**Ed. Note: Let’s welcome Mandy, our newest contributor. She’s going to be providing ATVS with a bit of a different spin than what we’re used to. You can follow more of her musings on parent hood at her blog here. Hope y’all enjoy! - Billy**
From the very beginning, my relationship with my husband has had one common thread, LSU football. Although we went to high school together, our paths never crossed until college. We had a mutual friend and would often run into each other at LSU football games. The majority of our pre-children fall Saturday's were spent watching the game together either at home, a bar or the stadium while enjoying adult beverages and whatever bar food concoction my husband requested that week (one word: tot-chos).
Our football, beer and pub food filled falls came to a screeching halt in 2012. Our first child was born two weeks before football season started that year, and our twins were born mid-season two years later. It came as quite a shock to us, especially my husband, how hard it would be to watch a full game in real time, let alone enjoy the experience. I liken how my husband felt to how I felt during my first pregnancy, like I had been slapped in the face. Why had no one told him that the baby wouldn't want to sleep for the whole game regardless of the time of day or that his wife would hurl a bag of frozen french fries at his head when he asked for loaded cheese fries?
So as we approach the first game of the season, I feel like it is my duty to prepare new dads and moms for what to expect during your first football season as new parents.
Just as you would if you we're approaching imminent death, now is the time to get your affairs in order. Gone are the days of watching the game in real time. I'm sure you have already set your DVR to record each game so you can refer back to your "game film" throughout the week. This is a given. You're also going to want to remove yourself from the group texts for game time. What's worse than missing a touchdown in real time? Being told about it beforehand.
Don't forget about preseason. My husband's fantasy football draft was scheduled around the same time as my due date. He spent the majority of my third trimester trying to line up the right mobile device to participate in the draft from the hospital, because "there will probably be a lot of down time." I ended up having the baby almost a week early, so I didn't get the opportunity to watch this play out. I couldn't tell you what he ended up doing because...one week old baby.
We were still in the hospital with the twins for a Florida game, and it wasn't available on the hospital tv's basic cable stations. In a strange turn of events, I was the one concerned about missing the game, not my husband. He's come a long way, that guy.
In hindsight, it probably had a lot more to do with the fact that my blood pressure wouldn't go down, and he was worried that the babies would be discharged before me. For him, the possibility of leaving the hospital with twins without his wife trumped missing a football game. You have to determine your own line in the sand.
Like I said earlier, our first child was born in August and our twins were born in October, so I have a lot of experience with newborns and infants during football season. Guys, if you're anything like my husband, you envision yourself in your favorite chair with a beer in your right hand and a content baby in your left arm, both of you watching the game and bonding over a mutual love of football. Ladies, you probably had a similar vision, but you were watching said bonding experience with eyes half open and possibly on the verge of a glorious nap. Nope. The reality is that the baby is screaming and flailing which causes dad to spill that beer all over himself and the baby while mom is rolling her eyes and saying, "just give her to me."
If you somehow manage to have a sleeping baby at any point during the game, the "you wake, you take" rule comes into play. I know you guys feel like you actually played the game with the team if you yell out instructions or cheer after a good play, but you have no one to blame but yourself for waking the baby. Your wife will definitely be handing you that crying baby. I suggest you master the silent fist pump or air-five to your wife. Don't worry. Your team still considers you a valuable player.
You'll soon realize that baby's schedule takes precedence over game time. As a novice parent, you might get the urge to finagle the schedule and let the baby sleep an extra half hour or skip tummy time. Don't. We foolishly attempted to bathe our first baby before game time once. She sensed the change and refused to go to sleep, reminding us once again that we are no match for baby buzzkill.
There are some benefits. You now have one more person in the house to help with superstitious attempts at increasing LSU's odds of winning. I remember a particularly close game that involved four outfit changes for my two month old. And then there is...hmm, never mind, there's only one benefit. That's it.
I'm sure you've picked up on the fact that this advice has revolved around watching from home. If your wife doesn't object to you leaving for an entire Saturday to go to a game during the baby's first two months, then you have married a goddess and should worship at her feet. The end.
Now, if you are both able to attend, that's another story. My husband and I made this happen when our first baby was three months old. I'm not sure if we would have attempted this had it not been for friends being in town to experience their first LSU football game. For a single drunken moment, we remembered what it used to be like, and it was glorious. Then, morning came way too early, and we officially experienced our first hangover as parents. Unfortunately, baby doesn't care that you have a headache and are on the verge of vomiting. She throws up all the time and has zero sympathy for your current condition.
So far, we have been parents going on our fifth football season. As it is with most of parenting, it doesn't get easier. You are just faced with different challenges. Our biggest hurdle at the moment is the negotiation that takes place every Saturday with our four year old. She has definitely become wise to my husband's desperation to watch football all day and cashes in big time. By January, she is requesting football because she knows it means more treats and longer iPad times. Again, this is a personal decision. You'll have to decide how rotten you want to make your toddler in order to watch the game. When it's all said and done though, you'll have children that truly understand what their priorities in life should be...forever L-S-U!