Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Same Smile

I stalked two senior citizens today. I spent far too much time eyeballing juice to be credible. I'm sure they noticed.

I couldn't walk away. They were in love.

I am unabashedly squishy. I cried during Juno and every time I see the new version of Pride and Prejudice (despite my visceral aversion to Keira Knightly...Matthew MacFadyen is truly a yummy Mr. Darcy and don't even get me started on anything Hugh Grant.) Oh, I can come off as a tough broad, but on the inside I'm really a cream puff (one of those chocolate ones with pink coconut). I love-love.

The couple must have been in their 80's. Their frames, shrunken with age, leaned into one another, and not just for support. They were nose to nose discussing cereal bars. It could have been a hearing challenge, for a moment I thought to help them decide between the oat clusters and the bran. However, I soon noticed it was love.

As they walked away towards the juice aisle I saw he grabbed her and gave her a little squeeze. She leaned in, a smile on her face. The same smile she had when he grabbed her off the dance floor over 60 years ago. The same smile she had when she walked down to aisle, her eyes never leaving her uniformed husband to be. The same smile she had when he came home from the wars, almost in one piece, knowing she could put his heart back together. The same smile.

I am the product of a broken home. Dad left Mom when I was 24. I now know, and kinda did then, it should have happened much, much sooner. My husband and I are the oldest married couple of either of our parents. So, of late, I find myself watching and admiring love in its fullest and longest versions.

I love my husband. Some days I even like him. We have been married 14 years. We'll celebrate our anniversary by going to the Steelers home opener and staying the night in da 'Burgh. We take turns planning anniversaries for each other. It has fallen by the wayside of children, however, this year I reinstituted the plan. I planned for him. (Thanks dad for scoring the free tickets!).

When I watched that couple in the grocery store I smiled too. I smiled because I know, somewhere in a deep part of my heart and spirit, I'll be leaning into my husband 46 years from now. I know I'll smile that same smile when I see him put on his Steelers jersey to go to the game. I'll smile when we try to decide between the oats or the bran.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Movement: Soccer Insanity

I can just hear the conversation of our soccer coach with his wife upon his return from our first practice.

"How did your first practice go tonight, dear?" (In my head the dialogue is similar to an episode of 'Leave It To Beaver'--dunno why.)

"It went super. Except for this one boy," he says, removing his cleats and putting on his slippers (brown corduroy of course).

"Tell me about it dear," she replies while handing him a cocktail, sitting beside him to enjoy one herself.

"Well, he kept making super-hero flying noises and gun shots when kicking or running. And when he made a good shot, or kicked the ball further than two inches, he would stand," Coach said, consternation crinkling his kind eyes.

"Golly, he would just stand there?" wife replied, sipping her cocktail and marveling at what a concerned and wonderful coach her man is (while also admiring her fresh pedicure through her cute and comfy peep toe pumps).

"Yes, he would stand there with his hand in the air waiting to do a high five. After every, single, long kick. He's shaping up to be quite a character!"

"I agree."

Sip, sip. Hug, hug. and SCENE.

Yes, my five year old entered the world of organized sports. I said to the other Mommy present, "Today is the first day of a life time of practices, games, sports, uniforms, equipment, fund raisers, etc."

I was on the sidelines with the whole fam. Dad, me, Pappy and the baby all stood watching our little quirky five year old make his sports debut. And what a debut.

He only made one of the children cry. This is an unfortunate side effect from playing full contact soccer with Daddy for years.

He only fell down once. With aplomb he got right up and promptly ran over the ball.

He made sound effects. For everything. RRRRRRRR-BOOM-NEEE NER, NEEE NER.

He drank his whole water bottle, after 10 minutes of practice.

He only grabbed his pee pee twice. As opposed to the every three minute check he normally does.

He insisted on hugging the kid who made a great goal.

He was scared of and run over by the 'big girl' (i.e. the first grader who was a couple inches taller than him and quickly earning the moniker "girlie Pele").

The soccer insanity has begun.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Moments

Okay, I'll admit it. I am the most skeptical and disconnected fair weather Olympic fan. First, it's in China, the home of state sponsored human rights violations no slick marketing campaign can make me forget. Second, handball. 'Nuff said.

This disclaimer being shared, even I can tell those elves with grins on the Chinese gymnastics team aren't even close to being 16. It's also obvious to me there's just something a little misogynistic in the uniform choices (and obvious disparities) between men's and women's beach volleyball. Check out the President's lovely photo op with one of the women's finer assets.

There have been two moments that struck a chord as to be memorable to this mama. The first surrounds the swimming freak Michael Phelps, or rather around his delightfully round and expressive mom.

He is a swimming freak. Literally God built this boy to be a swimming machine. He's the darling and mythic hero of this year's games. He wins. He wins sometimes from sheer athletic prowess and sometimes by a fingernail. Nevertheless, he wins and America loves a winner. We need a winner.

Tonight he won a seventh gold medal and tied Mark Spitz. The race was one by one one hundredth of a second. When he won, his mother went from clutching her daughter's hand to disappearing in a slump to the chair. She became invisible as the crowd cheered around her at this history making moment.

It was memorable to this mama because I can figure out what she must have been feeling. While the rest of the world was celebrating his victory, she was remembering and celebrating the journey. She was there when he made his first splash, as an infant in the kitchen sink. She was there when he wanted to quit because he couldn't break his time any faster. She was there when he moved across the country to be with his coach instead of his mama. And she was there for this moment. The beauty in the moment was that she would be there even if he came in seventh place. She would have been there if he was a pool cleaner instead of a King of the Chlorine.

The second moment came just a few minutes later. Dara Torres was stepping up to compete in the 50 meter freestyle. She's a 41 year old mother swimming in her fifth Olympics. Uncharacteristically, she deviated from her pre-race routine and went to talk with an official. She spoke with all the other competitors, many of whom could have been her daughter. It turns out she was stalling to give her fellow competitor some time to replace a ripped suit. She was delaying one of the biggest races of her life to allow someone to have the chance to beat her.

Afterwards my husband said, "You know only a mother would do that." He was right. Only a mother would take a moment to make sure everyone has a chance. Because only a mother knows that if you give someone else's baby a chance, someone will give yours one in return. She said in an interview, "In the water these women are my competitors. Out of the pool, they are my friends." They said it was an unprecedented show of sportsmanship. I say it was a show of leadership only a mother can demonstrate.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Movement: Big Boy Pants

We bought the other half of my son's parochial school uniforms today. We made the annual migration to JC Penney. They were having their (once a season!oh so fabulous!not to be missed!not to be outdone!) sale.

It wasn't difficult. Navy or khaki. They also were kind enough to have a section labeled, "School Uniforms" so I know I won't make any nuns mad with my son's sartorial decisions.

What was difficult was watching my son struggle to buckle his pants. It was difficult because it made the trying on/sizing/length checking un--believe----ably---s--l--o--w. It was difficult because I knew he had to be able to undo/redo his own drawers because I wasn't going to be there to do it for him. I-will-not-be-there.

I will not be there when he is bullied for the first time. I will not be there when he trips in the hall and the class laughs. I will not be there when a girl chases him down at recess and kisses him. I will not be there when he can't remember what sound H makes. I-will-not-be-there.

Buying big boy pants while still waiting for my first paycheck was hard. Not being there is even harder.

I will be there. With red rimmed eyes and wet kleenex, I'll be there to greet him as he comes home from the bus. I'll be there to hold him and tell him how fearfully and wonderfully made he is when others may not agree. I will be there to put the special Cars Movie tattoo band aid on boo-boos so minute as to be invisible, yet still a bruise to his soul. I will be there to reassure him that girls are indeed yucky and that he won't like them for lots and lots and lots of years to come. I'll be there to help him remember what sound H makes. I'll be there to help him to always remember, always know, always count on-I-WILL-BE-THERE.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Movement: Back In The Saddle

I like to work. I like to get a paycheck. I like to talk to and interact with people of whose butts I do not have to wipe and whose mouths I do not have to feed. I like to work.

I also really like being with my little guys. I like knowing where everything is. I like having that Mommy sense to know what the baby is crying for even if he doesn't. I like being able to clean an entire house AND play with the kids at the same time.

Tomorrow I am back in the saddle of work again. My time will no longer be exclusively my own. I will be accountable to yet another set of humans.

I am excited to start a new career I know is only the beginning of my next professional life. I look forward to building someone else's business so eventually I can build my own. I am so blessed to be given the opportunity to work from home and own my own schedule. I am ready.

I am also sad to miss the morning cartoon battle with my five year old. If someone mentions they are hungry at my morning meeting I will have to fight the urge to search out some fruit snacks from my purse. I'll call home at least once and not speak to anyone (my husband is mystified at how to multi-task with the kids present---you mean you can talk on the phone, feed a baby AND make mac-n-cheese? Naw.)

With my first son I went back to working 50-60 hour weeks when he was just 10 weeks old. I cried as I pumped. I was depressed. At the time there were no other financial options. I made the best of it. I was heartbroken.

With my second son, I have spent the majority of his first year of life with him. He was in care, but only for about 24 hours a week (!!!!!!!) and not until he was close to 6 months. While there were still no other financial options, there were work schedule options.

Now their father is at home (for now), I define my own schedule. I work for a man who coaches little league and wants some of my time to be devoted to finding resources for the school his (and now my) children attend.

I am ready to be back in the saddle. I will be more than ready to get out as soon as I can tomorrow. I'll be ready to play baseball in the back yard with my little A-Rod and have the back of my calves munched on by the baby as he struggles to teeth and pull himself up.

I'll be ready to work the second shift of my day. The Mommy shift. Only now I don't want to ever punch out as I am discovering how amazing it is to punch in.