Spiking the Football

I got a check in the mail last week that made me wish I was a football player.

Back in January I started writing a monthly column on family finances for a small handful of regional parenting publications across the country — including the one in my own back yard, Central Penn Parent. It’s a very small handful, and each one pays me very little, so it’s really nothing to brag about. But in another sense it did allow me to realize a lifelong dream of becoming a syndicated columnist. It’s not exactly the topic I dreamed I’d be writing for such a column, nor does it have the kind of widespread audience befitting of such a dream, but there it is.

See what I did there? I somehow managed to disclose the fact that I met a career-long goal while simultaneously crushing it to bits. I fear that’s a talent too many of us have ... which brings me back to the football players. A few weeks ago I received an email from the editor of Calgary’s Child in Canada, letting me know they were picking up my finance column to run in the May/June issue of their magazine. This means — and I type this with a big smirk on my face — that I’m now technically an internationally syndicated columnist.

Silly? Absolutely. But still kind of cool, right? I smiled when I read the email, told my husband, who smiled too, and that was it. I considered posting something on Facebook or emailing a friend but decided that would come across sounding self-important and needlessly boastful. So I did nothing.

Instead I sat there silently and thought about how football players get to at least spike the ball when they get into the end zone. That’s got to feel good, ya know? They train, they sacrifice, they work hard, and when they finally score some points, they take a moment to do a little dance. They thump their hearts and point their fingers toward the sky. They chest-bump teammates who helped them get there. They spike the ball.

There are days I scoff at some of the Facebook posts people write, moms who pat themselves on the back for having finished two loads of laundry and made dinner. That’s it? I sneer. What did they do the rest of the day?? This is all they need to feel accomplished, folding some laundry?

But the more I think about it, the more I believe those women are onto something. They’re laying their heads on their pillows at night feeling satisfied, accomplished. Perhaps they don’t shut off the light and turn on an endless list of Things I Didn’t Get Done Today in their brains, the way I do. Perhaps they glance at the empty hamper in the corner of their bedroom, smile inwardly, and fall blissfully asleep.

OK maybe they don’t do that, but my point here is that they allow themselves to feel good about what they DID do, however simple or menial or ordinary or necessary. They spike the ball.

I’m not suggesting excessive celebration is a good thing. I’m not saying I enjoy watching overpaid thugs doing a terrible Michael Flaherty impression in the end zone or taunting the opposing team and fans. I’ve always loved the way Joe Paterno coaches his kids about end zone celebrations. He says, “Act like you expect to get into the end zone.” Over the years I’ve seen so many Penn State players do just that — simply and nonchalantly hand the football over to the official as if they’ve been in the end zone a million times and will surely be back there in the next series.

I like the respect and modesty that implies, but I think sometimes if we try too hard to not celebrate the things we’ve worked hard for, our successes become muddled. Our dreams become slighted, pushed from a list of Big-Time Goals onto a merely mundane ‘To Do’ list we discreetly check off without so much as a “Woot woot woot,” Arsenio Hall-style.

So I think, when the spirit moves us and the stars align and our hard work pays off, we should spike the ball. Which I suppose is what this particular blog post is, really. Consider this my two fist bumps to the chest and an index finger pointed to the sky. I can’t throw a kiss to God in front of 80,000 fans, but I can do this. I can tell nobody in particular, and anybody who reads it, that I got a check in the mail a few days ago for $50 Canadian from my first international publication, and it made me smile.

(What’s the exchange rate these days, anyway?)


B.J. said...

How about a fight song? :)

Tara @ Feels Like Home said...

Way to go, my friend!