I’m a March Madness Widow — and Loving It

'I've turned my family's obsession into my gift,' says a very wise (and very realistic) wife and mother

by Deirdre Reilly | Updated 19 Mar 2017 at 9:00 PM

March Madness holds a special place in my particular family history: My husband watched this tournament when we had our first child. Literally — as I was giving birth.

Of course, he did it slyly — he would feed me ice chips that dribbled down the front of my hospital gown because he was missing my mouth. His eyes were glued to the basketball game on the screen.

Why was a grown man dressing in his own football jersey to sit in front of the television?

My doctor said, “How many contractions has she had in the last five minutes?” to which my husband answered, “Umm, I don’t know.”

The doctor also asked him what the game’s score was, to which he answered, “Five minutes to go, MSU is up by 6, two players fouled out and they’re shooting great from the top of the key.”

He also waved our focal point, a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear, at me while keeping one eye on the TV — “Focus on Winnie,” he said encouragingly (if distractedly). But all I could hear was the squeak of 10 pairs of sneakers on the basketball court.

Today, it’s quite a different story. As the mother of three sons, I welcome March Madness — the same way I welcome playoff football games, televised golf tournaments, and post-season baseball. Instead of fighting it, I use it as “me time” in a house full of sports-obsessed males.

This acceptance has been a process, to be sure. As a younger wife and mother, this sports obsession annoyed me. My husband parked in front of the tube meant more laundry, cleaning, and cooking for me. (Younger couples tend to run a secret tally of "who has done what" in their heads, trying to make sure chore lists come out even.)

Plus, I didn't understand the whole idea of being obsessed with sports. Why was a grown man dressing in his own football jersey to sit in front of the television? How did my normally rational husband and sons turn into screaming, hair-pulling wrecks when a ball missed the hoop or a player struck out? Why were they pulling out of the driveway wearing face paint and screaming their team's name in each other's faces?

Related: Seven Great Movies to Help Celebrate March Madness

Today, I'm older — and wiser! Their obsession is now my gift. In families and in marriages, we have to let the others in our lives be different, with different passions and different hobbies. I enjoy watching my guys go nuts over sports, and I enjoy the extra time for myself. While they're crouched in front of the big screen, I'm relaxing with my small screen, watching Netflix on my iPad. I'm also walking, reading, and getting together with friends.

Here's my message to young wives: If you are resentful of sports now, in the future it may be a blessing — so hold on. And find your own passion, one that your husband may need to make room in his life to support.

After all, nobody understands fair play like a sports nut!

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