever means necessary to keep this person on your roster. NEVER EVER speak their name out loud for fear of another parent team signing them.
Audible: The hurried, last minute dialogue taking place between two caregivers in order to prevent their charge from seeing, doing, hearing, touching, taking part in, speaking, or generally made aware of an immediate, enticing force.
Running Out the Clock: The times when parents are completely tapped out and only capable of doing the bare minimum required to prevent their child from causing serious bodily harm to themselves or others.
Blitz: The moment where in a blink of the eye your child inexplicably opens a portal to the seventeenth level of hell (a.k.a. “Terrible Twos”, “Threenager,” and “From 9 years-old on”).
Delay of Game: When your child to decides to pour a bowl of chunky applesauce down their pants, or sit in the dog’s water bowl, or get inspired to learn the art of shoe-tying every time you pick up your car keys and you realize that for the next fifteen and a half years you will never be on time for anything.
Quarterback Slide: Used by QBs to avoid crushing tackles, these are deft defensive maneuvers where a toddler makes their body go completely limp causing them to slide out of your grip like a defiant, maniacal, hangry eel.
Fumble: Daily snafus such as: assuming a few Skittles before bed will be fine, saying “just one video” while handing a toddler an iPad, thinking you’ll make it to your destination before your kid has to pee, or having the nerve to PUT OLIVES ON A PIZZA!
Playbook: The advice parents-to-be consume either by way of friends, strangers, books, documentaries, judging other people’s parenting choices, or dysfunctional-family-dramedies on Netflix, all of which will be completely disregarded the first millisecond you are alone with your baby (a.k.a “Birth plan.”)
Pocket: The support network new parents surround themselves with that offer commiseration, microwaveable dinners, reciprocal babysitting services, and warnings about the poop in your hair before snapping a family photo and posting it on Facebook. Establish your pocket with other parents at daycare, joining a parent support group, or seeking out other sad-eyed, bleary, beaten down strangers with bedhead and dried Play-Doh stuck to the butts of their sweatpants.
Hail Mary: A desperate, last chance bid to make your child do something absolutely necessary before you completely, unapologetically lose your mind. Sleep, or lack thereof, is usually involved.
Training Camp: The grueling, all-consuming, physically, emotionally, and mentally draining few months postpartum. Pretty much just like NFL training camp only without signing bonuses and no one has the good fortune to get cut.
Surely football and babies are now as clear as the NFL’s catch rule. Most importantly, take pride in every touchdown. Whether it’s successfully sleep training your newborn, comforting a sick infant, or adding key 90’s influencers to your toddler’s song repertoire so they can tell fellow passengers on a quiet airplane how much they like big butts, it’s a victory! Celebrate it. You’re probably already covered in Gatorade anyway.
About the Author
Shelly Mazzanoble is an author and playwright who has published essays and short stories with Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, Blunt Moms, and Pregnant Chicken. Her essays have been featured and syndicated on BlogHer. Most recently she was part of the cast of Seattle’s Listen to Your Mother show – a national series of live readings by local authors about the many facets of motherhood. She is the mother of a toddler who provides endless fodder she will continue to mine, at least until he’s old enough to understand the word, “litigation.” Visit her blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.