For some reason, turning 44 this week feels auspicious.
Maybe it’s because it’s my favorite baseball player’s number.
Whatever the reason, I am ready for the new year and feel like whatever comes my way will change me for the better.
I thought getting older would mean I would relax on a plateau of wisdom. As if each birthday was a step closer to the truth about life.
Quite the opposite actually.
I have more questions than ever before.
Through the uncertainty, a few things remain constant.
The first being is once you have something figured out, guaranteed, it will shift until you no longer recognize it.
The second being the unconditional love I have for my boys. Trust me, this love gets tested more as they grow older (I’m looking at you, Full Speed!), but I am always grateful it is right below the surface.
The third and final constant is how comfortable you are with the unknown is proportional to how content you are with life overall. I certainly do not have this mastered. I prefer patterns and certainty.
Sometimes boring feels like a balm to the soul.
I hope my 44th year brings new friends, new adventures and lots of predictable days ahead.
This summer has me so overwhelmed with change that I feel like part of me has shut down to cope. I am operating more in logic and less in feeling.
The feelings will have to come later.
Before we knew we were moving to a new state, we signed Full Speed up for a three-week academic class held on a college campus. Even then, while I was thrilled for him to have this unique opportunity, I was not particularly happy about him being away for three weeks. Throw some travel and our family changing addresses into the mix and I am surprised I am still standing.
The most unsettling part of this process with Full Speed was how extremely collegiate it all felt. We had to make sure he had linens and towels. He also needed shower shoes and a caddy for supplies to be used in the dorm showers.
Once we arrived at his dorm, it continued to take on a surreal quality. A feeling of yes, he is only thirteen, and yes, he will return home, but also a feeling of what our future without Full Speed may look like.
It’s not great, folks. Not great at all.
The positive is we obviously love our kid and should be grateful that we are missing him.
It would be rather telling if we broke out the bubbly and celebrated his departure with a joyful clink of glasses. There was no toasting. Only a sinking sensation that Full Speed is well on his way to carving out his own life.
I cannot tell you the willpower it took to not cry when we left him at his dorm. I held it together. I don’t know how, but I did.
My goal is to stay focused on the present moment and be mindful of what will feel supportive to him in terms of how much I communicate with him.
Unfortunately, him live-streaming his day to my phone is not an option.
Weird, I know.
Instead, I sense he is consumed by new routines, meeting new people and mastering the intensive curriculum ahead.
Texting his mom should not be a priority.
I get it.
I don’t have to like it, but I get it.
I have always known that my children have never really been mine. The most ‘ownership’ I can claim over them has maybe been the nine months I carried them. Once they arrived in the world it has been my one of my greatest honors to walk along beside them as I do my best to let them go.
Now, more so than ever before, it is time for Full Speed to walk ahead alone.
I love you, Full Speed. I am so proud to be your mom.
May this opportunity open your eyes to the infinite possibilities of life.
And remember, I am only a phone call away.
You’ve got this.
For the record, I can neither confirm or deny if T.Puzzle is missing Full Speed.
Ok, I lied.
I can confirm he totally does though he would never say it out loud.
And, I thank my lucky stars to have this one-on-one time with him.
I was beyond confused. While my eyes were seeing Full Speed line up with his teammates near the high jump area, my mind could not comprehend it. It was like if you were at my house and I walked down my stairs wearing a Cardinals jersey. It would make absolutely no sense. If you were a Cubs fan, and odds are if I let you in my home, you were,… well, at the least you would be anything but a Cardinals fan…, first you would feel confusion, then as it sunk in, you would feel angry and upset.
That’s exactly how I felt: confused, angry, upset
First of all, Full Speed up to this point in all of his entire life, had never even attempted to execute a high jump. Secondly, he barely cleared the waist of one of his man-sized teammates. I wish I was exaggerating for effect, but sadly, I am not. This kid towered over Full Speed. He looked like a line-backer while Full Speed looked like a scrawny equipment manager (albeit a highly adorable one).
Thankfully, the high jump took place well off the main area. Most of the crowd was focused on the excitement of the relays that circled before us. The bad news is, Full Speed’s high jump attempts played out exactly as you might imagine.
For his ‘warm-up’ jump he actually went under bar. Yes, you read that right….under. For his remaining three attempts he managed to at least level himself out with the bar to a degree, mainly shouldering the bar and launching it off the two poles that held it up. There was no grace to be found in these movements, mostly it looked like he was being electrocuted as his arms flailed around helplessly. I have to give him props for consistency, I mean he demolished that bar every single time. I also appreciated the polite way he helped replace the bar to its proper positioning for the next kid in line.
This was a parenting moment that I had to go big picture. This is where what you see before you is so off-kilter, you just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘no big deal’. This is just a blip on the road of life and let it go. I secretly held on to hope that he might get a chance to compete in another event. One hopefully, that required his feet to stay planted on the ground.
Shortly after, the ominous clouds that had been gathering decided they were done with this particular track meet. Within moments, rain was pummeling its way through the crowd and we all scattered like ants to safety. I was separated from Full Speed for a bit while the fate of the track meet was determined. Eventually, as mother nature continued on with her very bad mood, the meet was called and I caught up with him.
Once we were back at the car away from the noisy rain, I asked him point-blank, “Why on earth did they ask you do to the high jump?”
“I volunteered,” he replied.
Turns out, four members of his team were no-shows and there were lots of gaps needing to be filled. As his coach had run through the litany of events that needed a fill-in, Full Speed volunteered for every single one.
He was denied on all counts.
That is until the high jump was called out. No one was willing to step up so what did Full Speed do?
He stepped up.
Can you imagine the amount of courage this must have taken? Since Full Speed has a pretty good hold on reality, he had to have known it was going to end badly for him.
He did it anyway.
This kid may have lost the high jump that day, but he won my respect.
He has all it takes to be a winner. The kind that matters. The kind that isn’t afraid to take risks.
I don’t know about you, but the fact that baseball season has commenced has brought a spring to my step and a joy to my soul. I can’t explain it, I think it has to do with my genetic code or how I was raised on WGN, but when I’m watching baseball, the world feels right to me. If I am lucky enough to watch it in person, well then, it’s just next level awesome. Throw in hanging with my three guys and honestly life could not get any better at Marlins Park in the heart of Miami, but then, it did! It totally did!
As the first inning of game two of the four game series of Marlins vs. Cubs got under way, Mad Dog exited our row in search of a soft pretzel. Being opening weekend, there still were some kinks with customer service, so I knew he would be gone for a while. This didn’t faze me because I was at a baseball game! Life was good! Then, out of the corner of my eye, who strolls on in and sits right in front of me?
RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!
I can’t really explain it to a non-baseball fan, but as the President of Cubs Baseball Operations, Theo literally transformed the Cubs into World Series Champions.
Click below to learn more about this legend of baseball statistics and trades:
Naturally, I about fell out of my seat. I was absolutely frantic. I couldn’t communicate to Full Speed that Theo was sitting in front of us. I didn’t want Theo to hear me talking about him because he WAS RIGHT THERE! And, then, Mad Dog took FOREVER to get back from the pretzel situation and this whole time I WAS DYING inside from excitement.
Eventually, Mad Dog returned and I had finally communicated to Full Speed who was in front of us. I had him write a note to Mad Dog on a score card we had so again, I wouldn’t have to say Theo’s name out loud. From there at about inning 5, Mad Dog politely asked Theo to take a picture with me. I was so excited that’s why I look like a big cheeseball, and weirdly, Theo looks unaffected.
Still, the picture is awesome! It kind of is more awesome because Theo looks so ‘overjoyed’.
It is totally going to be this year’s Christmas card.
And wouldn’t you know, this game ended up going 17 innings!
The boys turned on us at about inning 13. They were so MAD.
At about inning sixteen, I started to maybe wonder if it was time to call it, but I had to stay. I mean, I couldn’t leave my new best friend alone to shoulder the fate of our team.
Sadly, we lost.
Theo’s face says it all:
It doesn’t matter, once a World Series Champion, always a World Series Champion!
I totally get that baseball is a game of inches. A couple of inches left or to the right, and a foul ball potentially becomes a 3-run shot. This is part of baseball’s charm. As charming as this is, if you fly across the country and spend money on a hotel and tickets, it’s always helpful to see your team win. Especially if you go four times you figure the baseball gods have to smile down upon you at least once, right?
It didn’t seem that way. It seemed the more we sojourned to Wrigley, the more victory eluded us. As we approached game four with no win in sight, I was losing hope. Of course I loved being at Wrigley, but still…was I asking too much to see one teensy-weensy win?
After watching the third defeat, my normally cheery attitude (that’s right, Mad Dog, I’m all about the cheer) had taken a turn. Let’s just say this World Series Champion was downright crabby, just ask our cabbie (I keep spontaneously rhyming as of late, should get that checked out, and truthfully, we used an Uber, but what the heck rhymes with that?!). Once we were back at our hotel, my mood continued its downward spiral.
Mad Dog knew we needed to change course. He insisted we all get dressed up and take advantage of the city. We would try a new restaurant and then go for a carriage ride. All he had to do was get me out the door and all would be well. He was right. We ended up having an awesome night.
After a great dinner, I was so looking forward to our carriage ride. It’s one of my favorite things to do when we are in Chicago. The city is gorgeous lit up at night and it’s fun to see it from this vantage point. That’s the whole idea, getting to see things out of the ordinary. This particular carriage ride did not disappoint to put it mildly.
When we rounded the corner as our ride was winding down, it was apparent something was amiss. Immediately our guide starts to frantically shout, “Look to the right! Look to the right! Keep looking that way, don’t look the other way!”
She was clearly panicked for some reason. Was it an accident? Was a crime of some sort taking place? I was starting to get very nervous.
No, it was neither of these. It was a naked bike ride. Yes, you read that right,…naked!
There were hundreds and hundreds of naked people riding gleefully down Lake Shore Drive. Full Speed went white with shock and T.Puzzle couldn’t stop laughing. I simply marveled at how one actually rides a bike sans underpants. Painfully so I would imagine. Mad Dog? Well, he did the only thing he could do, he pulled out his phone and starting snapping pictures. Sadly or gladly(?), there’s that rhyming thing again(!), I won’t be sharing those pictures here. In fact, I never want to see those pictures again for the rest of my life.
We hurriedly paid our guide and made our way back to our hotel. By then, much to our relief, most of the birthday-suit bikers had passed through.
However, the memory will forever linger in a can’t-ever-unsee-that-kind-of-way.
I blame the Cubs. (They did thankfully win the fourth and final game we attended🙌🏻)
The next baseball trip we take they better win every game we attend.
The only shock and awe I expect from this point on is that the Cubs play deep into October and that everyone in the glorious city of Chicago keeps their pants on….