This Mother’s Day 2019 is my tenth one without you.
I miss you.
Since you died I have to be honest, Mother’s Day has not felt right to me. Without you, I don’t know how to be on this day. For thirty-four years I knew, and then for the last ten, I don’t.
It isn’t for lack of having awesome kids of my own. How I wish you could know them as they are now. I imagine the scope of sports stats you would discuss with Full Speed would know no bounds. T.Puzzle would crack you up. A lot.
I didn’t exactly follow your parenting paradigm, but my boys were paradigm busters. They were/are firecrackers. I made it up as we went along. I had to. I didn’t have you to ask for advice.
I made mistakes. A lot of mistakes. So many mistakes. What I didn’t account for was the natural resilience of both my boys.
There really isn’t much I can do to mess that up. My best course of action is no action at all.
I’d like to think that some of your best qualities are reflected in both of them. Full Speed has your practical logic locked down. He has an uncanny ability to throw reason at me when I am hooked into an emotional arc of uncertainty. T.Puzzle’s quick wit often reminds me of you.
You always made me laugh.
I miss laughing with you.
If I could talk to you I’d like you to know that Mad Dog loves me for exactly who I am. You and I suspected he did, but time and living a life together has proven this as fact.
I’d want you to know that the Cubs finally won the World Series. My heart still aches that I couldn’t share that experience with you.
I was at game three and game five at Wrigley.
Not too shabby for a girl growing up in the cornfields of Illinois.
Sometimes I wonder who your current favorite player would be. My guess changes from season to season. I know you would love Javy but he’s a bit of a loose cannon. Maybe Schwarber for his gritty comeback? Maybe Zo with his MVP World Series run and his cool demeanor on the field and at the plate?
I wish I could talk baseball with you.
I wish I could tell you that I am a writer now. I have always been but now I sometimes get published. And sometimes the letters I configure on a page help others remember they are loved and moves them towards healing.
To me, that is grace.
To me, that is everything.
I would tell you that I love you. That you shaped me into the woman that I am. That because of you I love birds, baseball and the color blue.
I know that you sometimes couldn’t understand why I wore my heart on my sleeve but it’s okay, you are not alone in this. Now that I am older I realize my emotionality isn’t a choice, it is a way of being. It hurts me more to hide it, so I hide it less and less.
Either way, you’d love me. Either way, you loved me.
I still carry your voice in my heart and your love in my soul.
In many ways, you never left me.
I wish I could take you to the mountains. I wish I could sit next to you on a porch and listen to the birds calling each other home. I wish I could take your hand in mine, look you in your clear blue eyes and tell you what is true.
All I wanted was to walk to dinner in peace. My boys weren’t having it. T.Puzzle’s needling of Full Speed spiked to a dangerous level. So did my exasperation.
I took note that my expectations for the evening were not matching the reality of it. Quiet strolls, tranquil camaraderie and basic normalcy are elusive on most days of motherhood.
When we arrived at our destination, it took me a few moments to process through my frustration. I ended up giving one of my aren’t-we-fortunate-we-can-be-together-and-enjoy-awesome-dinners-out speeches.
Once I said my piece, the edges of discord smoothed away. We shifted back to our default which happens to be a family that is loved.
I took a moment to drink it all in. The breeze that brushed through our faces held the perfect depth of warmth. The trees rustled nearby ushering us to dusk.
Dreams may lack perfection, but I am doing my best to recognize them in all their shapes and forms.
I have always loved Mad Dog’s athleticism. When we were dating, I would take great pride watching him from the sidelines as he crashed his way to the end zone for his touch football team.
Lately, he has been playing more and more basketball with the boys in our backyard. These games consist of trash talk, spin moves and flagrant(!) fouling.
Yesterday’s game was no exception. It was 1 v 1, Mad Dog against T.Puzzle. I sat on our back porch and watched the glory unfold. Full Speed was next to me spouting off the official referee calls as Mad Dog muscled his way towards victory. One shot shy of the win, he dropped back deep on the pavement and launched a beauty. It banked off the backboard slamming home the win.
Something about the whole thing reminded me of those good ol’ days of dating. I’m not gonna lie, my stomach did some flips.
Mad Dog’s still got game.
At dinner in our post-game analysis, Mad Dog recounted that winning shot.
“I did it for my woman,” he said.
Both T.Puzzle and Full Speed asked, “Yeah, but was she watching?”
As in was Miss Lady watching? As in, Miss Lady is clearly THE lady Mad Dog was showing off for and I was just a random spectator.
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.