MamaBlogger365 – Sisterhood of the College Tennis Moms by Nancy Gerber

The Berkshire hills encircle us, protecting us and our sons from the outside world.  They are college men playing championship tennis but for us, their mothers, they could be seven year olds on the T-ball field.   We still care that much about their play, fervently applauding their winning points, worrying about their missed shots, their disappointment.

It’s a game but it’s also more than that.   Two seniors are missing graduation to play in this tournament.   They feel a responsibility to their coach, their teammates, and a sport that has become their art.  Their mothers say with sadness that today’s match is the end of a commitment that started when their sons were young, blossomed during high school, and flourished during four years of college.  They can’t believe this is the last match.

It’s difficult to acknowledge endings.  Just as on the court we mothers can’t guide their rackets or protect them from errors, we know that what’s out there off the courts is far more demanding, uncertain, and maybe treacherous.

We communicate our feelings about their performance non-verbally, in a universal language of hunched shoulders, sighs, smiles, fist pumps.  We feel a strong camaraderie.  Our sons are in this together as a team, so we are freed up to support each other.  In between games we share stories of times long past: the isolation of those early years of motherhood, the partial freedom that came when the boys went off to school, the anxiety of waiting up well past midnight when they were teenagers.

The Berkshires surround us.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  None of us live near each other, and we will not see each other until the season starts again next fall.  Those whose sons are graduating I may never see again.  If only we could stay here forever, cocooned in this sunny, beautiful spot, watching these handsome young men send small yellow balls spinning off into space.


Bio:  Nancy Gerber received her doctorate in English from Rutgers.  She is the author of Losing a Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Caregiving and “My Mother’s Keeper,” an illustrated chapbook describing her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s.

Photo credit: justcola | MorgueFile


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