I was having a moment. I had been cruising through the week and then, I wasn’t. Mad Dog has been gone for over a week and won’t get back for a few more days.
I have no reason to complain. My boys are older and they are about a thousand percent easier to manage compared to when they were small. We also do lots of fun stuff together like special dinners out and movie marathons. It isn’t perfect but it works.
However, we all miss Mad Dog and after a while, this feeling of missing him creeps over us and then it’s harder to be our best selves.
Yesterday, as I tried to order Full Speed’s track uniform (yay! He made the track team! So what if all he had to do was show up, basically, he made the team at ‘hello’, still….he made the commitment to be on a team…woo-hoo!), I lost it. Why? Part of it was that it was about my one-hundredth action item of the day, and the other part was that Full Speed is one of the hardest kids in the world to find clothes that fit properly. I can’t explain it but he always seems to fall in between regular sizing. I had stared at the computer screen completely flummoxed as to what size to purchase when I finally pulled the trigger. As I printed out the receipt I realized after all that agonizing, I had ordered the wrong size! Yes, in the grand scheme of life it is no big deal, but it felt really big right then and I started to cry.
Full Speed came over to me, put his arm around my shoulders and said:
“It’s okay, Mom. Everyone makes mistakes. I just appreciate you buying the uniform for me. I know you miss, Dad, too. Because you miss him that’s probably really why you are upset. I understand.”
I had to admit, the kid made some good points.
Then, it dawned on me…I got ‘mommed’.
He basically said every exact thing I would say to him if the tables were turned.
I’m grateful he had the empathy to comfort me. Nice that some of what I say to him sticks.
Today was better.
Here I will share a photographic art installation which symbolizes how well I am managing.
As a mom I wear many hats. Personally, my favorite is a Cubs baseball cap, but here are a few others that I inhabit:
– Chinese leftover reheater
-Dog walker and trainer (the latter may be easily disproved in a court of law or more likely, upon meeting our wildly energetic adopted dog, let’s just say, girl gets by on her looks…a lot).
-Extremely empathetic validator of the universe’s feelings
-Friend, mother, writer, sister ….and the list goes on and on.
Now the hat that many don’t know about and that I keep a closely guarded secret is…
-Spelling bee prep consultant
I have a track record of helping one young man place second in the whole county….
Cool trophy, right?
Anyway, given my illustrious track record, it only makes sense now that this young man’s brother is going to compete at his school’s spelling bee, he would reach out to an elite spelling instructor such as myself. So, that’s where we are at. I am now helping T.Puzzle prepare for his grade school spelling bee. Truly, the only special skills I am bringing to the table are the ability to read words from a list (out loud, no less!) and patience. I don’t mind the sometimes repetitive process as long as my spelling padawan is focused. So far, T.Puzzle has that in spades. Here is a recent example of the elite-type of training that I offer.
Me: “Correct” (as in, he is correct, not please spell correct, I think you get the idea, so let’s move on to a word in which more elite spelling instructing is needed for clarification)
T.Puzzle: “Use it in a sentence, please.” (he didn’t really say please, I just added it in for my own creative spin as moms-who-love-manners are wont to do)
Me: “Little brothers are pesky to their older brothers.” (see what I did there? I made it relatable to my subject…genius).
I’m about to share with you a highly effective yet secret way you can stalk look-out for your seventh grader. It’s so top-secret that if your name is Full Speed, you must immediately stop reading this and step away from this blog post. I’m totally serious. You do not have a high enough security level clearance, and more importantly, you would be on to me. Walk away, Full Speed. Walk away.
Part one of my secret plan is that you have to get a dog well in advance of your middle-schooler having to take the bus to school. I’m talking maybe a decade or so in advance. Trust me, this will help you seem credible when the chips are down. After you have secured your status as a dog owner, you have to start walking them religiously to the point you become well-known in your neighborhood as the ‘dog lady’ which, let’s hope, references your dog ownership and NOT your appearance. Anyway, you have to walk the same route day after day. You must casually interact with all the middle schoolers who hang out at the bus stop at the end of your subdivision. This part is actually pretty awesome because you get to bring some levity to their day and your dog will love the attention. If you want to be extra sneaky, get TWO dogs. I’m telling you, middle schoolers will love you for it. The more fluffy appreciation they receive to start their day, the more you fit in under the radar.
Once you have this routine solidly on lock-down, then it seems completely normalfor you to check-in on your own kid when the time arrives for him to join in the morning band of middle-schoolers. Again, it’s awesome to have your dogs bring so much happiness especially now that your own kid is included in the bunch. See? Stealth stalking supervision complete!
And, I will neither confirm or deny at this point because my plan is working so beautifully, but it’s possible my fluffy companions are robotic stunt dogs.
In every woman’s life there are defining moments. There are milestones such as college graduation, falling in love, having children, etc. Once children are a part of the picture, suddenly their milestones become our treasured markers of the passage of time. For instance, the first time Full Speed reached earnestly to play with a toy hung from the arm of his baby carrier, I was overjoyed. I was convinced by this simple act that I had given birth to a certified genius. We were at the mall and the air was heavy with the scent of salty pretzels and my overblown perceptions of my ‘super baby’. Still, it was an awesome moment and to this day whenever something great befalls my kiddos, it’s like it is happening to me as well.
That’s why when my boys lined up against the backstop at Wrigley Field before the start of the game, I was giddy with anticipation. Mad Dog had arranged for them to be part of the nine lucky kids that got to run on the field and meet a player. We had no idea which player it would be. We hoped for the best and made peace with the worst (you know who you are). I was seated alone and peered anxiously at them to see where they would run. Once given the signal, they were to sprint to the position that would coincide with the player they would meet.
I almost couldn’t take it. Who would they get?!? Who!?!
Finally, they were off and running. It seemed obvious Full Speed was headed towards the outfield. But then, oh my god, T.Puzzle ran to FIRST BASE! He was going to meet ANTHONY RIZZO! I repeat….ANTHONY RIZZO!
Is it obvious he’s my favorite player? Hmmm, what gave it away?
I jumped for joy and screamed so loud the fans in my section thought I had lost my mind. I was able to compose myself enough to articulate that both my kids were out on the field and one was meeting ANTHONY RIZZO. This made sense to them, but I could tell they still thought I was mildly insane.
T.Puzzle had a brief exchange with Anthony (yeah, I’m now on a first name basis with him), and got him to autograph a baseball (proudly on display in our front room). It took all of two minutes but for me, it is a defining moment that still brings me great joy.
Full Speed was sent to right field and had a lengthier exchange with near-giant Jason Heyward (well, giant compared to Full Speed and most of America). J-Hey was so genuine in what he said to Full Speed, he is now Full Speed’s favorite Cubs player. I love that, clearly he is a player that is gracious and I’m so glad he had such a positive impact on Full Speed.