It was a small gesture. I'd rounded that morning and raced from Grady Hospital to the football field as quickly as I could. I felt bad when his helmeted head turned in my direction; I knew he noted my second quarter arrival.
"Your mom works full time," I prepared myself to say. "People get sick and mommy takes care of them. Otherwise, you know I would have been there from the beginning."
Which is true because I would.
But the minute that helmet came off, all I saw was his eyes dancing and his face lighting up. No scathing glance or disappointed queries about why I wasn't there at kick off or lamentations of how some other kid's mom is always, always, always there from the start.
Instead, he just pointed at my face and smiled big, wide and genuine. He called over his teammates and wanted them to see, too. "My mom is awesome," he said. And the best part is that I could tell that he meant it. Those nine year old boys ooh-ed and aah-ed and agreed with him, too.
Funny. I didn't feel so "awesome" before that. Just an hour before I was wriggling into my jeans in the back of my minivan and swearing under my breath for forgetting my team shirt with his number on the back. I did have on the team colors, but still. I know how much it means to the kids when the moms come all geared up.
And so. At the last minute, I grabbed that sticker. A black under eye sun-blocker that had fallen from his football bag that I pasted under my right eye without much additional thought. But not before grabbing the white pencil sitting in my minivan console to scribble the number of my favorite player.
You know? Most games I saw from the first play. And even showed up with personalized shirts just for him. But there was something about that sticker. Something extra special about is mom showing up looking like she was just as in the game as he was that felt even more special for him.
When he brought all of his friends over and puffed out his chest? I sort of wanted to cry. Kind of like I was Kevin Durant's mom and like this was one of those moments that would make him someday say that I was the real MVP.
Sometimes? Man. Sometimes we get it right.
Now on my mental iPod. This made me cry tonight.