Motherhood and Madden Football are more than Xs and Os. Madden football taught me four important lessons about how to mother my daughters–and it’s not just hugs and kisses.
Lesson #1: Decisions. Decisions.
I had to decide on my storage capacity. Upgrading my smartphone allowed me to increase the amount of storage space on my phone. The added space — margin — meant I could play more freely, without fear of freezing up.
Still, once I started to “play,” I had to decide at what level I was I going to play the game.
I had the following options for the level of play:
I’ve neither played nor understood “fantasy” football. I prefer to exert control over the actual action of the (video) game.
I also had to decide the extent of my control over my opponents. Did I…
- want a computer to choose Random opponents or
- Want Realistic Opponents from a specific season to challenge me?
Regarding Management: did I want control or no control over management decisions during the season?
As a mom, I make decisions all the time regarding how and the conditions in which I “do” (e.g. play) this mothering thing. Amidst the frenetic pace of my motherhood journey, it’s important for me to remember that I do have control over how — at what level — I engage in the “game” of life as a mom.
Lesson #2: Pre-Season Preparation
My pregnancy with our twin daughters was a weird kind of “waiting period” for me. People had told me pregnancy was a “nesting time.” However, I was in the 5th year of my counseling psychology doctoral program at Rutgers University, taking my last course, collecting data for my dissertation, and working two part-time jobs.
After two trips to the hospital for dehydration, I had nesting “forced” upon me.
In Madden Football like in motherhood, I get to
- Examine my team roster to see what resources I currently have.
- Scout the opposition & watch film (on “scripts”/patterns from past games)
- Determine a focused theme for the upcoming season
- Run (performance) drills to fine-tune my skills base
- Learn & practice the designed offensive & defensive plays
Similarly, it became important for me as an expectant mom to
- See who (in addition to my husband) was in my corner to provide me with supportive tangible and emotional resources.
- Examine my own thoughts and feelings about being a mom of daughters
- Deciding my focus for motherhood
- Take classes/trainings to fine-tune my skills and learn strategies for different mothering scenarios.
Lesson #3: Get In The Game.
I really get into the game of football. I love the action. You can have a concrete plan, but the game is fluid. You can go on runs, but you may have to take a time out.
An important thing aspect to managing it all is to Get…
Inquisitive (not pissed-off) about setbacks.
When I started playing Madden Football on my smartphone, I started out on the easy level. I chose to play as the Minnesota Vikings (I like Kirk Cousins and Andre Peterson). That helped me to learn the levers and get into a rhythm. It was exhilarating to score and win. I won a lot…including the Super Bowl.
After three Super Bowl wins, I decided to move it up a notch and play at the medium level. I stuck with my same team and roster of players, which included a good running back who always opened up my passing game.
The transition to this next level resulted in my losing the first few games of the new season. My passing game, used at the “easy” level, was not working at the “medium” level.
I wasn’t used to nor had I experienced so many losses. It was Madden-ing…initially.
But I decided to switch my focus to figure our what factors were contributing to my losses.
And, even though I didn’t make it to the playoffs, I continued to partake of extra practices and training sessions to learn the Madden Football control levers better and become a better passing team.
Eventually, my game-play became multi-dimensional.
…and, after three seasons, I won the Super Bowl at the “medium level” of play.
As a mom, I’ve found that it’s important to be inquisitive when things aren’t working in my relationship with my daughters. It can become so easy to get comfortable in doing things a certain way just because “they’ve always worked before.”
As in Madden Football, during your motherhood journey, it’s important to take note of what’s really going on and note your reactions to whatever situations and circumstances are occurring.
Because, as they grow, daughters undergo a myriad of changes as they encounter different life transition points.
Intune with “critical moment” game play.
Transition points — critical moments — happen in a Madden Football game (and motherhood) all the time. Critical moments are those game-time situations that end up being pivotal in their effect on the player, team, score, and end results of the game.
It’s a ripple-effect.
With my confidence at an all-time high, I not only decided to switch to a new team but also go onto the “Hard” level of the game. (Talk about a “critical moment” in my decision-making!)
I chose a team that I’d loved from my childhood; the Dallas Cowboys.
Though I reminisced about the past Roger Staubach era, I was playing with the present Prescott-Elliot player reality of the 2019 Madden Football team options.
I did extra practices to hone my QB’s passing skills and strengthen my team’s running game.
But right out of the gate, my team got clobbered! Not once. Not twice. For the first 14 games!!!
I had to invoke a lot of inquisitiveness…about what wasn’t working offensively.
My players were getting pushed around by their opponent’s defense. They were losing games in the critical defensive moments.
I suddenly realized that I didn’t have a real defensive scheme for my own team.
(As Tennessee coaching legend, Pat Summit, used to say, “Defense wins championships.”)
So, I went into the last two games of the season with an eye on critical defensive moments in the game.
I won one of the remaining two games of the season.
Better late than never. And, in the process, I’ve learned: Good defense can create offensive scoring opportunities.
As a mom of daughters, I’ve had to think and mother them “defensively.” Defensive mothering means that I have to
- anticipate and keep an eye on what may be coming up next for my daughters and
- give them strategies to handle situations before they happen or to prevent them from happening.
In order to get “in tune” with what’s going on, though, I need to be invested in the process of this motherhood journey.
Invested (not divested) in the process.
I invested a LOT of practice sessions in the off-season with my Dallas Cowboy team. By the time I’d exhausted all avenues, I felt I was ready to tackle a progression to the “Hard Level.”
When I started a new season at the “hard level,” though, I immediately began getting clobbered. My defense was not working and neither my passing nor running game worked.
So, after two consecutive losses, I changed my mindset and approach.
When on offense, I lined up my team and would just let the play run. I paid more attention to what was coming at me and how it was coming at me. I looked for any holes in my opponent’s defense.
When my team was on defense, I paid attention to and tried out timing moves my players could make to slide between offensive linemen.
And I won a couple of games.
Still, when I looked at my Madden Football record and my motherhood journey, I realized the next lesson…
Lesson #4: You Win Some. You Lose Some.
I had so many high hopes for what the season would be like. While playing at the “hard level,” I questioned my decisions and approach at times, I realized that “you win some, you lose some.”
…and that’s okay. It’s “just a game.”
However, as a mom, the “game” of life–this motherhood life–can feel like high “hard level” stakes.
And any “losses” can make you start to question everything about aspects of yourself and your mothering .
But if you can remember the football women–like Dr. Jen Welter (Arizona Cardinals), Katie Sowers (Kansas City Chiefs), Jennifer King (Washington Redskins), and Sarah Thomas (NFL Referee)–who have been in the field swinging and plodding away day-in and day-out…each one is making progress for the next.
Similarly, you hanging in there as a mom to your daughter day-in and day-out — this counts for something. Your effort matters because you matter.
Learn the lessons. Make the adjustments. Sharpen your Mom “Spidey” Skills.
I’m still on my second season of Madden Football at the “hard level.” With each game, I pause to consider “what can I learn from each play?” THAT is when the movement and progress started and I began to win a few more games—not by a lot but just enough to win.
“Let the (March) Madness begin!” 🙂
Oh, and regarding your mother-daughter relationship, did you know that there is a way to cut down on the “madness” that can come with mothering a daughter?
My TLMR® Personal Training Program for Moms of Daughters
is a personalized 1:1 program that will equip you
before things get to the next “hard level”
with your daughter.
©Dr. Michelle Deering