Our latest post in the Why I Love Series is by Katherine Stone.
I used to have a Mike Singletary t-shirt. If you know me and my intense obsession with fashion, you’re probably pretty surprised to hear that. God, I loved that shirt. Singletary was a hero to me, with his intensity and singleness of purpose. I wore that shirt all the time. I wish I still had that shirt. I’d wear it. I would.
My adoration of Singletary, and football in general, started in high school. We lived in Chicago at the time, and my dad watched the Bears. It just so happens that this was in the mid-80s.
Yep. Those Bears.
I began watching games because I wanted to hang out with dad. I was a teenager. I was awkward and weird, and not at all sure how to connect with my father. I wasn’t exactly daddy’s little girl anymore. So I sat next to him on the couch and started watching him watching football. I saw how much he enjoyed it. How animated he was. How he yelled and screamed at the TV until he was hoarse. Before long, I was yelling and screaming too.
The Chicago Bears of 1985 were a great team for a young girl who was being introduced to the game. Full of personality and attitude. Jim McMahon and his crazy headband messages. (A precursor to Twitter, perhaps?) The Fridge. Walter Payton. It wasn’t just about great football. It was the fact that each person was so unique and had a story, a narrative. The smarty Gary Fencik. The ballet dancer Willie Gault. I fell in love with all of them, as did my dad.
We were joined together in our fandom, father and daughter. Sundays were fun, and became increasingly so as the Bears kept winning. I wasn’t hanging out in my room, alone. I was hanging out with dad, and I felt more and more connected to him as the season progressed.
And then? The Bears were going to the Super Bowl. It was like WE were going to the Super Bowl.
I immediately went and bought my very own 45 of the Super Bowl Shuffle. For those of you who aren’t old like me, a 45 is a small vinyl record that was played on something called, appropriately enough, a record player. (“I’m the punky QB known as McMahon …”) I listened to that thing over and over.
I wish I could recall more details of January 26, 1986. I’m sure my mom made her homemade potato skins. I’m almost positive I made onion dip, the kind created from a package of dry soup and sour cream. I know it was a full-day celebration, capped off by a glorious victory. I’m sure we danced and cheered and hugged, but I can’t see it in my mind’s eye any more.
I no longer have that Singletary t-shirt, or the Superbowl Shuffle record. The only thing I have left is my yellowed, tattered copy of the entire Chicago Tribune from the following day. I asked my dad if I could keep it, and he said “Sure.”
I don’t think I realized how much that team impacted my life until the day Walter Payton died. I was 29 years old, and when I heard the news I cried like a baby. Walter was amazing, that team was amazing, and the time I spent with my dad was amazing.
Football gave me something I could share with my father at a time when I thought we didn’t have anything in common at all. Thanks, Bears.
Katherine Stone is a nationally-recognized, award-winning peer advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She created and writes Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog in the United States on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. Katherine is also BlogHer.com’s ongoing guest contributor for the topic of PPD, and her work has been featured on Mamapedia, Babble.com, the Huffington Post, NBC’s Todays Moms, ParentDish and PBS’ This Emotional Life. You can find her on Twitter at @postpartumprogr.
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