Five Minute Warning

February 23, 2014

I’m not sure when it started. Maybe last week. Maybe just before Christmas. That’s the way it is. One day I wake up and realize that we have entered a new phase. And it hurts, the surprise of knowing the last phase is done. I didn’t mark it with a cake or a photograph or even a moment where I looked around and made a point of remembering what it felt like.

I’m talking about the movements of my families life. The segueways are less than graceful as I passed thru being a mom to babies, to the stressful role as guardian to toddlers to suddenly waking up and finding my role is that of driver, provider of dinner and cash. Tonight I became aware that I am no longer the central figure in my kids lives.

Katy, my 10 year old daughter, is off with a friends family skiing. She has always been a “mini me.” I never asked her to be. She stumbled into swim team, and playing the flute, and long afternoons hidden inside a book, all by herself.

I have never been much of a skier, I have problems walking down our back steps after it snows three inches. And trying to slide down a hill, on boards, wield poles; well I have problems juggling my purse and a bag of groceries. So I was a little worried about how successful she’d be on her winter weekend in New Hampshire.

This morning, she called me on the phone and told me she had gone down the intermediate slope and ridden a chair lift and asked when I could take her shopping for ski socks. Then she said “I love you mom.” I love you, mom,” is Katy code for “let me off the phone now, breakfast is waiting, and then I am going back out to hit the slopes.” i think. I’m not quite as sure of her as I was yesterday. 

Colin, my thirteen year old, is over at a friend’s house. I got to drive them over there, and tonight there were no awkward pauses in their conversation. They spoke easily about basketball and video games and homework.  I drove, quiet, and listened to every word. I like to hear my son talk to his friends. He is casual and confident and funny. We were supposed to watch a movie tonight, but I’m fine with his defection. I wouldn’t have liked the movies he suggested. Last night I forced him into an evening of sitcoms so it would have been his turn to pick. The last time he picked we watched “The Purge”. I got off easy.

So here I am, home alone. The kids are with their friends and I am the last thing on their minds. I will wake up early tomorrow and go the gym with a friend while they sleep in, exhausted from whatever the hell they are up to tonight.

And that is the way it should be.

When they were little, and we had to go somewhere, or leave somewhere, or even have dinner, I’d call out at least ten minutes in advance, “five minute warning, guys.” And five minutes later I’d do it again. And everyone would get to the table or to the car or into their swimsuits at just the right time.

This time, I really would have appreciated a five minute warning.

Valentines Day

February 14, 2014

It’s Valentines Day.

Our day started out with my husband in full scale hysteria. He couldn’t find my car keys, he was afraid I’d forget about dentist’s appointment. Our son had left his cell phone at home. Our daughter hadn’t done a good job brushing her hair. All of these, and more, (the price of gas, if the pellet stove needed another cleaning, if he was to start getting tickets because we couldn’t afford to donate much to the policemen’s benevolent association…) were dancing around my beloved’s head this morning until his demeanor resembled a poodle on crack. No, I have never seen a poodle on crack, and after witnessing my husband in one of these moods, I can say with no hesitation at all, I don’t want to see a poodle on crack.

I don’t write much about my relationship with this man. In the tough times, I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to indulge in a one sided kvetch to the cyberworld and I wouldn’t be brave enough to post his side of the story. In the good times, we are in the middle of the good times, and I wouldn’t want to take time away from whatever moments of marital bliss to take notes for my readers.

And I’m not sure if we are in the middle of good times or bad times right now. Right now, I know that when he fusses and fumes about keys and appointments it is his very creative and irritating way of showing me he cares. He doesn’t want my teeth to fall out of my head, or leave me at home waiting for Triple A to come unlock my car for me, again. So when I tell him to “Shut Up!!!’ I try to say those words as lovingly as I can.
It briefly flitted thru my head that my gift to him this morning was not throwing a dirty sponge at his head.

I found my car keys. I made it to my appointment. And then, he picked me up from the dentist and took me to breakfast. A little egg slipped out of my mouth, novocaine was my appetizer. He reached over, and wiped it off my chin without saying a word.

A lot of the time I truly don’t know if he’s my one true love, the father of my children, or a really good friend that I fell into spending my life with. But I know I am a very, very lucky woman.

Because no matter how many times I tell him to shut up, he still has something to say to me at the end of the day. And I am happy to listen, especially if he’s not talking about what I’ve just lost or what I’m likely to forget.

Without him, I’d probably be wearing dentures and riding a bike.

Happy Valentines Day.

Basketball Boy

February 8, 2014

My son is in 8th grade. Somehow, there was some crazy genetic mix up and I gave birth to an athlete. He can throw a football as easily as I spill coffee on my shirt. He beat us all at mini golf when he was eight. He can run faster than a greyhound, and oh my, my kid can play basketball.

I haven’t seen him play that much this year. I’ve been out sick with a chest cold that left me stranded on the sofa for weeks. Before that I was busy working three jobs, and since then, trying to keep those three jobs after being sick for weeks.

In other words, I’ve been walking around slightly hunched over, weighed heavy with the guilt of being the mom to the one kid without anyone in the bleachers to cheer him on. (Though if you know anything about 13 year old boys and organized sports, cheering from moms is not acceptable behavior. An occasional shout of either “Defense!” or “Nice play” is allowed as long as not specifically directed at offspring. Though I should probably check in because the rules are always changing.)

The season is coming to an end next week, so I made some adjustments. I raced thru work, enlisted another parent to drive my daughter to swim team, had a long conversation with my dog to explain that I really would take her for a doubly long walk tomorrow, and would try to do something about the temperature, and drove over to the Middle School. My gas tank was on E, but if I was going to rearrange my life to go to the game, I wanted to see the whole damn game.

I fall in love a little every time I watch Colin play ball. He races across the court so fast my heart quickens . He throws a pass to the guy that’s open without hesitation. He guards with a fierce scowl on his face, he steals the ball like it was meant for him all along. At one point he caught a pass, someone tripped him and he fell to the ground, ball clutched to his chest like it was the valuable thing in the world. On the court, my son is someone I don’t see at the breakfast table in the morning. Today I was so happy to sit on the sidelines watching this young man do something he loves so well.

At half time, his team filed out of the court for a meeting in the locker room. I stood outside the door so I could say hello as they left. As he opened the door, he saw me. His eyes turned to steel, he mouthed the words “not now-” he walked by me. He took a drink and followed the rest of the team without looking back.

This son of mine I had been swooning over, swooning over! had cut me to the quick. I thought of leaving the game, going out for coffee, heading home to hug my daughter. I just didn’t want to be there anymore.

The next half, I buried my head in my smart phone. I checked Facebook updates.I sent silly texts to a friend, who probably wondered why I was sending her silly texts because I am not a texting kind of woman. I downloaded 10 wonderful recipes for the slow cooker, then deleted them because I don’t want to make cake in a slow cooker, and my spaghetti sauce is pretty damn amazing. I didn’t watch the game. I didn’t try to catch his eye. I didn’t see him make the three point shot while being guarded by some 6 foot 2 behemoth who should have been in college.

The game finally ended. I waited for him in the car, which I did not pull around to meet him, even though he was wearing shorts and we are in the middle of the coldest winter in the history of the world. He walked to car, all swagger and sweat, and hopped in, smiling. He looked at me. He stopped smiling.

“What’s the matter?”

I’m not going to repeat what I said. A lot was the matter, or at that moment, a lot felt like the matter. And me being me, I had to share with him each and everything; words spilled out my mouth quicker and hotter than all of the tears that I’d held back while reading Facebook posts about kittens and restaurants and slow cooker cakes.

And he listened. And he sighed. And he promised it wouldn’t ever happen again. And Colin said “Mom, I’m sorry… Did you see the time that last basket?” And he smiled.

I told him I had.

We negotiated a deal for future games- he is required to say “Hi, Mom” when he is within six feet of me. And I am allowed to respond “Nice job, Col.”

I can live with that.

If he decides at anytime that he can’t, he’s going to have find another way home.

Moving to Maine

February 3, 2014

I had a plan for my next post, a topic, an outline, I’d bought myself some time to ruminate on healing and community, personal limitations and a way to redefine those limitations as opportunities. And I was going to write the word opportunities in italics. It was a well thought out plan.

Then, came a minor health scare with my daughter. And a power outage that, long story made so much shorter, ended up with us all sleeping in the living room last night.

After that night, I didn’t feel that time in front of the computer ruminating was called for. I needed to dive right back into our lives. First up on the new agenda, a trip to our church. Next, an adventure at the local ice skating rink, probably against doctor’s orders, followed by the highlight of everything-I’d watch the Super Bowl with my son. (I don’t care about the Superbowl, but my son does.)
Two years ago we took up skating, me and my kids. I hadn’t skated for thirty years. When I went, I had visions of leading them out, Colin clutching on one gracefully outstretched palm, Katy the other.
It was horrible. Thirty years is a long time. Colin and Katy grabbed milk crates and held onto to them while they figured it out. I held on to the wall and prayed and cursed a lot.

That was two years ago.
Since then, I’ve practiced. So even though I’m not cleared for the gym, I thought a few spins around the rink would be good. I’ve been sick. Katy had the glitch. Our power went out, now it’s on, but we all needed sometime to glide around in circles because who knew what was coming next.
And we skated. Katy, me, her friend Pennie and probably hundred other people. And for me, at least for a moment or two, it was easy. Which means as I slid across the ice, I was hearing Katy Perry and Keisha and some boy band sing, instead of me- breathing noisy, or cursing, or muttering= “what am I thinking… I’m too old for this.”

And then, I got a text from a son of a friend of mine, could he come by tonight to talk. He had something to say.

When this boy, I will call him “A”, says he has something to say, he has something to say. He is fifteen, but he is not a sports fan, or an alarmist.

So I skated my way to the bleachers, and called my son. Colin is a sportsfan. He is a Sports Fan. A is his friend, but I needed to clear his visit with Colin. The Super Bowl definitely isn’t a big deal to A.

Colin said I could invite A over, wanted to know what it was all about. Told him I didn’t know, but it sounded big, it might interfere with kickoff. Colin agreed, and sent me to the store for more buffalo wings.

This is not a long story. I shouldn’t have milked it. This is the thing. A came over to say he is leaving on Wednesday for private school. He hugged me when I fell forward a bit, he hugged me and lifted me up and held me strong, because he’s a strong boy. And I’m a sad woman, because I will miss him, but not so sad to not let him lift me up.

We spoke of Skype and cafeteria food, and how much Colin loves him. He showed me three or four vines, those short videos that are supposed to make everyone laugh, and I laughed, I think, when I was supposed to. I melted cheese in the microwave for him, I made sure he remembered his math homework. I drove him home after half time and talked about Skype some more. I’ve never skyped anyone in my life.

But I will learn. I learned how to skate, after forgetting. So I can certainly figure out how to stay in touch with my friend who is moving to Maine.