I have five children. I am biologically connected to my two younger ones and I have effectively ‘adopted’ three students from the university where I work. All five are great kids that make me proud each and every day. I can’t help but talk about them every chance I get. My evolution into ‘super mom’ is rather ironic actually. I married late and therefore never thought I would have children of my own. For a long time, I considered formal adoption. It was important to me to find a way to influence the life of a child the way my parents influenced me. My parents always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be and they didn’t care what career path I chose as long as I was happy, gave my best effort and stayed true to the values that they instilled in me. Those lessons have served me well and I pass them on to my own children – all five of them — every chance I get.
“Mom Away from Home”
I just bumped into one of my older children on campus and I had to stop and ask myself how these kids entered my life. The three older ones are or were all student athletes. My younger boys are huge sports fans and immediately began following these particular players when we moved here. The younger ones absolutely adore the older ones! Through those humble beginnings, I began to get to know these student athletes as individuals and we’ve now formed an amazing bond. I guess you could liken the relationship to the one between Michael Oher and Leigh Anne Tuohy as depicted in the movie The Blind Side. The difference is that these guys have families – and we are not wealthy. I’m just ‘mom away from home’ to these guys and do all I can to give them love and support and the push (or kick) that they need to keep them focused and reach their goals. It’s amazing how natural the relationships have become. When I found out that the oldest needed just a few classes to finish his degree after playing professionally overseas, it was a ‘no-brainer’ to open our home to him for the summer so that he would have the support he needed to get his work done.
The Plight of the Student Athlete
Through these relationships, I have gained a new appreciation for the demands that student athletes face while having to live on a tight budget. In addition, many would not have access to higher education were it not for sports. Sadly though, some don’t realize the value of that education and simply see college as a means to continue their athletic careers. Regardless of how they got here, at their core it seems that the student athletes at my university are good kids. That’s why I fuss and poke and prod and meddle in my boys’ business. They are worth it and I make sure that they stay out of trouble and they get their degrees.
Reflecting on all of this recently, I wondered if there wasn’t more that I could do to help other student athletes. I contacted a couple of the coaches and inquired. They responded positively and asked if I could talk with their players about money matters. I jumped at the opportunity to share what I know about a topic near and dear to my heart. We then wondered if there was something else that I could do on an ongoing basis. That’s where I’m stuck. I checked in with my older ‘sons’ and I was touched by their response. “You’re our mama and we don’t want to share you” they said. Words cannot express how incredibly special and loved my children make me feel. I think I need them just as much (if not more than) they need me!