The unexpected happened. I was completely and utterly surprised by my mini.
She wrote something extremely genuine to a friend in need. If I could have written it myself I wouldn’t have changed a word. I had that “oh wow” moment. I did something right! She does listen. I’m really not talking to a teenage wall.
I am celebrating in my mind. In my body. As a mother many days go by when you have a thankless job. Too many actually. This one day made up for the 100 crappy days before.
For today I will take a deep breath and feel the joy associated with this moment. This writing helped a dear friend over a life hurdle. My cup is overflowing in joy for her. For me. For the receiving party.
Now on to the day to see what doom or gloom comes my way. No matter what my heart is full from this one little moment. The moment of words. The wisdom of words. The power of words whether written or spoken.
Ah, to be sixteen again. Fresh wheels. Gas in the tank. No “have tos” as it’s the weekend. Where to go. Who to see. Back. Forth. Back and forth. Back again. Around again and again.
This about sums up the life of my youngest. Fridays mean off with friends. Time to blow off steam. Sleep in Saturday as it was a long week (in teenager eyes). Need to rest the mind and the body.
Mid-day rise on Saturday. Nothing on the calendar so off she goes. Zoom. Zoom. Here, there, everywhere. An errand. A drop off. A visit with a friend. Some food. Back to home base for a quick change. Evening plans are in motion.
Off again. Social life calls. Sleepover calls name. I must. I must. Snuggle up Sunday is here. Lazy time thanks to the busy go-go-go that began Friday. A few chores, a quick favor for another, a car wash, a pick up at a friend’s. Zoom. Zoom.
5pm hits. Dinner time is approaching. Maybe it’s time to see the teen for a few minutes and share a meal. Maybe some conversation or maybe not. Head phones. Social media. Homework. Prep for the week is now here.
Where did the time go? Once a teen gets a set of wheels or gets independent by way of driving, relationships change. Mommas are no longer needed. Well they are needed but not in the same way. It’s beautiful to watch but it’s sad at the same time. The time you once spent together is now replaced with time with others.
When it’s your youngest or last it hits a little harder. Empty nest syndrome is near in sight. You look for opportunities to savor the time that remains before college or adulthood. Once the 18 number hits your value fades. You are needed but not as much as the sisterhood of a sorority, of a sports team, or a love interest.
The relationship in my mind drifts until 26 years of age. At this point the need resurfaces. Maybe for financial guidance. Maybe for grandparenting time. Maybe for help of some sort. Whatever the reason it’s a long wait.
I think my favorite age of kids is 8-11 years. Fun to play with. Old enough to listen. Not too much sass talking. And overall it’s a time they still need you. To get here or there. To buy this or that. For food. And so on.
Parenting doesn’t have a rule book. It’s expensive to say the least. It’s full of memories, both good and bad. Parenting shows your flaws as well as your strengths in your offspring. That might be the hardest part of parenting. Looking in the mirror.
Seeing the stubbornness.
Seeing the attitude.
Living with a mini version of oneself.
I still wouldn’t change it for the world but I do miss the favorite age I mentioned above. I have three kids in three different stages. They all give me joy, stress, and aw shit moments. For this rant I’m just putting it on paper. A way of confirming what life is for me now.
The first big end-of-season celebration recently wrapped. Of course, I’m thinking and looking back at how far she has come.
Over 10 years ago, my little scrapper started flag football in our local church league. The teams were coed. She has always liked playing sports with the boys. She relished the chance to go toe-to-toe with them and loved pulling their flags, dodging their “tackles,” and winning. Football of any kind isn’t usually a girl’s sport, so she may have had one other girl on her teams through those years. When she got to 4th grade or so, that age when bodies and minds start to really realize that girls and boys are different, she was the only girl on those teams. Again, she didn’t care and the boys’ fumbly discomfort around her even made her secretly giggle. She still loved running past them for the touchdown. She just wanted to play.
In high school, things get a little more serious. I remember reading in the paper that flag football would be coming to our county as a grant-funded club sport for girls. How exciting! The transition to high school had been a challenge for her and I thought it would be great. But, the schedule and coaches discouraged her from trying out that first year. She could get injured. She was already playing volleyball. It wouldn’t work.
Thankfully, the sport continued into her sophomore year. Again, a club sport, but after not making the volleyball team, the path was cleared for her to try out for flag football. She made that team and had a ball with a group of (mostly) new friends.
During her junior year, flag football became a varsity-level sport in our state, so she could earn her letter and competition would grow. She was named captain of that team and had a great season (despite COVID quarantine and lots of other ups and downs). And then this year, as a senior captain, she again helped lead her team to the playoffs, and was named to all-county teams on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. She received her 4th scholar athlete award, keeping her grades up all the while.
As she wound down her high school flag football career, she received what is called the Hawk Award from her coaches. Every varsity team at our school has just one of these awards. It is given to the player that excels on and off the field, in the spirit of the Hawks, her school mascot.
Remembering her first year of high school, when I drove her 30 minutes each morning away from home in the icy dark…she would hardly speak. Later she told me she would cry every single day when she arrived at school. I took her from her neighborhood friends, her safe zone, and plopped her into a school that was so different, so huge, so competitive. She had to work hard to achieve. Seek out help when she needed it. It was an honor to be selected for a team, not just a given. But just like my parents had done for me, pulling me from a sinking neighborhood school and taking me across town to a better high school, it has all worked out for the better. She’s grown to appreciate the opportunity and has made the most of it. She’s become a leader, a scholar, and a Hawk. After all those chilly, quiet, traffic-filled mornings, I can look back and know again that the effort was worth it.
I see an abundance of blue. A sea of Carolina Blue near and far. Maybe some white but far more blue. University of North Carolina blue. That soft powdery-colored blue that is easily recognizable as the UNC symbolic color. Nestled deep in the heart of Tar Heel territory on the UNC campus, it’s hard to miss the waves of blue everywhere.
I am here for an event which involves the wearing of the university colors and uniforms. Trying to find a needle in a haystack is a good reference for finding my kid in the sea of blue jerseys. My child is one of of 400-500 immersed in an elite field experience for the sport of lacrosse, which she loves. Last college event was big but not this big.
Hundreds of highly skilled athletes looking to standout while improving their individual and teaming skills on such a big stage. Such an experience to live through as both an athlete and a spectator.
My lens is clearly the spectator but obviously I couldn’t be more proud of my athlete. Spending hours on the field for days with new faces and personalities. Determining if a college athlete life is for her or not. Learning how to adapt and overcome while avoiding injury as well. Training on and off the field. Fueling the body for competition. Resting the mind amidst finals and semester-end deadlines. Challenging herself to be a better version of her. It’s all relative. It’s a process. It takes dedication, determination and a bit of badassery.
I’m a copilot of sorts. The errand girl. The roadie. The fan girl. It’s still a hard job. Navigating maps, finding fields, lugging gear, packing sustainable food for energy, being prepared for any weather, traveling to unknown places, finding accommodations and so much more. I’m in the muck of it all. I’ll wipe tears if they are shed. I’ll pull out the bandaids when needed. I will snap the all the photos allowed to capture the memories as well. I even deal with the nasty attitude when fatigue sets in and nobody is watching but me. No shame in my game/role.
It’s also funny to wade through the cemetery of bags, sticks, jackets, coats, sweats and so on. Where else could you experience the awkward smell of stinky feet and body odor in the cool crisp air? These are the memories I will cherish no matter how gross they sound in my writings.
Our crazy schedule is not for the weak at heart. We spend many days on the road. We spend time away from family and friends. We wake up early. We get into bed late. We battle rain, snow, wind, cold and heat. All to chase a dream. Her dream at the moment. A dream many may not ever achieve and many may never attempt. This is our journey or path right now. Our time together. Wherever she ends up she will know I supported her dream.
As I wrap up this post I take a deep sigh. Reflecting on how grateful I am to be able to take this walk with her. To support her. To praise her efforts. It’s a one of a kind opportunity for both of us. I share this post to provide a glimpse to others who may not have the opportunity to see this lens of life.
Fourteen states she has played competitive lacrosse in. The sport of lacrosse has allowed her to meet people and see new places while mastering her performance as a woman in sports. I’m not sure how many more states will be visited as she narrows down her college wish list.
it was an early rise day trip. 80 degrees was the high but it wasn’t 55 yet early in the morning. I opted for layers this day. Had the snacks and drinks packed and ready the night before. Off we went.
We caught a before sunrise glimpse in the distance off the glistening water of Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. Not really planned but much enjoyed beauty. It was a mostly quiet ride in the car being as it was early in the morning and nobody had coffee. I planned for a long bike ride around the campus of Clemson University to kill time however my bike had other plans for me. My air pump didn’t work and my rear tire just wasn’t feeling like it had enough air to lift my load on this day. A let down of sorts but off to do other things I suppose.
A little fitness adventure course caught my eye on campus. I gave that a go for a little bit. I wasn’t great at anything but I gave this new piece of equipment a try in its various fitness activities. From the monkey bars to pull-up bars to ab workout. It was all interesting, compact and free for anyone who wanted to give it a go. I thought that was pretty cool.
After that mini sweat session I strolled around a bit. Watched some games going on. There was plenty of orange color everywhere. Circled into town. Grabbed some souvenirs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much orange in one place before even at a pumpkin patch. It was interesting to say the least.
Had a nice lunch in town. Checked out the sights. Saw some graffiti art. I stopped at a cute bagel shop and I ordered the Mr. T. Who could resist a turkey and cheese bagel sandwich named after the one and only Mr. T from the A-team. What a flash back to childhood.
Today represents the first of many road trips as I enter the college touring circuit with my youngest. Mixed emotions but definitely looking forward to the travel adventures to see what her future journey may look like. Many new roads ahead. Making the memories that will be cherished for years to come. Capturing and documenting every bit of story along the way.
Sometimes my readers will have a front seat with me. Other times I may just enjoy the solo ride. Either way this one one of many first for us as a duo. The road to college is interesting.