At a recent dance/cardio class, a woman I was conversing with could not believe that I had kids that were fourteen and twelve. She was under the impression I was in my twenties so when I started talking about Full Speed approaching his first year of high school, she almost fell over.
I normally dance in the front row of class and she is always anchored towards the back. It was an easy mistake but also flattering.
I should have kept this story to myself.
You know T.Puzzle, he likes to keep things ‘real’.
He quickly put me in my place and in no uncertain terms shared that the absolute youngest I could pass for was forty-three.
It’s not just T.Puzzle that keeps me in check. I have a minor obsession with birds and flowers. To my delight, I have this magazine app that has several back-issues of Birds and Blooms. It makes my heart happy to peruse the colorful photos and imagine being face-to-face with these adorable, fluttery beings immersed in a sea of flowers.
My struggle comes in the form of this particular magazine’s ads. Hearing aids, orthopedic shoes and various bladder control products are the major themes.
I was curled up in bed as another round of coughing wracked through my body. I had been sick for four days and knew something was not right. My body refused to heal and I couldn’t figure out why.
I had enough sense not to Google my symptoms. In my weakened state any glimpse of doom I might read would derail any chance at wellness.
I croaked out his name and asked him to join me in my room. I asked him to Google dehydration for me.
He sat with me a long time. He patiently read through each symptom discerning what he could share with me in my fragile state and what he could not.
After a few moments, we confirmed it. I was dehydrated. Full Speed helped me formulate a plan to get me feeling better. He went and got me some Powerade.
This made me cry.
This confused him.
I went on to share that I was so proud of him for being a good caretaker. I then confessed that the girl he may or may not have been messaging (he will neither confirm or deny this allegation), made me emotional. Of course I am so happy he has found someone who has peaked his interest (or not), but I am sad he is no longer my ‘baby’.
This made me cry harder. Torrents of tears and emotions poured out of me and nearly washed both of us away.
He continued to sit with me.
He offered words of comfort and reassurance without judgment.
I said, “I don’t know if you realize this, but I am teaching you how to be in a relationship. When your future (current?) girlfriend gets emotional you will be prepared. You will know how to handle it just like you handled this situation with me. In fact, you may wonder if ‘that’s all she’s got?’ because I admit, I may or may not be a tad more emotional than your average woman.”
With that, I let out even more tears. When I was done, he twisted off the cap to my Powerade, handed it to me and left me with a hug.
As he left the room it hit me hard.
I was training him how to be a husband.
In my complete expression of what was in my heart and my mind, I was showing him how to sit with another’s vulnerability.
Showing Full Speed the truth of my inner world is a part of husband training. The other half happened nearly two decades ago. It started the minute I fell in love with Mad Dog.
At the time and being only twenty-four years old, I could not know how he would be as a husband and father years later.
He has far exceeded any expectation I ever had.
Every day he shows my boys what it means to be a husband. They watch how he works tirelessly to provide for us and how he will do anything to make my dreams a reality.
When Full Speed clicked open that Powerade before he handed it to me, he did so after watching years of Mad Dog doing the same.
In no way am I saying that Full Speed is required to get married. It is his life to live and it is frankly, none of my business.
My business is to stay truthful. To continue to be authentic in how I live and love.
Sometimes I am embarrassed by how much emotion bubbles out of me at the most inopportune moments, but it is who I am.
In a way, this may be where my greatest strength originates.
I am lighting the way for love for both my boys.
True love. The love that is most real. The kind that endures the ups and downs of living a life together.
The kind that takes you on unexpected adventures but also finds your heart tucked safely inside gratitude simply by being together.
I had the honor of chaperoning Full Speed and some classmates for their sixth grade trip to Sea World. Thankfully, Mad Dog was able to attend. Trust me, if he can manage a myriad of employees at work, seven twelve-year-old boys were a piece of cake. It helped that they were all well-behaved, too.
As the day drew to a close, Mad Dog escorted our gang back to the bus home and Full Speed stayed with me. We decided to hit one more ride before meeting up with Mad Dog at the exit and driving home separately from the class (all sanctioned by Full Speed’s teacher of course). Of all the things he could pick, Full Speed chose the flamingo-shaped paddle boats. I wasn’t entirely sure this is what he truly wanted, but he’s a smart kid who takes after his Dad. Sometimes you pick the stuff that you only kind of like because you know the important lady in your life would LOVE it. And I did. I really, really did.
After I had paid the fee for our twenty minutes, we fitted ourselves with life jackets and headed to the dock. The attendant quickly went over instructions. He said something to the effect of ‘go left to go left, go right to go right’. He was referencing the way to manipulate the steering apparatus that was centered between our seats. I followed his directions and we were off to the races….but, not really. The harder we pedaled and the more I tried to maneuver us away from the dock, the more we stayed put. Eventually, I was able to get us crookedly angled away as long as we pedaled BACKWARDS. Let’s just say, I shouldn’t quit my day job.
As we slowly and awkwardly floated out to sea, I casually said, “Full Speed, why don’t you try steering?”
He grabbed the control and in less than 30 seconds had us on a straight path. He steered the paddle boat as if he had been doing it his whole life. Turns out, you didn’t ‘go left to go left’. Instead, you actually had to do the opposite. Since I wasn’t particularly prideful about my gaping inefficiencies as a paddle boat captain, I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Apparently, knowing how to actually steer properly makes everything a whole lot more smooth.
As we floated about, I had this out-of-body moment. It was almost as if I was looking at Full Speed as how he could possibly be as a grown man. Not surprisingly, he appeared a lot like Mad Dog.
I thought back to when I was twelve. At that point in my life some fundamental aspects of my personality were formed. My sensitivity, my empathy, and my creativity are all still a part of the grown-up version of me. As I looked at Full Speed calmly navigating the waters before us, I thought if he has even half this amount of ease and confidence as a grown-up, he is going to do just fine.