I ran some errands yesterday evening and came home to this:
All three male figures in my household in the front yard, working on throwing the baseball. LittleBrother tossed the ball at the pitch back, occasionally catching it on the way back. BigBrother slowly worked through his pitching form, lobbing ball after ball at my husband.
As soon as baseball season ended this week, BigBrother started asking his dad to teach him to pitch. My husband pitched back in his day; so did I, but softball, not baseball. I watched as my oldest son think through each move to make, taking care to hit each individual movement perfectly.
Baseball season may be over for this year, but we’ll have many more seasons like this; evenings in the front yard, catching and throwing, pitching and learning.
As part of the BlogHer ’14 Selfiebration, Julie Ross Godar asked a question today: Where were you ten years ago?
Funny timing, that.
Exactly 10.5 years ago, on December 19, 2003, I moved to Ohio. I meant to blog about it on the 10 year anniversary back in December, but this December hit me hard. Harder than most Decembers. The date came and went and I kept on living in Ohio.
But 10.5 years ago, my now-husband showed up with a U-Haul truck and parked outside of my apartment building. My father, grandfather, and love of my life worked to pack what little I had into the truck. I carried light things, gingerly, having just given birth to the Munchkin six days earlier. The woman upstairs asked my dad questions about being a new grandpa; he didn’t make eye contact as he offered his answers. I cried in the empty bathroom.
By the time we set off for Ohio, the snow started to fall. I followed behind the U-Haul in my gray Mercury Topaz, hoping not to slip and slide on the narrow roads we needed to take to get to the main highway. Eventually we arrived at the apartment. I moved to Ohio sight unseen; my now-husband sought out and rented our first place without me as my complicated pregnancy kept me on bedrest. I pulled up in front of the brown brick building and smiled.
The first six months in Ohio passed quickly. I quickly found a job to hold me over until a job opened at the local NBC affiliate. I worked a lot. I burned a lot of meals. We learned that thick chicken breasts take all the hours to grill on a charcoal grill. I learned how to live with a boy. I learned how to be a birth mother involved in fully open adoption. I cried a lot. I missed my baby more than I could verbalize at the time, more than I thought I was allowed to verbalize at the time.
And then that June, 10 years ago, my daughter and her family came to visit.
I don’t remember the specifics about that visit.
But I remember feeling simultaneously happy and sad. I remember being overwhelmed and at peace. I remember wondering how feeling those opposite extremes could be possible. I didn’t know yet that I’d be living that dichotomy for the rest of my life, that the pain would dull but would always be present.
Ten years ago I didn’t know what I was missing in having chosen not to parent my daughter. I didn’t know that postpartum depression and the grief of relinquishment were mixing together in a volatile way. I didn’t yet know what I didn’t know. Ten years ago I was still living under the guise that it would get easier; I believed what the unethical adoption facilitator spoon fed me. I needed to believe it or I wouldn’t have made it through that first year.
Ten years ago I had no idea the joy that yet awaited me. Or the heartache. Or the hard work. Or the laughter. Or the tears. Or the other children I would parent. Or the miscarriage. Or the dog. Or the friends. Or the love. Or the houses. Or anything. Ten years ago I was a tired, broken little girl, missing her daughter, in love with a boy, and hoping against hope that the future would be worth living for…
…and it was.
Baseball season ended last night.
As we sat at the field from 5:45 to 9:30pm, I found myself with time to reminisce over this season. Things didn’t always go according to plan, but the boys learned a lot about the fundamentals of baseball, about teamwork, about winning, and yes, about losing.
And about brotherhood.
Sitting and watching your brother’s game on a night you don’t have one yourself isn’t a bucket o’ fun. Having to sit through a game after you’ve already played or before you play isn’t really great either.
But they did. Each and every game.
No technology to keep them “busy” during the game. No books. No running around with the other kids. They sat and watched the game. They sat in their penguin chair and cheered for their brother. Sometimes they asked for a dollar to walk to the concession stand, and sometimes I sent them on an errand to the concession stand for my own well-being because soft pretzels make me happy. But for the most part, they sat.
And they did pay attention.
Last night, BigBrother waited on third as another teammate batted. The kid hit the ball and the base coach did a “run, don’t run, run, don’t run, okay run” kind of call. Which is totally helpful to an eight-year-old trying to learn the rules of the game, the ins and outs of ins and outs. So eventually, BigBrother started running toward home. By this time, the opposing team figured out that the base coach flubbed the call and threw the ball home to their catcher. While not all coach pitch level catchers know what to do, this kid sure did. As BigBrother dropped down to slide, so did the catcher. Right on top of him. As the dust settled around the epic slide and collision, BigBrother came up crying.
I tossed my chair aside and run-walked out onto the field to retrieve my injured boy. He just had a bumped chin and bit tongue, no blood, but I walked him back to the dugout all the same.
As we rounded the corner of the fence to head into the dugout, LittleBrother stood waiting, handing his water bottle over to his brother to make him feel better.
I mean, that’s just awesome. Not only did the kid pay enough attention to his brother’s game, but he wanted to do something to make his brother feel better. Empathy, y’all. My mommy heart grew three sizes as I walked back to my abandoned chair at the fence.
I fell even more in love with baseball last night as I watched my two sons care for one another. (But, can I admit I’m glad to have our schedule back? Oh, good. Let’s summer.)
Today I ran for the 22nd day in a row.
Four days ago, the 18th of 40 days in this RunStreak, marked the first day I really didn’t want to run, but I ran it anyway.
How I’ve managed to run at least one mile every day during the loss of my grandmother, I don’t quite know. But this is why I chose to do the Runner’s World Summer RunStreak. If it wasn’t for this challenge, I wouldn’t be running right now.
I wouldn’t have gotten myself dressed and out the door the morning after my grandmother passed in the middle of the night, a night during which I only slept two interrupted hours. I wouldn’t have run every day home on The Farm. I wouldn’t have run today, the first day that the “Real Feel” crept into the 90′s, the humidity thick and awful. Summer running is my least favorite running ever. I overheat easily. I hate being hot. It’s a bad time.
But I ran. I have run. I have been running. I continue to run. I run.
Training for the Columbus (Half) Marathon starts in just under two weeks. As in Monday, June 30, 2014. As in two weeks from today. As in holy moly. If it wasn’t for this RunStreak, I wouldn’t have been running even the bare minimum of seven miles per week (1 mile minimum per day). I would instead laze it up and blame it on the heat or the circumstance or the feelings or the grief or the beer. Instead I’ve maintained a base fitness, however low. (Though I’ve also added in some circuit training, so I may be even more fit than at marathon time. Debatable, really.) As such, I’m not dreading the start of marathon training, even during the dog days of summer. Even with my employer’s conference coming up during the training schedule. Even with kids being home and summer things going on and wanting to relax and be and feel and breathe.
I’m not pretending that the training cycle will be easy. I remember training for the Columbus Half last summer and thinking, “Oh man! I really prefer training for a spring half marathon!” And then this year, I trained for a spring full marathon and I thought, “Oh man! I’m never doing this again!” And then I finished the marathon and thought, “Oh man! I’d like to do this again!” That’s the thing about running: You just keep on keeping on. Some of the upcoming 16 weeks of training won’t feel great. They will hurt. They will be ugly. And some? Will be amazing. Eventually, October 19th will roll around. I’ll run the half marathon with my husband, his first, and I’ll feel that same overwhelming sense of accomplishment as I cross the finish line.
And I’ll have the Runner’s World Summer RunStreak to thank, in part, for keeping me moving when I didn’t want to be moving. For challenging me when I needed to be challenged. For pushing me when I needed to be pushed.
There are 18 days left of this RunStreak. Our family vacation falls in that time span, and it would be easy to sleep in and let the days slip by. I’ll get up. I’ll run. I’ll give thanks for the ability to do so. I’ll finish this RunStreak stronger than I was when I started, if only mentally in knowing that I can do it.
I can do this.
Today marked his ninth Father’s Day.
The boys brought him breakfast in bed—pancakes with butter like I got on Mother’s Day. We gave him a bag full of summer clothing as a gift. He needed some new clothes to wear when we go on our beach vacation this year. If I could have, I would have bought him all of the things ever, because I just feel so lucky to be parenting these two children with him.
I’ve been lucky to have great dads in my life: my dad, my grandfather, my husband.
We spent the day relaxing, churching, napping, eating, sunning, playing games, and generally being family. It was low key, and so perfect for 2014.