Bartman did not break my Chicago Cubs fan heart in 2003 – it was already broken. I could blame Steve Garvey in 1984 or Will Clark in 1989.
You see, I was sucked into the Cubs-fan-misery at birth. My dad grew up on the south side of Chicago but elected to root for the lovable losers on the north side.
We went to a game at Wrigley Field every year. I remember once freezing at a mid-June game. We sat in the highest row in the stadium, right behind home plate – covered in shade and whipped by the wind from the lake shore.
Through the years of rooting for the Cubbies, I’ve become predisposed to a “hope for the best but expect the worst” mentality. This is the frame of mind that had me celebrating last night as my team claimed the Central Division title and, simultaneously, tempering my optimism because of the unfinished business that awaits in October.
For the first time last night, as I drifted off, I realized that my fandom has bled into my parenting.
I realized that in many ways, I parent like a Cubs fan.
It all begins with hope.
The running joke for Cubs fans is that “hope springs eternal in May” but dries up by the All-Star break.
The same holds true for me at the beginning of each activity for my children.
Initially optimism abounds.
I don’t complain about the additional commitment, the costs or that practices typically start ten minutes late. All this changes about three months into the season where paying $6 for a referee has me fuming, my kid is showing up to practice ten minutes late and I’m lamenting that my Sunday is eaten up by another tournament.
I’m always avoiding the “jinx.”
My household is not subject to the “curse of the Billy Goat” but I still avoid the potential of sabotaging success.
When my 10 month-end daughter slept through the night for the first time, I did not rejoice in my uninterrupted eight hours of silence. Instead, I tried hard to ignore it – writing her snoozing off as a fluke.
For a Cubs fan-parent like me, prematurely celebrating a fluke perpetuates the jinx.
We’ll get them next year.
I can’t count the number of times during my Cubs fandom that I’ve uttered the phrase, “Maybe next year.” In most cases, the statement is either sarcastic or insincere.
I instill a “get-them-next-time” attitude in my kids all the time.
My daughter, Vivi, will get her bridge kick-over next time.
Lynden will get all of his spelling words right on next week’s exam.
Yosef will win the triathlon next year.
My 3 year-old’s tantrums and constant tackling of his little sister will be better tomorrow.
My heart is in the right place.
Cubs fans lead with their heart. Why else would we put up with decades of disappointment? This quality of fans of the north-siders make us, indeed, lovable – even in defeat.
Rightly and other times wrongly, I’ve always favored heart over logic – erring on the side of being kind versus being firm. That parenting strategy could be as naive as it is tender.
In spite of the potential pitfalls that face my kids as a result, I proudly parent like a true Cubs fan.
Like the Cubs, whether I’m successful in raising community-contributing kids will be judged in time.
Unlike the Cubs, though, I hope the path to my kids’ success will not be paved by 100 years of lovable failures.