I saw the 2010 Red River Rivalry from great seats at the Cotton Bowl.

As an OU basketball recruit, my daughter was allowed to bring her family to the game.

It was fun and all, but I didn’t have a dog in the fight.

This year everything’s different.

We are officially a Sooner family, my daughter a freshman shooting guard on the OU women’s basketball team.

It’s something we honestly didn’t see coming back in 2010, since her independent self had always wanted to go to college far, far away from home.

But Coach Sherri Coale, her coaching staff, and those ridiculously special OU basketball players changed everything.

I couldn’t be more thrilled.

This year, as OU battles TX for bragging rights, not only are we Kornets emotionally invested in every play–since Nicole’s teammate is married to OU’s quarterback– but I am personally indebted to OU for saving me from empty nest despair.

I’m not exaggerating.

As I shared in this summer’s Fort Worth Texas magazine with two of my three kids off to college, I’ve suffered serious feelings of loss.

But last weekend something shifted.

My daughter got sick.

Living less than three hours away from OU, my husband and I hopped in the car, headed for Norman, and nursed Nicole back to health.

I felt like a mom again. And I realized I will always be one. Thus, I must seize this stage and enjoy it for the new experiences it provides.

Thankfully one of those experiences is the campus-wide day off every Friday before the Red River Rivalry. Which means two of my three kids are home this weekend, filling it with laughter as we cheer on OU from even better seats than in 2010–the Kornet living room couch.