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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

Son, your game is just beginning!

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“Sometimes your plans don’t work out because God has better ones."


This is the quote I shared with my son a few weeks when his High School Football season didn't go exactly as planned. As a senior captain of his team and college prospects in view, my son was excited to start his senior year and what he thought would be his best season yet. Enter the real world and as many of us learn, the realities of life when our plans don't always go as expected.

As if parenting isn't hard enough, insert adolescence, it's like navigating uncharted territory, where no man has ever gone before.... duh,duh, duh. Those scrapes and bruises that were once eased with a hug and kiss or a boo boo bunny, have somehow turned into broken hearts, rejection letters or like we recently experienced, the crushing disappointment of a promising senior football year that went awry.

Robert DiLeo Tuckahoe High School Football

The Captains

For my son, what seemed to start out as an ordinary football season, ended with him being one fever and a 2 week concussion short of his best playing year ever. Missing 3 games in an already shortened schedule was not exactly how he expected his senior year to go. On the outside he seemed to be handling it with ease, but as his mother I saw the look of sadness and disappointment written all over his face.

In addition to dealing with the crushing look on my son's face day after day, I was also facing my own realities. I could of course be there for him emotionally or at least try. I knew that despite the heartache I felt for him, this setback he was faced with was not going to be the last and there was no boo boo bunny that was going to make this pain go away. My role as his mother shifted slightly and I knew the way to easing his pain was to help him see that he needs to take this experience and run with it. No pun or punt intended.


After a few weeks on the sidelines he finally returned to play for his last home game ever, they lost. Yet, another disappointment in an already disappointing season. As we headed into what might be his final high school game, the Section Championship, I thought about what I would say to him if they lost the game, knowing the intense sadness he would feel knowing he would never hit the football field again.

I just wanted him to know that even though things did not go as expected these past few months, it would make him a better person and to let him know how proud we are of him everyday not just on game day. That looming feeling of disappointment did not define him as a person but to use it as the catalyst to push through all of life's challenges because there is always something better ahead.


Although this may seem like it is about football, it is really about how we can prepare our young adults for the challenges they will face ahead in life. As much I wanted to wipe away his tears of sadness, I knew this was the exact moment to step back and let him process all of this on his own. I will always be there for him no matter what it's not the disappointments that we face that are the test it is how we use them to make us stronger.


Photo: Ryais Photo

My son:

I’m literally sitting here typing this letter to you in the car driving to your last Section 1 - football championship with tears welled up in my eyes. I’m just overwrought with emotion as I realize this is yet another day in a year of “lasts. 😢

Where did time go?! It’s like I swiped right and you are almost an adult. Not just any adult but one that makes me wonder everyday what I did to deserve a great kid like you. I know sometimes I put my crazy “mom goggles” on but hey, that’s what Mom’s do and nobody will ever have your back like me.

I remember when you were like 8 or 9 and we were walking into church this man stopped us and said “now that’s a football player”. I thought NEVER. I didn’t get much say in that. I remember your 60 yard touchdown with one shoe. They never could stop you when you had that ball, could they. I also remember when you broke your thumb playing with dad across the street because it was never enough football.

The stories are endless and your passion just grew from there. And now here we are today and you are a senior in high school..

No matter what happens at this game, just know it’s not your skill that makes you a winner but your humility, perseverance and loyalty. You lead by actions not by empty words. You never need accolades and actually, never look for them. That my son is everything! Much like dad, when you say something people should listen.

I know this wasn’t the season you had hoped for. You were definitely thrown some unexpected turnovers and setbacks that someone else might not have handled as well. I’m sorry you were disappointed, but that’s life kid. It’s also the key to success. As you’ll learn, things will not always go as expected. BUT never quit and always push through because there’s always something better waiting for you on the other side. I promise you!

I know it might not seem like it right now, but your game is just beginning. Dad and I are SO very proud of you!! I might need some extra kleenex to get through this year though. #forever42 🖤 “


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