“Ma, I don’t want to play football anymore.”
That statement started a journey of inflection, reflection, honest conversations, healing, and restoration for Team Pruden. But to fully understand what I’m talking about, I have to share our experiences from the beginning….
Our youngest son, Bryant (nicknamed “Moo”), loves football. He has played the game since he was 7 years old. At one point, he shared his dream of playing collegiate football with his father and I. Of course, we were thrilled. His father played football, his older brother Aaron played football. My brothers played football. We are a football family. So his ambitions made sense.
As is the case when one of my guys shares a dream or goal with me, I get everything going. I am the planner of our family. I do the research and offer options; that’s just how things have happened organically over time. For years, I researched football camps, the right cleats, the proper nutrition, the right colleges, etc, all in preparation for Moo attending college and playing football. Bryant spent his summers at camps, putting in hard work and learning a lot. He had fun and we had fun watching him develop as a player.
Then the injuries started. First, an ankle injury, then a torn miniscus. These injuries kept Moo from being able to play full seasons. When he returned after each injury, he played well (at least to his father and I he did). But along the way, he lost confidence…in himself as a player and as a student. Physical therapy, practices, and school work became an almost insurmountable combination to adjust to. Moo struggled….a lot.
We rallied around Bryant in our usual fashion. We checked in on him to see what he needed and ensured he had whatever was necessary. We supported his return to football and gathering missed work. But there was an slowly building unrest that we missed, or at least I know I missed it. A biopsychosocialspiritual weariness was settling in Moo’s spirit. Add to that interpersonal issues within his team, property damage and feelings of “not being seen” led to the first sentence of this blog. I knew it was hard for Moo to verbalize those words. Trust me, it was hard for me to hear.
My first reaction was not loving, nurturing or therapeutic. I admit I was angry…. very angry. I’m being very honest, the amount of money, time, and effort spent towards Moo and football have been substantial. I told him in no uncertain terms that I thought he was being selfish and lazy. Paul, as always, was more calm. He encouraged Moo to think about his decision and make sure he was certain about walking away from a sport he had loved since he was 7.
I prayed. I asked God to take my feelings away. I asked Him to show us how to handle this situation according to His will and not ours. In the months afterward, Moo and I had some hard conversations. He shared his feelings and experiences he hadn’t shared before. I understood why he was angry, frustrated, and tired. Depression, anxiety, injuries, frustration…. all of these had become a part of Moo’s life. Football had become a chore instead of his passion. Over time, I became more accepting of his choice. Moo also changed majors and school choice during this time. Life with him has never been dull!
COVID changed a lot of things for athletes this year. But I really wasn’t thinking about it. After all, Moo wasn’t playing football this year, right? Well, as the old folks say, “Come to find out”, he had been thinking about football again. We started hearing comments from Moo about football. Paul and I would side eye each other like, “I know this boy ain‘t thinking what we think he is thinking.” Then it happened….he came to me with another opening sentence, “Ma, I want to play football again.”
We sat down as a family and discussed the pros and cons of a return to football. At the end of our discussion, we told him we would support his decision but at the end of the day, he had to live with whatever he decided. He had to know he was not walking back into anything different and he had to be ready biopsychosocialspiritually for what would come. He told us he was ready.
We are proud of Moo. He is enjoying his return to football and he seems to have matured so much. Many times trials shape and mold us into stronger people. That’s the only way we can grow. Moo has been through a lot, but he has learned lessons that will carry him through life. We will support him as he finishes this chapter in his life and beyond. We love you Moo!❤️
Peace and Blessings,
KP (Moo’s Mama)