Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Turtles and Roses

My nearly 8 year old loves his art class in school. He looks forward to it every week. For a long time he has been letting me know he has been hard at work on a sculpture. "It's a surprise for you Mom." I envisioned some Star Wars, weapon or sports related creation which would reflect his current passions. Wrapped carefully in an egg crate and stuck to construction paper was a turtle. My mother collected turtles. After her death, my brother and I stopped counting the turtles at around 200+.

A few days later, my nearly four year old asked me a question about this rose. "Did Mee Maw gived dis rose to you, Mommy?" Mee Maw was my mother. He met her three times, twice as an infant and once as a two year old. Caden's sum total experience with my mom is found in a picture on the fridge and stories I and my father may have shared. Yet, out of the blue, he asked me if my Mother had given me this rose.

I don't ascribe to the idea the dead have some sort of ghostly spirit-net through which they communicate to us once they slip this mortal coil. If so, we would all be mad with the white noise produced by the millions who have gone before us. If so, why would they only communicate in incomprehensible whispers and flick flash lights on and off?

I do however, believe that the One who created us speaks to us all the time. Of course He would want to. I like to speak to my kids and the people I love, so why wouldn't He?

With this in mind, I take these two events as a Heavenly reminder that my mother's presence in our lives mattered and reverberates into the future. My mothering has been affected by my own mother. I want to emulate her ability to always be there for the important things. She never missed a performance, a concert or a competition. I don't know how she did it, as my Dad was often deployed and gone, but she managed to always be the one to chaperone the field trip or be in the front row. I make efforts to ensure my kids are celebrated and never have a reason to doubt my love for them.

The rose came back from being cut to nothing last year following a funky infestation. This year it's blooming early and beautifully. (In the picture is a garden turtle sculpture we brought from my mother's house.) As the rose has come back, so am I from the depression, anxiety and a painful past.

I said in my mother's eulogy that she was like the turtles she collected. Tough on the outside but soft on the inside. She may have taken her time to do things, but she always crossed the finish line. I too often charge ahead and lay waste to time, resources (and my health).

I, like mom and her beloved turtles, need to slow down, toughen up on the outside and soften up on the inside. I can now, literally and figuratively, stop and smell the roses.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baseball Revelations

This week's posts seem to all have a baseball theme, so I'll go with it.

My husband works out of state for most of the week, so all kid duties fall to me.  Field trips included.  Today was JCS day at the minor league park in our area.

It was 80+ degrees (one of the hottest days to date this fledgling summer).  I was quite thankful for the 50 SPF sunscreen which formed a sludgy, yet curiously coconut smelling, cocoon around my sweaty frame.

There is nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of your child's peers to give one a few revelations on childhood in the new millennium.  Here's my top five.

  1. Most boys my son's age dress badly.  Really badly.  I have kvetched about my son's sartorial mishaps since he has been dressing himself.  No more.  If that kid I saw in the refreshment area can wear an orange t-shirt and purple shorts proudly then who am I to question the pairing of a Perry the Platypus t-shirt and silver/black Michael Jordan shorts?
  2. Ian is goofy.  However, on the goof spectrum he is solidly average.  The little girl who loudly stated she would kill herself if Uncle Bill's pool wasn't blue (Bill is Aunt Georgia's boyfriend I was soon to learn)-that girl is on the high end of the kid-goofy spectrum.  (In case you were wondering if the pool is green you can't swim in it because Aunt Georgia said!).  The little boy who sat by his dad and watched the e-n-t-i-r-e game without moving is on the other end of the spectrum.  My Ian who was dancing and spent much of the game in the bouncy play area? Solidly in the middle.
  3. Ice cream is a far cry from the melty stuff of my childhood.  It's all 'Dippin' Dots'.  Small beads of ice cream flash frozen in some fusion reactor freezer.  They are weird little nubbins of goodness which melt more slowly yet somehow create the same level of mess as it's more traditional cousin.
  4. Whether younger or more mature, parents parent any kid within a 10 foot radius.  The Pap seated in front of us danced with the boys to his right.  When Ian walked down the steps there were hands to grab him if he stumbled.  We exchanged sunscreen, water and passed lunches with surprising speed and accuracy.  The dads around me included Ian in their baseball lessons (taking pity on me who HATES the sport and knows little about it).  
  5. Seven is not too young to hold Mom's hand whilst milling about.  Unless dudes or girls walk past.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Batting Practice

I have a friend whose son has been batting and throwing accurately and with frightening power since about the age of two.  He is the same age as my Ian.  She posts on FB his amazing little league exploits.  My son plays ball too.  Totally different story.

My goals for Ian this baseball season were simple.  #1) Finish the season. #2) Hit the ball once.  #3) Win one game.  #4) Never lay down in the outfield while a game was in progress.  #5) Don't adjust 'furniture' (aka-the cup) whilst on the field and in front of everyone.

He's achieved some.  He hit in his first game, out of the infield and to many applause.  He too has an RBI.  He is about to finish the season in a week or so.  His team has won two games.  He has lay down in the outfield, just once though (and he said he just needed to take a little break).  And well, furniture is meant to be adjusted (so my husband says) so I'll just let that one go.

He is either a rock star or a rock.  With my Ian there is no sports (or life) middle ground.  

Last night I felt terrible as he stood in the batters box and never swung the bat.  I felt bad that he wasn't successful.  I was frustrated with him for not even trying.  When asked, he said none of the balls looked like something he could hit.  Okay.  

I also felt a little jealous of the rock stars of the team. You know, like my friend's son, the ones who always hit, always start and always, well, play fairly well.  I want Ian to be one of those kids.  He's not.  He might be someday.  Then again, he might not.

I realized I need to take 'me' out of the ballgame.  I need to put him, and mothering him to the fullness of his potential, in the center of this game and every other game of life.  My natural competitiveness has to take a back seat to supporting my son.  Out of the entire world the one person he must always count on to solidly be in his corner-cheering him on-will be me.  

(On a lighter, and less mommy epiphany note, Ian did start a brilliant cheer from his perch in the dugout.  It incorporated my father and my favorite sarcastic comeback.  Seriously, it did.  It went something like this, "Get a hit!  Get a hit! A single or a double! Seriously, get a hit! Seriously!"  Seriously, I love this kid!)

EPILOGUE-Tonight we had baseball practice.  As Ian stepped up to the plate I remember it is about him and not the number of hits.  It would be about the number of cheers from his number one fan-me.  It would also be about the approval from the 'men's men' coaches.  They are all the definition of testosterone, however, they demonstrate a humor and care about our little fellas that is truly memorable to this mama.  Tonight, after a few stance adjustments, Ian was hitting it out of the infield better than ever.  Coach Steve, a brusque guy who picks on the Moms who hover around practice, said, "And this is the guy who told me he wasn't any good at our first practice.  Look how good you are doing now.  I told you it would get better!"  Ian grew an inch at the praise.  My heart grew too.  He will get better at this baseball thing.  And so will I.