We were racing through O’Hare International Airport. I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins as we embarked on the first phase of our summer vacation. No, we weren’t racing to make a flight or anything like that. Mad Dog, in that way of his, was pushing us to get to…wait for it…baggage claim. We weren’t even late for anything. He is a man who can’t stand to be still so what happens when you land at your destination? You sprint to baggage claim naturally.
Through the bobbing and weaving I managed to shout over to the boys, “You realize this trip would not be possible without me. I am the whole reason we are here.”
They didn’t break stride as they looked towards me.
“I set the back-up alarm to make sure we made our flight this morning. This was absolutely crucial to our trip’s success. So, however amazing this trip is going to be, and it will be, it’s all because of your mom and her super awesome back-up alarm setting abilities.”
You see, the night before, Mad Dog ‘asked’ me what time I planned to set my alarm for. The truth was, he already had in mind the exact time he wanted. It was also clear that I was the back-up alarm.
Why he pretended that my back-up alarm mattered when, in fact, it did not, only shows how smart he is. He knows my sensitive self likes to feel useful in situations like these. He tried his best to include me. But really, in the realm of travel logistics, it’s best to step back and let him roll. (In his defense, he travels a lot for work, so he clearly knows what the heck he is doing.)
Mad Dog takes in what I’ve said and casually states, “Actually, you were the back-up to the back-up alarm.”
Full Speeds turns to me and says, “How’s it feel to be demoted to third string, Mom?”
The Super Bowl is over so football is over. This means baseball is almost here!
I was sharing my baseball glee with the boys over dinner.
“Guess what? Spring training games begin FEBRUARY 25TH!!! Aren’t you both excited?”
T.Puzzle looked crestfallen at his impending loss of tv viewing control. Full Speed was more diplomatic. He graciously updated me on the recent team acquisitions and trades. He turns to T.Puzzle, “Are you ready to never watch one of your shows until baseball is over?”
T.Puzzle replied (with shoulders slumped defeatedly no less), “How many games are in a season?”
I don’t know why he was being so dramatic, it’s ONLY 162 (not counting post-season, fingers crossed!).
“Guys, remember I said that I will be open to letting you watch an occasional show if it is really important to you. If we can’t come to a compromise, you are always welcome to go upstairs and watch your show there (there’s a nifty loft space with a tv where they play video games so trust me, they are not being banished to a dark place of doom).”
T.Puzzle says, “But Full Speed will never want to watch a show, he will always want to watch baseball and I know I can’t watch certain shows without him.” Again, his tone was absolutely pitiful.
I could almost read verbatim the words in Full Speed’s thought bubble that were forming over his head. Yes, he loves his mom and enjoys baseball up to a certain point, BUT, some days he’s fine to watch something else. However, he was very scared to voice this last part so as not to hurt my feelings (very sweet). As I relayed my theory about what he was thinking, his body relaxed visibly in the knowledge he didn’t have to tell his (famous) World Series Champion mother, that he may not want to watch baseball every single day of his life.
“Seriously, Full Speed. It’s fine. I understand there are going to be days you won’t want to watch a game with me. It doesn’t even matter that whoever does watch the game with me will get a bigger inheritance. There’s no pressure.”
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.
Flag football season will soon be upon us. We’ve had a marvelous, months long break from sports activity. At first when Full Speed said he needed a break, my mind went to panic mode. I thought this meant that he will never play a varsity sport. He will never fulfill his Division One destiny. He will try out, not make the first cut and then he will ‘review the tape’ of his childhood. He will then recall how he took a break sanctioned by his Mom, and proceed to blame me for the rest of his life for not making the team.
Whoa, wait a minute there irrational reality. So what? Who cares if he does or doesn’t make a team? Only society as a whole and a large portion of our community (and some family members and I’m not singling out Mad Dog per say). Ok, so maybe this isn’t the way to make sense of the insane pressure to be an elite athlete.
Honestly, I don’t know how to handle all these high expectations that my kids have to be ‘the best’ at sports. Why can’t reading be a sport? Or how about being super kind to others? As a kid, I would have DOMINATED in those. Look out Reading Olympics, I’m going for the gold!
Here’s the thing, sports can be a huge positive, but for the downside of competition, failure and feeling less-than, all a parent can do is adjust their own expectations of their children’s sport performance. Of course, I want them to succeed, but I have to have faith that the journey of sports and life, while unfortunately filled with its share of bumps and bruises, is going to be what helps them ultimately succeed as people. Yes, I said as people, not as professional athletes. I plan to cheer them on for awesome plays, showing up and for being themselves. I will never take a break from that.