Before I was even in the den, while I was cooking the rice and slicing the onions and peppers, for a dinner of burrito’s, Clint Dempsey put it away. Screaming ensued, social media roared, and the family text chain went wild, wooing and hollering. Could they hold on for 95 more minutes, though, when the headlines were practically already written claiming victory for Ghana? And did my neighbors realize nobody was killed in a brutal attack inside my house, but just excited about soccer?
Then the injuries began. What appeared to be a torn hamstring that I could feel rip down my own leg. Striker Jozy Altidore was laying on the field feeling like I did when I was having Jake and the epidural didn’t work. He was down, and so was my family. Then Dempsey took a leg to the nose. Again, I could feel the pain on my own face. But Forget it, he was having none of it. They stuffed some stuff up his nostrils, and he played on, while clearly in a massive amount of pain. And somehow, though Ghana had what seemed like a million shots on goal, the US hung on. When they finally scored, it seemed the dream might be over, and they’d finally hit their stride, but again, somehow, like magic, the US kept them at bay, and then with a few minutes left, scored again. An unlikely US victory. Against all odds, and just like that.
We love soccer around here. My brother-in-law is a sports writer, and expert soccer guy. Ally plays on an elite club team, and just won the state cup, Jake knows more about it than he should, and Peter has watched more games than a high school coach. And me, I have learned to love this sport where you don’t use your hands. It’s fast, and fun to watch. And yesterday was a perfect example of riding the roller coaster of a soccer game. And while we were happy for team USA, we all felt that Ghana’s play had been superior, and that really they should have won, but that’s the heartbreak of this game. It’s what’s weird and hard, but heck, I’ll take it.
What is it that makes those of us keep stuff that we don’t really want to keep anymore? Why, for some people, do we hold onto particular items like they were appendages, even though we want to shed them like unwanted body hair and cellulite?
I am cleaning. Cleaning like I’m moving. Getting rid of shit I don’t want, and allowing myself to let it go, buy bye. It makes me feel like I’ve lost weight. And that’s always good.
One problem I have is sentimentality. The blankets Jake and Ally carried around as toddlers, their “Bi’s” as they were called, and don’t ask, maybe they were bisexual blankets, I don’t know. Those are ok to keep, right? They might even like them when they’re older, but what about every piece of paper they ever touched with a marker, pen, pencil, crayon, paintbrush? Um, not so much. What about all those books that signify a time when we read to them, over and over and over again before bed? What if they want them for their own kids? Buy ’em again, I say, and purge. But these are the kinds of things I run into when I’m trying to get clean. These are the nagging decisions. An old soccer shirt collection of Ally’s, a million photos (and seriously, I think there might be a million), a puppet theater, a high end electric organ. I just recycled a pile of home magazines that I’ve been collecting over the past decade, if not longer. I believe, if I’d counted, I would have been at around 400, at least. It was like my hands were magnetic, with the pull those magazines had on me. But out they went into the blue bin. My kids think I might sneak out in the night and bring them back into the house. But they’re wrong. It feels good to liquidate. A little piece of my brain has opened back up for business.
And so, I will keep up this commitment to clean for as long as it takes. And I will float around feeling lighter, better, more organized. And I will try to stop being that person who keeps things because they signify a different time. That ship has sailed. And unless you allow it out of your harbor, no other boats can come gliding in.
My husband Peter has a lofty resume. He’s a biochemist and he is hoping to bring a drug to market to help people with Parkinson’s disease. That’s pretty great, but what he’d probably tell you his real profession is, is being a dad.
It wasn’t easy for us to have kids. I had infertility that took up three years of our lives, made us cry and worry and have sex when we didn’t feel like it. It’s a longer story, isn’t everything a longer story, but let’s get to the good part. The part where all that fucking actually worked and we finally brought two kids into the world (not at the same time), but they got here and that’s all that really matters, because that’s how Peter got the job of his dreams.
This is daddy’s little girl. God, she loves her father.
Peter was smitten from the moment curious and energetic Jake arrived. He slept in the hospital with us, and looked goo goo eyed, and not just from lack of shut eye, but from pure unadulterated joy. He took a bunch of time off to be with Jake and didn’t mind the hours like I did. He was in awe of our new boy, and while I was crabby and crazy from not sleeping, he was just happy. He seemed to be able to exist on a diet of bottles and dirty diapers. When Ally came tumbling down the birth canal a month early with a full head of hair, Peter had a new girl in his life. He fell hard and fast. Ally cried for the first six months of her life, the doctors never knew why. She was inconsolable, and so was I. But not her daddy. He never quavered in his affection or endless patience for her.
We’ve both given our all to parenting. But Peter has given everything. In every way. Those kids are like oxygen to him. He has grown up with them, and made most of the large choices in our lives for them. He has kissed boo boo’s better, nursed the fevers and viruses that kept them up at night, and spent hours and hours on math homework (I was useless by second grade on this front). He’s been to every baseball, basketball and soccer game each of them has ever played. And that is a lifetime, I can tell you. When his kids are in pain, he’s practically incapacitated. He guides Jake on his choices, he supports Ally’s love of soccer and travel schedule with the organization of the Secretary of State. He attends every out of the way game, rain, snow, blazing heat (and believe we’ve been to games in all those kinds of weather). While I give in to sleep, he always waits up for them, and will be the pick up dad at any time of the night. He will even drive Ally to school, which is approximately 90 seconds from here (I didn’t say everything he does is good, I just said he does it).
So, here’s to a dad who is present, giving, and always there for his kids. A dad who almost wasn’t (and what a damn shame that would have been). Here’s to Peter for the job he does best. It’s not always easy, but you’ve pushed yourself and made two very awesome kids. They love you for it. And so do I.
The Westboro Baptist Church people have nothing to do with God. They aren’t a religion, they’re an ugly scar on the earth. They’re the exact opposite of all that is good and holy. So, I really liked this story. Anything anybody can do to piss this group off is just fine with me. In fact, I’m grateful for it. Nice police work, officer.
When I was a kid, it was assassinations. In line at the First National, our favorite grocery store check out lady, Stella, a small woman with a foot of sprayed black hair on her head told us that President Kennedy had been killed. I was four and I watched my mom cry. At nine, I had my tonsils out and was in a lot of pain. In the middle of the night, my dad woke me up and carried me downstairs to the tv and said, “Robert Kennedy was shot, this is history.” Earlier that year, in April, Martin Luther King was also assassinated, stripping the country of a man who changed it. Three in a row.
Now it’s school shootings. There have been 74 since Sandy Hook, a town that I grew up next door to. What are we doing? What’s going on? How can this have happened 74 times since that massacre in Newtown? I want to stand in the street today and scream that we have to save our kids. I feel like I’m watching some lame movie and yelling from the audience, “Just change the gun laws. Awww, this is such a stupid plot, why isn’t anybody changing the gun laws?”
Our kids are going to school and not coming home. And not because they’re kissing in the back seat of a car, or smoking in the woods. No, it’s much worse than that. School has historically been a place that was safe. But that’s changed. And somehow I feel, we’re all just letting it happen. Are we getting desensitized to the sound bite, the “breaking news” that “there’s been another school shooting.”
This is clearly a multi dimensional issue made up of gun laws and mental health access, but it’s also something else. Something that I wonder about. What is it about this time in our history that has made kids act out in this particular way? Certainly there were students that were mentally unbalanced and had access to guns when I was a kid, who didn’t put them in their back packs with their bologna sandwiches, and plans to shoot up the student council. Why? What’s different? Is it increased social pressure, from the smiling faces on social media? Is it the violence of video games? Is it the shoot ’em up movies Hollywood is producing? Is it the isolation that can come by way of a generation glued to their computers? Those are all things that were not present in my childhood. And so I wonder, is this combination of things that have tipped troubled kids into acting out by killing their classmates?
I don’t have any answers. Except one. We have to do what we can to make gun laws stricter TODAY. Before this happens again. And before we are no longer moved when it does.
When it’s all done, when real life can get back to being real life, it’s kinda nice. I’ve been working for months on that prom party for 400 that I posted a few days ago, and then had some graduations to attend, of kids I am very close to, and now Monday morning, the world is back to regular. When I have a lot to do like the last few months, it’s like I breath in, and can’t let my breath back out until it’s all finished. I do believe I let out a two month big breath this morning. And ah, it felt amazing. No more worrying about making the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s come alive in three gyms. No more cards to make, no more dredging my computer for pictures, pressing my brain for memories and meaningful things that I want to say to the graduates. Graduation season 2014 is officially history. And even though I didn’t have a cap and gown-er this year, I gotta say, it was exhausting. File under “Congratulations, but I’m taking a nap.”
Dear parents of about to be high school graduates:
I have a little advice for you.
I was you last year on this day. It was sunny and beautiful just like it is today. You probably have a range of complex emotions, some which may even be associated with the fact that you have family here for the blessed event and can’t stand them. But go forth my friends, this day is a big deal. On to my advice.
1. If you’re going to Brookline’s ceremony, bring sunscreen, a hat, a full box of tissues, water, and if you can swing it, an air conditioner. Also if you’re shooting in actual film, bring more than you think you need, because although you know you’ll take a lot of pictures, you will take more than that.
2. Today is the beginning of the change. Yes, we women go through the change in our 50’s, but this is the late adolescent change, and you should be prepared. No matter how lovely, sweet and adorable your kid is, they’re just about to board the “summer of detachment” bus. This bus travels through the summer months trying to drive away from you. It acts up and acts out, but this is just in preparation to drive to its new destination. This is normal. This does not mean your kid doesn’t love you. It’s just the opposite, your kid loves you so much, it’s hard for him/her to leave you, but they have to, on account of it’s part of life. And they’re trying to figure out a way to do it. Hence the bus. Hang in there, they’ll be back soon enough.
3. Expect to be weepy and happy and crazy and mad a lot this summer, as you too, try and figure out this next stage and what it means for your family. If this is the last kid to fly the coop, leaving the nest empty, you have a whole new world ahead of you. This takes some getting used to, but just remember, you have a whole bunch of new found freedom. I suggest swearing a lot and walking around the house naked, you know things you couldn’t do when your kids were in the house. Go out all night. Leave the kitchen dirty. Eat cereal for dinner. Celebrate the stuff you can do now. You’ll miss having your kids in the house, but have fun with in your new gig, there’s a lot to enjoy. If you still have kids at home, this is a whole other story. It will take some time to adjust to the new family dynamic. It took us several months, but it was great once we did, and it’s allowed us to get to know our daughter in a whole new way.
4. On that college drop off. It’s sad. No way around it. That little baby, that you’ve known all your life, who’s endless and disgustingly smelly diapers you have changed, is about to take his/her first step to independence. You’ll be fragile and excited. This is what you’ve been preparing them for. You done good, mom and dad. Let yourself cry.
5. They will be back. Physically and emotionally. And they will be different, as their college experience will have changed them. Jake is not the same as he was when he left, because he learned a lot and while things are going well this summer, they are different. In a good way. But I will never quite get over the massive and constant transitions we parents have to experience with our kids. But you only have to look to this to know you will survive, because the truth is, you have done this before, in fact, you’ve done it all their lives. You watched a tiny baby who could do nothing but cry, drink and dirty diapers turn into a walker, talker, menace to a clean house. You have gone through the transition of leaving them at pre-school, with guilt in your heart. You have watched them master each grade, sport, mean friends and nice ones. You’ve had the “changing body talk”, the “sex talk”, the “don’t do drugs talk”. You have seen them excel, find themselves a little at a time, fall in love, navigate the complicated and wonderful big world. You’ve been going with the flow and adjusting to their constantly changing little selves since they were born. And you did it. This is no different. They just aren’t in your house while they’re doing it, and you are out a whole bunch of money. But my point is, that you will survive, flourish even. I promise. I did. Happy graduation day. Don’t forget those tissues.