Who’s ready for some Panther’s playoff action?!!? WHOOT! We are! The entire Smarty team has traded in our pink ‘n green for some serious black ‘n blue. We are SO ready for the game this Sunday and will be cheering loudly from all corners of Charlotte.
In preparation for the game on Sunday, we’ve lined up not one but THREE Smarty Panthers’ Mamas. One whose husband works behind the scenes in Panthers’ corporate, one who works directly with the Panthers as their sports dietitian, and one whose husband is hustlin’ on the field every single Sunday making major plays. All three are moms. All three are doing amazing, inspiring things every single day. We’re featuring one a day (in alphabetical order :-)) until game day and can’t wait for you to meet each one!
First up is Maria Berger. She’s the mother to two teen boys and one almost-teen girl. Her husband, John, is director of sponsorship sales for the Panthers. I’m a little biased because I am lucky enough to call her a dear friend, but Maria is one of the Smartiest moms I know. She’s always full of great advice and has a heart bigger than Bank of America stadium. Her family is made up of die-hard sports fans (Maria being #1 – she’s the most fun to watch a game with), so it’s no wonder John excels at his job. Maria loves her family above all else – even football – and it shines through in everything she does.
The Bergers are the real deal, and one of the biggest reasons is their uber Smarty Mama, Maria. And, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to her right now! Check back in tomorrow to meet our Smarty PANTHERS Mom #2!
Smarties, meet Maria Berger!
Smarty PANTHERS Mom #1: Maria Berger
Married to: John for 20 years this April
Children: Brady 17, Riley 15, Delaney 11
Years in Charlotte: 24 years
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Occupation: RN – pediatrics
Your husband works behind the scenes for the Panthers, but just because he’s not actually on the field doesn’t mean each game isn’t intense for you (I know this because I’ve watched a game with you ;-)). What do you love most about Panther’s football and this year’s team?
I love their passion and that they are having fun. Most of all I love how they treat each other as teammates. I tell my kids to go play their game and have fun…now I have proof it works.
What’s your favorite part of a game – is it a big touchdown play, the crowd, a crushin’ defense, or something else?
I love a great touchdown and a great hit on defense. I love that on both of these whether we are at home watching the TV or at the game, people are doing high-fives to celebrate. It brings you the fan into the game and makes you feel it. I really love how they added fan participation at the game. The big screens point to one side of the stadium to yell “Keep” and then points to the other side who yells “Pounding.”
Most of us only see how hard the players work, but YOU see how hard everyone else associated with the Panthers works as well. What would you tell people about the back office’s dedication to the team?
They work really, really hard. They get there early on game days to make sure everything is ready and don’t leave until well after the game. During the game, they spend a lot of time taking care of current sponsors or prospects, making sure they are having fun and enjoying the Panther game experience. The business side is all year long, too. They don’t have an off season. They are away from family on Sundays, too, and when the season is done, it is their busy time renewing sponsors, etc.
Any pre-game superstitions or rituals in the Berger house? Yes, of course! Everyone has THEIR spot to sit on the couch when at home. Also, when they score, we don’t celebrate until someone yells “Any flags?” If there are no flags, the celebrating begins. When driving to the game, I take the same route every time. I guess it’s like the commercial: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work!” Right?
You’ve been lucky enough to attend some Super Bowl games because of your hubby’s job. Any good celeb spotting stories?
Sure, we have seen TV stars, movie stars and many sports stars. You see them at functions and games. We were sitting in our suite one Super Bowl and looked to the suite to our right – there was Cameron Diaz, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise!
You have two teenaged boys and one almost-teenaged girl. What’s surprised you the most about raising teenagers?
That they still need me (and their dad) and actually like that you love on them. I can’t tell you how many times they say they really look forward to family dinners when we can have them. BUT, I am also surprised how sometimes this only happens when they aren’t missing things with friends. haha Also, they can eat a lot!!
What’s surprised you the least? They still hate homework.
Your oldest is now driving – what would you tell other moms whose kids are on the cusp on this huge milestone?
It is hard at first and you pray a lot. You worry and tell them to text when they get there. Then you have to resist texting them because you don’t want them looking at their phone while driving. But after you get more comfortable, you have to trust that they will be fine (we were fine when we were that age, I keep telling myself) and that you taught them to do the right things. The hardest thing, though, is that once you are comfortable, they don’t want to be home any more.
What advice would you give other moms who are about to embark on the high school years?
Talk to your kids. I ask my kids how their day was everyday. (Anything happen at school?) I really haven’t changed much, I just keep being a mom. Also, know their friends and their parents. When they know you talk to other parents, it helps them behave. When they tell you “no one else is calling the parents whose house the party is at.” Don’t listen to them. Everyone calls. It’s not easy at first, but it is necessary. You will talk to your friends and they will have already called, so you do your due diligence too.
How do you handle social media with your teens?
Phones are plugged in downstairs before bed. No phones in the bedroom at night, and computers are only in the bedroom when doing homework…otherwise downstairs. We also tell them that once something is posted, it is out there. Think about it before you post. Boys don’t post as much as they follow, but even then I warn them about comments, liking, etc. My daughter has to ask me before she posts anything. Also, no anonymous posting sites.
If you could have a parenting do-over, what’s one thing you would do differently with your kids?
Not yell at the refs!!! haha
I’ve gotta say, your kids are some of the politest on the planet. What’s your secret?
God just blessed us! They have a few “old school” rules….
1. Say “Please” and “Thank you.”
2. Hold the door for a lady or the person behind you.
3. Look someone in the eye when talking to them or shaking their hand firmly.
4. Be polite to everyone – your friends, your peers even if not in your group, parents/adults, your friends siblings, even the janitor
You’re the definition of a Smarty Mom because you’re always so full of useful tips – ie paper baskets as snack trays ☺. What are your current top three must-haves to surviving this parenting gig?
1. Phone with “Find my iPhone” so I can find my kids when out! I don’t use often, but it’s there if I worry.
2. A good partner to do the parenting with.
3. Being computer/tech savvy.
You’re also an identical twin! What’s the best part of living life as an identical twin? I am never alone. She is part of me and my best friend. She always says, “We didn’t even have our own womb!” It’s weird. Even at our age we show up places in the same outfits/colors.
Now for some fun Smarty questions:
Best place to go for a date night? Bricktops
Best place to grab a bite to eat at the Bank of America Stadium during a game? Bojangles…one box of chicken supremes feeds both Delaney and I. The boys are working on the field so we don’t have to share!!
Family’s favorite home-cooked meal? Lately, homemade Chipotle bowls.
Best piece of mom advice you’ve ever received? They want you to be their mom…show them how proud you are of them all the time. Lift them up and don’t tear them down…they have enough to stress about.
Parting words before your teens leave for the night with friends? (I know this one but I love it! ☺) OK…here it goes…No sex, no drugs, no alcohol. And of course, I love you!
Favorite beauty product? Mascara
Favorite place to shop for yourself in Charlotte? Athleta
What stresses you out the most? Making sure I’m raising polite/nice kids and that they make the right decisions.
What stresses you out the least? My marriage..another place in life I was blessed.
Favorite thing to do as a family? Sports – kids games, Panther games, etc
Family’s favorite vacation spot? The beach – Wild Dunes
First thing you’d do on a day off? Go to exercise class
Best part of raising a family in Charlotte? Love this city. I love the schools, the community, our friends, the weather/seasons. Although I am an Arizona girl and could do without the humidity.
Finish this sentence: I want my kids to remember me as…the person who loved and supported them MOST!