Full Speed and I were out for a stroll. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and life was good. We had already sufficiently dissected the latest Cubs news and the topic of conversation switched over to Full Speed’s possible future family. When this topic arises I try very hard to be normal. If you know me at all, normal is a huge stretch. By normal I mean non-reactive. I don’t ever want him to feel he needs to get married and have kids. If it happens great, but if not, that’s fine by me, too. So, there I was being cool and calm. He then noted that I may be what might be considered a lenient (?) grandmother. I feigned shock. How could he surmise such an idea I asked? Well, it has something to do with how I treat my dog. Apparently I ‘baby’ him? This is shocking to me!! I merely treat him in a way that all pet owners should treat their animals. I simply set the bar high in this regard.
Full Speed then went on to share an imagined scenario of me interacting with his future child.
Future Awesome Grandchild: “Grandma, I accidentally murdered your next door neighbor.”
Future Awesome Me: “Oh, that’s okay little Sunshine. I know you didn’t mean it and I didn’t really like them any way (not true, I have some great neighbors for the record).”
Full Speed did this whole bit in a sing-songy way implying that I may be the Snow White of all Future Grandmothers.
All I can say is that if Grandmotherhood is in the cards for me, I’m gonna crush it.
There’s something about the holiday season that makes me nostalgic. I was feeling especially this way as I prepared for T.Puzzle’s final classroom party to close out 2016. Once he hits fifth grade next school year, no parents allowed. While I am not a fan of noisy, crowded classrooms, I am a fan of T.Puzzle. I made the most out of this last hurrah and the party was a roaring success (thanks to some fantastic room moms and T.Puzzle’s awesome teacher).
As I left school grounds that day, I was overcome with memories. The closer I got to the exit, the younger the students became. Seeing the kindergarten hall and their haphazard decorations lining the way, reminded me of when Full Speed and T.Puzzle began their academic journey here. Hard to believe Full Speed is closing in on the last few months of his time at this school (K-6).
That night at dinner as I sat down to eat with my boys, I shared a little of what I was feeling. Being that they are boys, I know I have to temper some of what I say. If I said every feeling thought I had, they would likely avoid me like the plague.
Me: “Full Speed, how do you feel about moving to middle school next year? I’m excited for you but I’m sad that you are leaving elementary school. Your school is so great and it’s been such a good fit for you and T.Puzzle.”
Full Speed: “I’m ready to move on and looking forward to the change.”
Me: “Do you both realize that after this year is over, you boys won’t be in the same school again until Full Speed is a junior in high school?”
My heart caught in my throat a little as this realization began to sink in. I love having them at the same school. This school is all we’ve ever known. I’m not ready. I’m certain I’ll never be ready for a change of this magnitude.
Me: “How do you boys feel about that?”
T.Puzzle raises his arms over his head and brings them sharply into his body at a right angle while shouting “CHA-CHING!!!!!”
Yeah, I think the boys are going to be just fine, don’t you?
Mad Dog and I were seated 15 yards back from the end zone. Our panoramic view of the field added to the excitement. T.Puzzle was at QB calling the shots and Full Speed was zipping up and down the field at a breakneck pace.
Sounds amazing, right?
It kind of was and it kind of wasn’t. There are many perks to having the boys on the same flag football team such as shared practices and games. There are also many pitfalls. Let’s just say there are days when egos collide and managing the talent is way above my pay grade.
Even though their flag season was a mixed bag of victories and defeats, I am grateful that I get to watch these boys from the sidelines. Besides, I’m feeling generous because I am a World Series Champion! Yes, it was a long road and a lot of hard work, but I hung in there. Don’t worry, I haven’t let success go to my head.
In the spirit of full disclosure, success actually has gone to my head a little bit. As it happens Mad Dog and I are predominantly featured in a recent World Series recap. It premiered on FS1 and is available for DVD purchase. Well, we are flashed on the screen for a millisecond or two, but it still counts. Here’s proof the Cubs couldn’t have won without me.
Now that I’ve sufficiently addressed my newfound celebrity status, here’s a breakdown of the rest of my team:
Let’s start with T.Puzzle. This is the child that continues to confound me. He is overly opinionated and strong-willed yet gets glowing reviews from teachers and coaches. Often, after another flip comment has escaped his adorable face I’ll say something like, “wow, raising you is the challenge of a lifetime.” His instant response is, “because I’m so awesome, right?” Something like that. He’s something alright.
T.Puzzle continues to loathe school, adore video games and aggravate his brother. He’s entering the double digits age-wise. I have a feeling I may need to start another blog dedicated to coping with T.Puzzle’s impending milestone decade. The truth is, he is completely true to himself and even though he challenges me a lot, I know he is always going to land on his feet.
Full Speed is transforming before our eyes and becoming a kind and thoughtful young man. Thankfully, he still has a great sense of fun and is loving his Extended Studies this year with its focus on improv. He loves school, reading, reading and oh, did I mention reading? He is a walking encyclopedia of sports facts and stats. This was really helpful for me, especially as I got farther into my World Series winning season. Chicago thanks you, Full Speed!
Then, there’s Mad Dog. He continues to excel at work. There I reasons I love this and reasons I don’t love this. I love this because I can tell that he is feeling challenged and inspired by all his new and varied responsibilities. He’s also an incredible leader. I am very proud of him and like that he remains humble and grounded. I don’t love this because he is often working long hours and has to travel. I’m not a huge fan of sharing Mad Dog with the world, but I get it. He’s awesome and the world needs him. So, I let him go with love.
As for me, it really all boils down to this. I realized that I am my truest, most genuine self when I am in the company of these three incredible men and they all accept me exactly as I am. My goal for the coming year is to be the self that is loved by them when I am out in the world. It is easy in concept but hard in execution. I’m not sure if the world is ready for an empath like me. All I know is that if I have these guys in my corner, then what the world thinks of me is less important. In fact, for any of you reading this, I encourage you to be your truest self in all circumstances. The only approval you actually need is your own.
Wishing you a Blesssed Holiday Season, a Bright and Merry New Year and above all else Love.
Mad Dog and I looked at each other. The stakes were high. Do we roll the dice? Do we go all in? Do we leave it all on the field?
Yes, yes and yes.
So what if we watched The Professor lose by a painfully tiny margin at game 3? So what if we might see Cleveland take the Series at Wrigley? So what if the price tag for tickets made me silently weep?
THE CUBS WERE IN THE WORLD SERIES!
There had already been so many tears. Tears when we made it to the World Series realizing I couldn’t share that moment with my mom. Tears when we lost game 3. Tears, tears and more tears. You may wonder why I allow myself to be a part of something that makes me cry so much. It’s in my genes. I can’t not bleed Cubbie blue any less than I can’t not breathe. After 42 years of being a Cubs fan, I figured tears were always going to be a part of it. I knew that ultimately if I was heartbroken again, I would rise up and keep on cheering…and crying for my team.
Mad Dog and I went for it and got the tickets. We figured we would rather face our fears than live with regret.
Every pitch we watched was like taking a bullet. I had to keep asking Mad Dog ‘Are you sure about the money? Will you be able to let it go no matter what?’ He reassured me he was fine but I could see the worry in his eyes. He was concerned that his extremely sensitive wife would not recover from witnessing a loss of this magnitude at her beloved Wrigley Field. He was probably right.
Game 5 felt different than game 3. Maybe it was when Anthony Rizzo changed his walk-up song to the Rocky theme that embers of hope began to ignite. Maybe it was Kris Bryant’s solo home run that shifted the tides of momentum in our favor. Maybe it was my lucky socks. Maybe it was finally damn time that the baseball gods realized the Cubs were due.
By the end of the game I felt faint. The standing, the cheering, the adrenaline all were taking their toll. Chapman’s heroic 8 out save to send us back to Cleveland was the most stressful stretch of a baseball game I have ever seen. Game five was epic. Only to be outdone by game 6 which gave way to the greatest single game 7 in the history of baseball.
When the final out of game seven was called, I think you know where this is going…
Tears, tears and more tears.
Finally tears of joy.
Thanks to the Chicago Cubs, I will now always believe in miracles.
Some evenings the stars do not align and my boys have practices at different times. This is never a problem if Full Speed is the one waiting for his start time. All I have to do is bring a book for him and he is content to wait it out. T.Puzzle is more complicated. Sometimes he likes books and sometimes he hates them. Sometimes he’s chatty and sometimes he is belligerently bored. And, being that I am a stubborn sort myself, I don’t allow electronics during the week. Basically, I’m stuck with him for better or for worse. Recently, I’ve been able to embrace this time with him a little bit more. Working on word puzzles with him is a good bet and I find his self-centric worldview to be incredibly entertaining.
As we were sitting in my car waiting for his practice time I was overcome by a wave of love for him. You remember the kind maybe? It’s like that moment when you crept into your child’s room to gaze upon them when they were small and peacefully asleep. Watching the sweet rise and fall of their chest made you feel like your heart would burst right out of yours. That is the best feeling and one I felt I wanted to share.
“You are so cute!” I gushed.
T.Puzzle’s instant response with dimples blazing, “I know.”
This kid. He thinks he is the G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time).
A few weeks back I got a call from his school informing me he had hit his head. All was well but recently he asked me about it. How did I know he didn’t have a concussion? I said that the school nurse had asked him a bunch of questions that he answered correctly and that indicated he was fine. What were the questions he wanted to know?
“Well, she asked you who your favorite person in the whole world was and you said ‘my mom’ and that’s how we knew you were okay.”
“I know your lying, Mom. That couldn’t be true. If the nurse did ask me that the answer wouldn’t be you, it would be me. I am my favorite person in the whole world.”