Don’t Ruin Taco Tuesday

Don't Ruin Taco Tuesday

If I wrote How I Became This Mother today, the story would go a little different; the tone would lean more toward the negative.

Parenting feels hard some days.

It’s not any one thing, really. I’m hashtag blessed with decently behaved children who do well in school. They have a few really good friends. They participate in sports and extra-curricular activities. We have one special need in the hearing loss department, but it doesn’t usually get in the way of anything we want to do as a family.

But some days, man.

It’s funny, too. During my workday while they were at school, I felt pretty good. I got a lot of work done. I felt on top of things. I thought to myself, “When the boys get home, we’re going to have a great time together.” I felt in control of my moods and my anxiety.

I picked them up from school and nothing felt out of the ordinary. In fact, as we’re in the downhill slide toward the end of our school year, things feel exceptionally easy. No homework. Happy kids. Good times.

But then the time crunch started.

The older boy needed to arrive at the ball fields to warm up for his six o’clock game by 5:15. Kid pitch games don’t go quickly—walk, steal, walk, steal, home run, steal—and my family can’t wait until after 8:00 in the evening to eat dinner. We sometimes eat at the ball field, but I wasn’t feeling hot dogs or “taco in a bag.” My bean tacos (Taco Tuesday!) are a quick 15 minute meal, so I threw them together.

And then I called the boys to the dining room.

One child arrived immediately. One child did not. When I called the dawdling child on it, he gave me attitude.

And my wheels fell off.

I’ll eat cereal for dinner if I’m by myself. I don’t care enough about my nutrition, though I should. But I put time and effort into planning and preparing meals for these two boys so that they can have enough energy to do all the things they do, including talking non-stop. That takes a lot of energy, folks. I keep healthy meals which they enjoy on rotation. I plan those quick and healthy meals for game or practice nights so they don’t get hangry at practice and beg me for junk from the concession stand. I put a lot of work in during baseball season especially to make sure these two are well fed and ready to go.

I don’t expect a ticker tape parade for my meal planning efforts. I don’t. They won’t appreciate the thought and work that goes into feeding a family until they’re involved in the process. (And don’t even attempt to say that they won’t really understand it because they’re boys because my husband fully participates in this endeavor, he just happened to be at work today. We will raise our sons to be participatory in all actions of the household. End of discussion.) Most nights the boys thank me for dinner, but sometimes we get lost in conversation and they forget. It’s fine. I recognize that I took the meals that both my mom and dad (again, both participatory) planned and made for us as we grew up for granted, especially on nights I had places to be and things to do. I had no shortage of extra-curriculars and my parents always had a hot meal for me.

But, damn, son. All I did was call you to the table with enough time for us to eat our food, have our daily dinner conversation, clean up the dinner mess, get you dressed for baseball, and out the door on time for your game. And you wanna wag your head at me and shake your finger and act like I’m somehow disrupting your day because I made you a hot meal, one that you love? Nope. Sorry, Charlie.

And so, I yelled. I said things I regret. I sent a kid to his room.

Then I had to calm down the other kid. Take ten deep breaths over my tacos, which were delicious, by the way, and call the room-sent-away kid back to the table. I had to apologize to him, both for word choice and for my inability to keep my cool. But then I explained, calmly, the work that I do to get food on the table for them before they have to go play games or practice. I explained that we seem to have a problem with “coming when called,” and that both their father and I are quickly losing patience. And I apologized some more because, you guys, I really like these two boys. I like parenting. I like being a mom. I like making meals that are delicious and healthy and filling and, well, I just like food.

But don’t sass me when I call you to the table on a really full scheduled night. Because I might just lose my shit over tacos. Tacos. Don’t ruin Taco Tuesday. Just come to the table and tell me about your day. I’m your mom and I really want to know about it.

PS: When we got to the field, the kid with the game said, “I forgot to put on my cleats.” And I didn’t cuss once. So there.

Race Recap: The Time the Facebook Algorithm Made Me Run the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay

I opened Facebook on Wednesday, likely to do something for work. That’s the problem with working in social media: the Facebook brings the shiny on the regular. A friend of mine from college posted an update asking for a runner to join their Pittsburgh Marathon Relay Team as another runner dropped out. Actually, she didn’t drop out. She ghosted them. She just stopped replying to anything they sent. Not cool.

I pulled myself from the Toledo Marathon, which took place last weekend, because of a knee injury. My knee injury was healed and I like running as much as the next runner, so I told her if they didn’t find someone by Friday, I’d run. Then I remembered I’d previously scheduled a LuLaRoe pop-up boutique for Sunday. I immediately told them about my previous engagement and pouted for the rest of the night.

On Friday night, my Sunday party host canceled her party and I immediately sent my friend Amanda a message to see if they’d found a runner yet. Nope! I called my mom to confirm she could watch the kids while I ran. She could. And so, it was final: I became a sub on their Pittsburgh Marathon Relay Team.

I ran the Pittsburgh Full Marathon in 2014 and the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in 2015. I’d wanted to run the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, but I’d never had the gumption to form a team. I don’t really want to run with my husband and his firefighter friends because they pace way faster than me. So being tossed into a team like this, especially one running for Cystic Fibrosis, felt like a little bit of “meant to be.”

Mom woke me up at 3:30 on Sunday morning. I drank some coffee, got dressed, side braided the front of my hair, and drove downtown. No traffic. Liberty Avenue closed at 2:30 AM, so I took Ft. Duquesne Ave up to the Civic Center, turned right on Penn, and parked in the garage on Penn. Smart choice. Since I had no traffic, I sat in my car for awhile and played games on my phone, liked Instagram photos that happened after I went to bed at 9:30, and generally relaxed. The sun started to come up and showed off a gray day.

After I left my car, I found that I couldn’t cross Liberty to get to Market Square where I was to meet the team at 6:20. I asked a police officer and Pittsburgh Marathon staff member which direction I should go to get around the blockade. They told me it wasn’t blocked to cross if I went another two blocks down. So I did. And they were right. I used a super clean porta-potty, waited around, and eventually caught up with my team.

Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, Pre-Race Team Pics

They gave me hugs and thanked me for jumping in at the last minute. We took some photos. And then it was off to corrals and relay check points.

This is the only snafu of the day. Amanda and I were supposed to cross the Smithfield bridge to get to the Station Square check point. But they had all streets blocked to get to the bridge blocked due to the finishers corral. Eventually, we ran into a Marathon Staff Member named Patrice and a police officer who listened to our plight and let us through a blockade. We quickly crossed the Smithfield bridge and waited at our exchange.

In the rain.

It rained for a good hour. And then stopped. Then the wind made me a little cold. Then I dried off. And then our runners arrived and we were off.

Amanda and I lucked out and got to run the third leg of the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay which starts in Station Square, drops down through the South Side, turns left across the Birmingham Bridge (which I have a side story about; go read it), and then begins to climb the hill into Oakland.

When I ran the Pittsburgh Full Marathon in 2014, I let that hill beat me. In fact, I let that hill beat me months before I even attempted to run up it. I made the hill SO BIG in my mind that it couldn’t possibly be run all in one go. I felt really disappointed in myself when I couldn’t run up it that year. So this year? I was going to conquer that monster.

And we did. All the way up. I felt like I could do anything at that point. Which was good because we still had just under four miles left to run—and most of it was still moving up hill. Yes, there were some glorious, but not lengthy, downhills. And no, the uphills weren’t as steep and long. But during one particular hill, as we crested the top, I said to Amanda, “That was a tricky little hill.” It was a, to be cliche, constant uphill battle.

And we won it. Together.

Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, Me and Amanda

We ran up every single one of those hills, down every side, and when we saw the Relay Exchange Point, we kicked it into high gear and finished strong. Amanda claims that she couldn’t have done it without me, and I feel like maybe I couldn’t have done it without her, too. Teamwork is a beautiful thing. I do love my running time as extra-special alone time to recharge my introvert, but there’s something special and forward-moving when you race with a friend. It just keeps you going because you don’t want to let the other person down. I’m glad we did it together.

After grabbing some Gatorade and a banana, we hopped on the shuttle and headed back downtown to meet the team at the William Penn, which is my most favorite hotel in the world. We stunk up the corner by Starbucks and shared our experiences while waiting for the rest of our teammates to finish. Still wearing my bib, my barista wrote my name down on my cup, which is what most people yelled at me while I was running.

Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, Not Abby
Not Abby

I then met the groups’ significant others whom the group refers to as Core Support. They lugged a cooler of water, Gatorade and, uh, yes, beer around the entire city, including into the lobby of the William Penn. I decided at this point that I really liked these people. They made each other laugh and they made me laugh; laughter is good.

Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, Core Support

We then headed down to Point State Park for photos and so I could grab this year’s Dona Jo Fitwear Runner of Steel running skirt seeing as how I didn’t get to go to the Expo because I was a last minute sub.

Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, Post-Race Pics

When I walked back to the garage, I had to walk the stairs up to my car, get my parking ticket, and walk back down the stairs to pay. And then walk back up again. My legs were still functioning at that point, so it wasn’t really an issue. To leave, I turned left on Penn, right on Stanwix, left on Ft. Duquesne, and merged onto the Fort Pitt Bridge without any traffic or problem. It was a smart parking choice indeed.

Back at The Farm, I had a gin and tonic in the hot tub, a hot shower, and a steak. I felt great… and then I drove two hours home. In that time, my legs cramped up. Today I’m dealing with a little more soreness than I normally would with a 10K race, likely due to the hills.

I’m totally glad the Facebook algorithm showed me a post from a friend needing a runner on that day… instead of three days later, like Facebook usually does. Because the algorithm knows I love the Pittsburgh Marathon, I got to run another race. Thanks, Facebook.


I do encourage you to donate to the fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis. As the member who ghosted my friend not only left them short a runner, she also didn’t do any fundraising and their team is short the money right now. Any help is appreciated.