Posted by: Kate | January 22, 2007

Bad Sportswife

I’ll do an awful lot for my family. Aside from the typical cooking, cleaning, working when I don’t want to, not throttling when I do want to, and other basics, I also learn about math and space and potty training because it’s important to various family members, and I do get interested – I’m not faking it, I actually care just because someone I love cares.

But I can’t care about sports. I just can’t. Especially football (well, boxing and wrestling, too, but I will not watch those at all, so they don’t count). I find the game too violent and complicated, and it simply does not interest me. I feel like I should care, because Willem cares about sports and I’d like to support him in whatever his interests are… but just like how I can’t fake an enjoyment of certain of the music he listens to (sorry, Opeth, you’re one fan short… but I think the kids like your quiet stuff), I simply cannot bring myself to enthuse about football.

This may become a problem. Yesterday, it somehow came up that not only do I not know the finer points of football, but I don’t know what a first down is. Willem was initially shocked and appalled, followed quickly by an overwhelming need to explain a first down to me. And he was unhappy when I asked him not to. I feel bad about it, honestly I do, but there are some things I don’t want to learn about.

So I’m in this self-imposed existential time-out right now. Would a better wife learn about everything her husband was interested in, just to placate his need to impose sports upon the world, or would she support her own right not to share some interests with him? I just don’t know. I feel guilty that I don’t want to understand the rules of football, but not guilty enough to actually want to learn the rules of football. At all.

He says that since he has made an effort to learn more about my interests – serial killers and knitting, to name two – then I should learn more about his. Which has some validity, but I have already learned lots more about Galileo and watched lots more Mythbusters than I ever would have on my own. So, are there limits?

We’ve had this discussion before. Willem is a consummate teacher, and he derives a lot of joy in being able to communicate knowledge to someone else. I know it hurts his feelings when I ask him not to teach me something. But sometimes I don’t want to know about things, and I’m left feeling like I’m throwing it back in his face, and he feels like I’m stonewalling him. Or something. I don’t know what words he would use.

But let’s widen the net and look at the children (“Just think of the children! Won’t you think of the poor little children?”). I’m happy to enroll Emily in art lessons and took her to a school year’s worth of dance classes on Saturday mornings… and it so happens that I enjoyed those activities myself, once upon a time, so I felt I could share them with her. But trains… model trains, Thomas the tank engine, animated trains… they just don’t rev me up like they do her. She seems okay with this. But should I allow her to pursue indepenedent interests without my presence/interest/interference, or should I involve myself in every aspect of her existence to prove to her that she is loved and attended-to? And what about when Jacob starts developing interests of his own?

Ugh. Just another thing to file under “How much of me is ME and how much of me is Mom/Wife?”


  1. Yuck, I hate football too. I think I may, however, have a general idea of what a first down is…don’t worry, I don’t understand well enough to explain it.
    I think your hubby ought to leave you alone on this one.

  2. Umm, I’m no help here. I’m a rabid football fan that actually leaves her HUSBAND scratching his head at what I’ve turned into…sigh.

  3. I think it’s fair for you to learn just enough about loved ones’ hobbies to ask somewhat appropriate questions or cheer at the correct times if need be.

    When your kids become more train crazy or participate in sports, if you have a base knowledge to ask questions, they can share with you and feel more bonded. And you can mostly just nod and smile at their answers if you sound informed with the questions. 🙂

    I also think this is waaay more applicable for kids than husbands. I spend alot of time with just the smiling & nodding part rather than the asking questions part!

  4. What gypsyhick said!

  5. If you need help with the train info…never mind.

  6. Ewwwwwwww!

    Don’t do it!

    Don’t cave!

    Some things are better left alone.

    I used to be a sports fan. Couldn’t care less now. I snuggle with my laptop and treat the TV as background noise when sports are on.

    Ab-so-lute-ly nothing wrong with not liking EVERYTHING your other half is into.

  7. It is good to have separate hobbies from the hubby…i.e. Golf.

    There are things you do together and then there are things you do apart (i.e. Golf-him, Scrapbooking-me). Therefore, I see no problem in you not wanting to learn football. Children, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing. I don’t know if you have to KNOW or get excited about trains, but at least be excited for the kid. Right? I hope so – because playing Strawberry Shortcake all day long does not thrill me in the least.

    OH – and none of this matters, because you are going to PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Not a big sports fan myself, although if the right basketball team is playing, you might find me sitting there yelling at the television.
    As to the kids’ interests, I think it would be more unhealthy to involve yourself in every aspect of their lives and interests; they need the chance to develop independence and separate interests in order to become well-rounded, self-confident little people.
    Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m doing the ol’ “smile and nod, smile and nod.” Valuable skill, as gypsychick said. 🙂

  9. I like C’est la Kate.

    (Joe isn’t a sports guy. I’m so friggin lucky sometimes)

  10. I suppose I’m a bit like Willem in that I’m also the consummate teacher (in fact, I’m thinking about going back to school in the next 3-5 years to become a HS teacher). We went through this many times, whether it was computers or music or whatever. I always had to be the expert who would be dying to teach Anna about something. Looking through the lens I have now, I’d say that it was just me being arrogant. I think I managed to temper myself before Anna got sick, but I know now that if I had it to do again, I would definitely chill out and if she was interested in whatever my gig was, I’d be thrilled and if not, well, ok. I did find it exciting when Anna had her own interests – she was pretty into knitting and, toward the end, quilting. Both of which are pretty kickass, in my estimation, and still a bit mysterious to me.

    Anyway, don’t beat yourself up about not wanting to learn football. Remind your hubby of the things you have learned from him for him and remind him to be grateful for you.

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