Years ago I had season tickets to a college football team in a city nearby to ours. I love football and I decided to get season tickets the year the college brought back their football team after decades of not having one. I grew up with my dad having season tickets to our local college football team. I was so excited to bring the kids to games and share my love of football with them. I wanted to buy merchandise and be all in to this team.

The first game was in early August. I was happy with our seats, although they were sort of high. The newly built stadium was in the sun and I got a wicked burn every game. That first game we brought Boy #1 and #2, and Girl, who was 8 months old at the time. It was a huge hassle and we didn’t bring her again. The older boys seemed to enjoy the game, but they wanted to eat. We ate so much of that expense stadium food every game because they had to have it. They each had a hat that we made them wear to keep the sun out of their eyes.

We had awesome people around us. Behind us we had a guy I knew from work and his wife. And I think that first season he sat with another guy I knew from work. That was fun. To our left there was this awesome older couple that was always fun to talk to, although once he gave my oldest a lecture about respecting the national anthem. Directly in front of us was this weird, rotating group of people that I never liked. I think in later seasons, nobody was assigned those seats. That first season, the people to our right were ok. I don’t really remember much about them, because I was always to the left side of our seats.

Two rows in front of us was another family, who had two children who looked to be the same ages as Boy #3 and Girl. I would find out later that their older daughter is about 9 months older than Boy #3, and their son was two weeks older than Girl. I used to stare at the back of this family for way too long, I think. But since they were in front of us, it didn’t look like I was being as creepy as I was actually being.

This family, I admired them so much. I used to think it was because the wife, Kate, was so perfect. She had this baby and was already in amazing shape. She was a classy dresser and she just looked so put together. I wanted to be like her, I thought. But in more years, I have realized that I could never be like her. What made her all of those things I thought I admired was who she was inside. She wasn’t faking anything; this was who she really was on the inside and the outside. She could rock an awesome dress and cowboy boots, or jeans and tall boots with a scarf.

But what I really was doing was watching Mitch. I felt very much like I did as a kid, when I used to watch my uncle with my aunt. Mitch took the baby. Mitch put his arm around Kate, Mitch wore polo shirts and classy pants, Mitch was a good man.

Through the weirdest, strangest, most unpredictable series of events, I ended up becoming friends with Kate. I went to her house a couple of times and met her kids and Mitch. I once spent some time talking to both of them about my plans for the future and what I hoped to be doing after I retired from the military. Both of them were as awesome as they appeared at the football games.

Mitch is the kind of guy who rarely posts on social media, but when he does it’s to say something really sweet to Kate on Mother’s Day, their anniversary, or her birthday. She’s equally sweet to him when she posts too.

I realized recently when she posted about Mitch’s birthday that Mitch is the kind of guy that I always wanted to be. Everything he does is for Kate and their family. He doesn’t even try to be masculine, he is just who he is. You never see him eyeballing hot cheerleaders or being a toxic male. I’m sure he notices those women, but as a respectful husband he doesn’t make it obvious that he’s noticed anyone but his wife.

Now I’m sure they’ve got their struggles and there’s things about Mitch that aren’t perfect, just like anyone else. I think Mitch is a great example for me to keep in my head of how I want to be. I have realized recently that a lot of what exists in my head is toxic masculinity. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be like Mitch and my uncle, who clearly love their wives and would do anything for them. I don’t want to be disrespectful or gross and toxic. I want to be good and kind.

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