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Sacrifice your moments of quiet for ones that make memories

This pickup game of basketball on the driveway on a recent Saturday almost didn’t happen

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For Arianne Brown, sacrificing a moment of quiet to play a pickup game of basketball with one of her sons was where she got something much better.

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The score was 19-19, and we were each just one shot away from scoring the winning basket in a game to 21 points. It was his ball, and if he scored, he could end the game. 

This pickup game of basketball out on the driveway on a recent Saturday almost didn’t happen.

It was near dusk and I was tired from a day filled with all things related to being a mom of nine children. There’s the constant changing of diapers, wiping of noses and countertops (not with the same wipe), and keeping bathrooms sanitary or at least not smelling like the color brown. We had soccer practices, nap times, meals, and then cleaning up after those meals. Laundry — don’t even get me started. Why, oh why, do we need to eat and wear clothing? I ask myself this daily.

If cleaning up after children wasn’t enough, the trees and other outdoor plants emptied all their messes and decaying parts all over my yard without even considering my life circumstances. A couple of hours in the yard later, we’d finally cleaned up after those messy plants that didn’t even thank us; they only offered life-sustaining oxygen. The nerve. 

Yet, after all that, after dinner was made and cleaned up, when all the little kids were off being content with bellies full, there was a moment. One moment — a millisecond — where I stood and had no immediate messes to clean, no crying babies or pressing scheduled items. As soon as that moment came, it was interrupted by my 12-year-old son Ace asking me to play basketball with him. 

I’ll be honest, I hesitated and had my flash of “there went my moment,” and I sulked. I made excuses in my mind like, “I don’t have basketball shoes,” and “I don’t feel like getting sweaty.” I looked at his nearly 6-foot wingspan compared to my… who’s counting anyway?

With all my excuses, I just couldn’t say no. 

Sure, things started out a little rough, with Ace laughing at me in my rustiness. It didn’t take long before I was back to my well-oiled self, and then it was game on. I went up 5-0 with a 3-pointer, followed by a drive to the hoop. Realizing his mom had game, Ace stopped laughing. Soon it was 7-5, still mom leading. I maintained my lead through 16 points with a three-point lead. Then came a 3-point shot to tie things up. Then a well-placed layup that drew a blatant foul that Ace could not deny, brought back my three-point lead. And one! Boo-yah!

At 19-16, I had it in the bag, or so I thought. A 3-pointer by Ace brought us back to a tie position. 

The score was 19-19, and there we stood. The next made basket would take it all in this game to 21. At that moment, you could feel it. It was palpable. Neither of us wanted to lose — or win. We didn’t want it to end. The next shot represented a moment that would be over. I shot it with a little less precision this time to buy myself more time. Ace did the same, as he didn’t square up to the basket or release the ball the way I taught him when he was little.

“Bang-swish!” went the sound of the ball as it hit the backboard and dropped through the hoop. Game over.

With ball in hand, Ace stood there looking at me, I at him. 

“Next point wins?” we both said in unison. 

The next point did not win, nor did the following, as we kept playing until dark. 

I may have sacrificed my moment to myself, but I got something much better. I got basketball with my boy.

Arianne Brown is a mom of nine, who writes for many local and national publications. She finds solace at home with her family and logging miles anywhere her feet will take her. Many of her writings can be found by searching “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. Contact her at ariannebrown1@gmail.com.