Friday didn’t suck. It’s the first Friday since the TRUTH DAY April 15th that hasn’t been gut-wrenching. Typically by Friday afternoon I am fighting back tears and am struggling to find some way of salvaging the day. This Friday I worked hard and then jetted to buy a surprise for me son. I scurried to pick him up and to grab the little girl. Rushing home I literally scrambled dinner—egg burritos and bacon for dinner. The bigs happily woofed down their food and then bolted out the door to the high school football game. The little grabbed her ipad and crawled up in my lap. I snuggled her and flipped on the TV. There was nothing spectacular that made it any different from any other Friday night. In fact it was boring, it was ho-hum and it was normal. It was just the first time that normal felt normal. The first time that everything felt whole and non-fractured. I didn’t ache for what I didn’t have, I didn’t mourn anything that was lost and I didn’t be-moan things that others have. It wasn’t a conscious decision to make this Friday better than the others. It just happened.
Saturday I donned by Titan shirt and excitedly began my career as a high school swim team Mom. And I loved it. I was surrounded by old friends, I was cheering on my boy and those that I feel like are mine and it was glorious. I was where I was supposed to be. I was who I am supposed to be. I was present and happy and so aware of how blessed being IN THAT MOMENT was. My precious little guy was happy and content. His world was right and that makes my world better. There is nothing more rewarding then watching my son do what he does. I watched him flip and twist (sort of) and dive for the first time ever. I saw him jump in the water against bigger, faster swimmers without a moment’s hesitation. I observed him dancing on the pool deck as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I saw him rally his teammates and be something larger them himself. I got to see all of that. And in watching that I realized that he fact that he shares a room with his sisters or that his mom has a different last name had no bearing what-so-ever on this day. He was successful. His life, on this day, was good. Some part of me was proud. I had given him all that he needed to be here and to be happy.
Later that night he cocked that sideways grin at me as he strutted around in his TITAN attire. I noted, “You think you are all that and a bag of chips, don’t ya?” His grin said it all. As a freshman he scored points in diving, his time placed him 4th or 5th in the backstroke out of 24 swimmers, his relay teams were in the top 5 and his team won first out of 13 swim teams. He had a right to feel strong and confident. Late that night my fella stood up, stretched and said, “All that and a bag of chips is going to bed.” My laugh made him smile that crooked grin that melts my heart. He headed upstairs but stopped half-way and said, “Thanks for being there today mom. Thanks for ALWAYS being there Mom.” My answer, “There is nowhere else I would have rather been.” It was a simple exchange but it made my heart happy. I think he was proud because he knew that here, on this day, he had done all he needed to do to make ME happy.
Sunday he and I helped at the school. It was nice to be part of something. Later, he and I had a ‘date’ to the high school sports auction. He donned khakis and a button down in preparation of being introduced, officially, as Titan swimmer and diver. He looked more grown up then I’d ever seen him. There was a brief pang of regret when it came time to tie his tie. He didn’t have anyone to show him how. For a second I was sad. But then I realized I knew how to tie a tie. I don’t know fancy or meticulous knots but I could get the job done. So I did. He put on the tie I had tied and we were ready to go. As we walked out the door he headed toward the driver’s side and I realized that he would be driving to our date. He looked like a man and he was acting like one. For once I wasn’t sad. I was proud. Later, after being introduced and being allowed to roam free with his friends a bit he found me and we headed upstairs to stand in line for the dinner being served. Some friends hailed him over as we found the end of the line. He went to join them. I got out my phone and pretended to be uber busy so as not to stand out in the lines of moms and dads waiting for dinner. A few minutes passed. “Mom…come on Mom…” I heard. I looked up and my boy was gesturing wildly for me to join him and his friends. I shook my head and indicated all the people in front of me. I am not a line breaker. “C’mon Mom. I’ve been saving this spot for you, “ wink, “no one cares.” I shook my head. “Mom…you can’t stand there by yourself. No matter how busy you are trying to look. C’mon.” The couple in front of me laughed and encouraged me to bump ahead of them. “How sweet” they remarked as I weaved in front of them. My boy gave me his crooked smile. My 15 year old son had included me with his group of friends so that I didn’t have to stand or eat alone. We got our plates and made our way down the corridor. The entire meal he joked and chatted with his friends but made sure to include me. I was touched. Most of the time he’s goofy and oblivious but not that night. That night, without me saying a word, he knew that it was hard to be alone in a sea of couples. He didn’t make it a sad moment or let it dull the day…he just took care of it.
Later that night he remarked, “Thanks for our date Mom.” Oh be still my heart. “And thanks for a great weekend. It was really good mom. Really good.” His words let me know that he too had struggled with the weekends. His life had changed too. He was disappointed and hurt and had to deal with the consequences of others decisions. I suppose I had forgotten that somewhere along the way. Something in his tone and demeanor let me know that he felt different about this weekend too. He got behind the wheel and off we went to where the girls were waiting on us.
My family doesn’t look like what I thought a family would like look. Our lives aren’t what I imagined or hoped they would be. We aren’t living like I expected. Somedays our reality isn’t easy. Sometimes I grieve for all our lives are not. But not this weekend. This weekend I didn’t have anything to be sad about. I had nothing to regret. This weekend I realized that my little family isn’t traditional. My little family isn’t the norm but it’s mine. It’s not the life we expected but we’ve managed to make it work. We haven’t just managed, on weekends like the one we just had, I realized that we’ve thrived. I’ve given my children lots of disappointments but I’ve also shown them that by being tough and strong you can overcome disappointments. I’ve made a lot of mistakes; more mistakes than I care to admit, but I’ve shown my little ones that mistakes happen but it’s how you deal with the mistakes you make that matter. We are all still a little bruised and a little tender. There are moments when we are mad and still moments when we are incredibly sad. But those moments are getting further and further apart. More and more the happy moments, the moments of contentment, are replacing the moments of woe.