I am kind of a mess right now. If you ran into me on the street, I still appear normal on the outside, but inside me swims the anxiety and tension of moving my family to a new state. This is all a normal part of the experience.
What isn’t normal is that my boys are not really freaking out. I mean, aren’t they supposed to be freaking out?
Here’s a recent conversation I had with them:
“Are you nervous about going to a new school?” I said.
Both said, “No.”
“Are you worried you won’t make new friends?” I said.
Both said, “No.”
“Are you concerned that you won’t be academically prepared when school starts?”
Both said, “No.”
Can you spot the pattern here?
Maybe instead I should ask, “Are you worried your mom is going to ask you so many questions about whether or not you are worried that you may tune her out completely?”
Thank you to the stars above for giving me two, level-headed sons that tolerate my dramatic inquiries and love me anyway.
It was Father’s Day 2017 and we were seated outside Mad Dog’s favorite neighborhood restaurant. The discussion turned mildly serious as we contemplated the on-going possibility of adding another dog to our home. Mad Dog was insisting we had to get a puppy (says the man who doesn’t have to train the puppy!). I stood my ground and was still pulling for a rescue dog. However, the rescue option hadn’t been going very well. The dogs were either too far away or were already adopted before we had a chance to blink. I was starting to lose hope in fulfilling my dream of rescuing a dog. I explained to my three guys that whatever dog we may find, this dog had to be something special. This dog had to live up to the high standards set by our White Fluffy Dog that passed away last summer. This seemed like a mighty tall order.
The next night as I was laying in bed feeling rather hopeless that a second dog was out there for us, a thought struck me. Maybe in a lifetime we are only afforded a certain amount of awesome. I mean I have an incredible husband, two amazing kids and still had the good fortune of having our Little Guy shih tzu around. And, don’t get me started about our White Fluffy Dog, I could go on about her for days. She was such a rescuer and always ran towards hurt and sadness, never away. She was always, always there for me. Thinking back about all the ways she loved me and my family, I thought maybe I’m being selfish. Who gets to have so much, even if it is just the memory of awesome, and expect more?
In my heart I said a prayer. I directed it to our White Fluffy Dog but honestly, I don’t know who or what else may have been listening. I simply said, “If I have reached my limit of awesome, I understand. I am so grateful for all that I have, all you have given me and if there is that right dog out there for us, please send them our way. Otherwise, I will make peace with life exactly as it is. I trust you know what is best for me and our family and I let it go. I’m letting the whole thing go.” My heart felt heavy with sadness while I thought these words. Still, underneath that heaviness, the swirling of gratitude I had accessed was a comfort. I very much wanted another dog, but knew I would be okay if we didn’t ever find one.
That was Monday night. Wednesday morning an alert popped up in my email for a dog that matched a description I had set up in an information base. She was four, she was fluffy(!) and she was potty-trained. She also happened to be fostered in the town right next door! She seemed too good to be true.
I immediately set to work filling out an adoption application for her. I felt hopeful, but I was cautious. A dog this special was certain to generate a ton of interest and applications. I hit send on the application and once again, let it go.
The next day I got a call asking if we were available to meet this wonder dog. By Saturday we arranged a meeting with her and as soon as we met, we knew she was ours.
This new girl is so much like our White Fluffy Dog in so many ways and she is so different.
All I know is that she is home, life is good and awesome has no limit.
I went through my first year of posts to edit the boys’ names. I originally referred to them as Frick and Frack. These were the nicknames my mom gave them when they were very little. You could see how this could become confusing to a reader so I went back through and updated their names to Full Speed and T.Puzzle. There are a lot of posts in that first year that made me laugh out loud and made my heart swell with love. There are touching posts, posts about the loss of my mother and posts about how Mad Dog is always right (not really!) and as a married couple we never fight (no comment!). There are some posts I read through where I cringed and broke out in a cold sweat. It was like I was right back in it. Reliving those vivid details of some of the epic power struggles I endured with my boys (especially T.Puzzle at the onset of his terrible threes) was not for the faint of heart. After reading these I fully understand why I never felt compelled to expand my brood. However, I am deeply grateful for the two that I have. One of the biggest takeaways in terms of my parenting abilities is NEVER ASK ME HOW TO POTTY TRAIN! I failed repeatedly and miserably not once but twice. There was a point in time that I wondered if I should buy stock in Pull-Ups as I was fairly certain my boys would be wearing them FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! Again, I could not do that again. Two is my absolute limit. I heard the Pull-Ups people were really bummed to hear that.
There were some stand-out posts and there were some where I was clearly phoning it in. However, there was one in particular that floored me. It is the one I wrote on the year anniversary of Writes for All Mommies’ inception date. Here is my favorite passage from it:
I think the biggest change for me has been coming to terms with motherhood. I think sometimes when we are unhappy with who we are, we blame our choices and our circumstances. I will admit, especially in the newborn years, I struggled with my all-consuming role as a mother. I thought that maybe if I had made some different choices, like continuing to work or if I was somehow parenting better, I would feel happier. Turns out, it wasn’t my boys or motherhood, it was me. It doesn’t matter what I accomplish outside of motherhood that determines my value, it is ultimately up to me to determine that. Whether I become a world-famous author or if all I manage is to raise two, well-adjusted boys, my value remains constant. I get that now.
From this I would like to take it one step further. What if I actually don’t have to do a thing to prove my value? What if our value is actually tied to who we are and not what we do? Is it possible my value was already locked down before I even decided to have kids or pour my heart out on my laptop keyboard?
I now know this is not only possible, it is absolute truth.
We were on our way. We had travelled many miles and planned months in advance for this day. This was THE day.
Full Speed and T.Puzzle were going to their first Cubs game.
In the weeks leading up to this momentous event, I tried to convey to them how special this was to me. So much of my childhood and memories of my mom were wrapped up in Cubs’ fandom. I had met Mad Dog because of the Cubs. Our first date was in the left field bleachers. I fell in love with Mad Dog at Wrigley.
Wrigley Field is my mecca.
Obviously, I was feeling a bit emotional but mostly excited. We decided to walk part of the way from our rented, summer apartment and grab a cab closer to the field.
Then, I felt the first raindrop. Then, another. Soon, I wasn’t sure if I was feeling rain wet my face or anxious tears.
How could it threaten to rain on this of all days? The most holiest day of my young children’s lives?
Inwardly (ok, outwardly, too) I started to freak out. Full Speed could tell I was losing it and quickly grabbed my hand.
“It’s okay, Mom. It’s only raining a little. It’s going to be okay.”
And, then, almost instantly it was okay.
Here’s why: I stopped focusing on all the things that could go wrong (possible rain, thunder, game cancellation) and started to look at all that was wonderful.
First of all, I had this incredibly handsome and caring young man holding my hand. Wow, Full Speed is going to make one heck of a husband when he grows up. Which brought me to my own husband. He worked so hard and planned so carefully for our little family to have this awesome Cubs experience for two reasons. First, he is a Cubs fan, but secondly, because he does all he can to make me happy. Seeing him up ahead leading our little family and watching him stay positive that no rain would slow us down, made my heart full.
I decided in that moment that I wasn’t going to let the threat of bad weather ruin this awesome day. However it unfolded was going to be perfect. I was with my favorite guys and all I felt was gratitude.
Sure enough, soon after we arrived in the park it rained and rained and rained.
What did we do? We got some ponchos and soldiered on.
With much anticipation and thankfully no thunder, the game started on time. Within moments, the Diamondbacks had a runner on and their clean-up hitter launched a line drive home run to right-center. It was the kind of homer you instantly knew it was gone. The way it cracked off the bat was soul-crushing.
And, it still rained on us. A lot.
Somehow the Cubs made a comeback, honestly if you’ve been watching their season at all, this is hardly surprising. Offensively they are a juggernaut. They managed to get the lead back by the fourth inning and maintain it until the end. This only got sweeter when my favorite player, Anthony Rizzo, clocked a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. I screamed so loud I nearly lost my voice. You can actually see us on the MLB recap as we were behind home plate as Rizzo completes his trek around the bases. We are easy to spot because I am jumping for joy. To this day, Full Speed does a dead-on impersonation of me jumping around like a crazy person for Anthony’s home run.
This is the story of a midwestern girl. She grew up in a rural town and never thought much beyond the outskirts of the farmlands that surrounded her. On a whim post-graduate school, she moved to Chicago. There, she met a Northwestern matriculating Buckeye. She didn’t think much of football but she did think much of the Buckeye. Quickly, she fell in love. Not so quickly, he did too.
Their romance wasn’t always a fairytale. No matter, the girl followed her heart again and again. On her convoluted path to finding everlasting love with this most handsomest of Buckeyes, she journeyed to Arizona with him to her first Ohio State National Championship game. As fate would have it, they won in a spectacular double overtime fashion.
This prompted the Buckeye to believe in miracles.
He got over himself finally and proposed to the girl.
She said yes.
She married her Buckeye at Disney World that same year.
She didn’t even mind when Mickey had to show some Buckeye spirit. I mean, she was finally married after all. She was in a generous mood.
Two, awesome little Buckeyes soon followed. Understanding that her Beloved bled scarlet and gray, the girl agreed to raise their family strictly Buckeye.
Two more National Championships followed. The girl didn’t attend either as she had her little Buckeyes to care for and tickets for such events are a rarity. Both of these ended in heartbreaking losses. Her Buckeye made it to both of these. He likes to pretend he never went as both games stir painful memories for him.
Flash forward to present day and the Buckeyes had done it again. They were ready to take on the Oregon Ducks for the National Title. The girl hoped and prayed that somehow her Buckeye would get to go.
The Wednesday before the game the Buckeye called the girl.
“Are you sitting down?” he asked.
“We have four tickets to the game.”
And, that’s when this story starts getting really, really good.
The Buckeye and the girl packed up their little Buckeyes and hit the road. So what if it was 30 hours round trip? This was the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
As the weekend unfolded, the anxiety of the pending game was almost too much for the girl to take. She tried to keep her focus on being grateful to spend this adventure with her 3 favorite boys regardless of the game’s outcome. It wasn’t always easy.
Finally, game day arrived. As this little family made their way into the enormous stadium, nerves were at an all-time high. There were Buckeyes EVERYWHERE. It was like they were attending a home game at the ‘Shoe. The band was impeccable, the crowd was electric, the jumbotron was massive,….it was AWESOME.
As the game commenced and the Ducks methodically marched down the field and scored on their first possession, the littlest Buckeye burst into tears. As the waterworks flowed, his heart lost its ability to believe in a Buckeye victory.
The Buckeyes quickly answered and spirits were lifted instantly but remained precarious until solidly into the second half.
As the fourth quarter began to dwindle, the girl couldn’t believe that she was there. That the Buckeyes were going to win. Her Buckeye was joyous. Her little Buckeyes rejoiced. The whole stadium erupted as the final seconds ticked away.