It hit me hard in the final seconds of the Panthers big win Sunday night – when my beloved QC’s skyline lit up blue, when the confetti poured out of the sky and when social media blew up with #KeepPounding and #GoPanthers. It hit me even harder as my kids and I went out around town yesterday – to the mall, to Starbucks, to Panera, to Dick’s Sporting Goods – where the Panthers were THE conversation, the energy was palatable, the play-by-plays were re-hashed in the food court, and hundreds of children sported Panthers gear (our city’s uniform for the next two weeks). It hit me the hardest when an older Belk’s sales lady made conversation with my boys about how amazing (and good looking) Luke Kuechley is (“He’s just EVERYWHERE,” she said). The whole thing – especially the last 48 hours – has made me realize this:
Our kids are so lucky.
We are so lucky.
If you did any time growing up in Charlotte, you know how unbelievable this second Panther’s Super Bowl ride is – how truly incredible (and likable) this particular Panthers team is in general. We never had a “home” team – good or bad. If you were a kid growing up in Charlotte, your team was the Redskins, the Falcons, the Cowboys, or whatever team represented one of your parent’s hometowns. Attending a professional football game was crazy talk, and the thought that that professional football team would represent your hometown was unthinkable.
We’ve had twenty years to get used to the idea, but somehow this year is different to me. Somehow being a parent during this Super Bowl ride makes it all the more special.
Sure, it was unbelievable twelve years ago when we were in the Super Bowl. But, twelve years ago, my family – my little “team” – was yet to be. I was pregnant with my first. I had no concept of what was to come. I just had no idea what raising little football fans would feel like.
I had no idea my first girl would be followed by three boys. I had no idea how much the first girl could love her dad (I guess I had some idea because I have the best dad ever, but I didn’t know how it would feel to watch that relationship develop) or how much she’d love football because of him. I had no idea that she – even as a tween – would want to watch every game with her dad, and that I would feel so darn proud when she (correctly) yelled “Off Sides!”
I had no idea what it would feel like to wrestle with my first born son through a year-long “phase” where he wouldn’t take the Panther’s jersey off. I had no idea what it would feel like to play quarterback in the backyard for countless hours while my third received catch after catch to the huge applause of an invisible audience (I actually still have no idea how to throw a football – I’m working on it). I had no idea what it would sound like for my fourth to scream, “First down, Panthers!” because twelve years ago I couldn’t even imagine him let alone his voice.
I also had no idea how many times I would wash Panthers jerseys, Panthers socks, and Panthers hoodies (I really had no idea what real laundry was) or how exhausting it would feel to never really “catch up” on laundry.
I had no idea what it would feel like for my husband and me to watch our hometown team surrounded by forty little toes, forty little fingers, and four large mouths all nestled on one big couch. I also had no idea what it would feel like to watch my dad, also a native Charlottean, grin from ear to ear as he cheered for his hometown team with a swarm of grandchildren on his lap.
It’s taken this Super Bowl trip to confirm what I really already knew: as parents living in Charlotte today we are SO lucky. We are so lucky that we get to raise our kids with a home team to love. We are so lucky that our kids (if they so choose) have a team that they can follow, cheer for, cry over, and love for a lifetime (Super Bowl trip or not!). We are so lucky that our kids have a team that
might will take them on another Super Bowl ride when they are adults raising kids of their own.
Twelve years ago I knew what it was like to be a Charlottean, but I had no idea what it would feel like to raise a Charlottean.
And for the next two weeks, it feels pretty good. 🙂
Go Panthers!! #KeepPounding