Every Texans Cheerleader has a busy schedule. Most balance school or full-time jobs with cheerleader practice four nights a week, games on weekends and countless appearances to boot.
Texans Cheerleader of the Week Erica adds something else to that list – her two-year-old son, Ayden. The second-year veteran is the only mother on the team.
How does she do it? Don't ask her teammates.
"Erica amazes me with what she is able to do every day," Lindsay said. "She goes to school and she works and she comes here and she has a son at home. I don't know how she does it all, but she does all of it with a smile on her face and she comes here and she can dance like nobody's business. She is an amazing dancer. She's just has taken control of everything in her life and does a really great job at it."
Cheerleader services manager Alto Gary is equally impressed.
"I know it has to be harder on her as far as juggling the schedule, to get herself together, remember all the routines and all the appearances and plus take care of Ayden," Gary said. "I don't know how she does it. I commend her, because I can barely get myself out the door."
The trick to balancing that maddening schedule, Erica said, is to not think too far ahead about everything piling up on her schedule.
"What I kind of learned last year is that you just really honestly do have to take it day by day," she said. "I'm one that I really don't keep a calendar and I know that sounds probably crazy because of how much I have to do, but it's just a set schedule. I know that I have to go to work and I have to be there until 5:30 and then I head off to practice and I practice and come home from that and I repeat it all over again.
"We're practicing usually Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I don't get to see Ayden on those days at all, and I'm lucky enough to have family that really helps out and Ayden's dad of course just watches him every night and he's amazing. But the nights that I do have with (Ayden) I make sure that I'm spending that quality time with him only – there's nothing else. And you just know that and you go by it.
"So I have to just live it day by day and just appreciate everything that happens to you that day, and that's the most important thing for me. Because if I start thinking about two weeks, I'm like 'Oh my gosh, how am I going to get all this done? I have to do this, do this, and then plus I have to go grocery shopping somewhere and do laundry somehow.'"
The other thing that keeps Erica going is knowing that life will slow down in the offseason.
"I finish the season and I'm like tired for two months," she said. "All I do is eat and sleep for that, it's like hibernation for me during offseason. But you just do it and I love cheering so much and I wish I could do it forever."
On Halloween, HoustonTexans.com caught up with Erica, dressed as a pirate, and Ayden, dressed as a clown. Erica's family gathers at her mother's house every year on Halloween, together making chili and Frito pie, cornbread, brownies, cookies and a family-recipe "Witch's Brew" to drink. Of course, the highlight for Ayden and Erica's younger siblings is the trick-or-treating.
"I cherish moments like this because for us during the season, it just gets so hectic and so every single night or every moment I have with him, I really try to cherish it," Erica said. "And it's hard because it's late, you're tired, sometimes just want to go home and roll into bed and you can't. I see his little face and I just can't help but want to hug him and play or do stuff like this."
Remembering that she herself was a kid trick-or-treating not so long ago, Halloween is a time when Erica realizes how much has happened in her life in a short few years.
"It's so strange – sometimes I realize, 'Oh my gosh, I'm 26 years old and I have a little kid,'" she said. "Where does the time go? I remember I was a clown once, and I kind of think that's where he got the idea of a clown is we were going through pictures and he saw a picture of me as a clown. But I still remember it like it was yesterday. I still feel like a kid.
"It's definitely different. It's an amazing feeling, and until you're a mom or a dad, I guess you don't know how it is until you actually can do it and be there, but it's amazing."
Erica may also be the most stylish mom in town. Her beauty and dancing flair never cease to amaze her teammates.
"Erica is our sexy mom," Lynnette said. "She definitely, when you hear that 'oh she's the mom,' you expect her to kind of go out there and half-step it. But she has that wow factor, and she definitely does the dance moves full out and you can't take your eyes off her. She's blonde, she's beautiful, she's our Erica."