Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bad mom or good brother?

My oldest is now grown up. Technically. Physically. Legally. He turned 18 in May. He's a full grown adult. And he's easing into the adult world. He's driving. He's going to school. He's working three different jobs. He's pretty responsible and I'm pretty proud.

So, last week he mentioned that there was a wrestling event he wanted to go to. It was at Allstate Arena, a huge indoor venue about an hour from home. The buddies he invited to go were either working that night, broke or not into wrestling. Wrestling is just not my thing. In fact, I have never approved of the kids watching it. It wasn't until my oldest was a teenager that I allowed it to be viewed on our television. I was just against the whole concept. I don't like violence. I don't like seeing people hurt people intentionally. You should see how I squirm at watching football and hockey. And in those sports there is really another purpose, but the roughness is just something that goes along with it. When it comes to wrestling and boxing, where the entire goal is to hurt the opponent, I just can't take it. That's the mom in me I suppose. Throw in that there's a ton of drama, some questionable language and some scantily clad females and it's no wonder I have always been opposed to it. But then I saw movies with the Rock and John Cena and heard about so much charity work some of the WWE wrestlers do and concluded that they weren't all that bad after all. There could be worse things they could enjoy than watching wrestling.

I finally gave in and allowed it on the television in our house. Now it's become a bonding thing for my oldest and my youngest, who is only 7. On Monday nights and Friday nights, when WWE is televised live, they are joined together on the sofa, cuddling and snacking together. The other boys like to watch it, too, on occassion, but my 18-year-old and his youngest brother can always be found side by side when it's on TV. So, when my oldest didn't have anyone to accompany him to this WWE SmackDown event, he asked if he could take his little brother. My initial thought was "absolutely not." Who lets a 7-year-old go to an event like that? But, I quickly realized how much it would mean to the two of them to go together. My oldest offered to pay for his ticket and keep him close to his side throughout the night. My youngest begged to go. I gave in. I felt like I was being a terrible mom for letting him go (I should also add that it was on a school night, which makes it even worse.)

That evening while they were gone, I tuned in for a minute to see what was being shown. Bad idea. It was two females wrestling. I had this awful, "What have I done?" thought running through my head. They got home that night. Both had huge smiles on their faces. They had a great time. And they had a great time because they were together.

After the event, I conveyed to a friend (who happens to be a big WWE fan), that I thought I made a bad decision in letting them go, especially when I turned on the television to see two barely dressed women wrestling as the crowd cheered them on. She said just what I needed to hear, "That's not what he'll remember about going. He'll remember being with his big brother." I clearly won't be up for Mother of the Year, but I realized she was right. When he looks back years down the road, he won't remember what the women were wearing or who defeated who. He'll remember that he had a great big brother who took him along.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer is complete

Well, there are only a few more days before summer is officially over -- technically over. It's past Labor Day now and all the kids are back in school, so most people already consider it be be Fall. I made a big, long summer bucket list. I wanted to do at least half of the items on the list. I did. And in late summer I tweaked it and took off some that I realized I really didn't want to do all that much. For example, I had a couple splash pads on the list, but I realized that my kids are really beyond that now. My youngest turned 7 in April. They enjoy water parks much more. So, I removed those. In the end, I did 28 out of 44 on the list. Several were done multiple times, like trips to the library, Cubs games, kite flying and going out for ice cream. There were some I really wanted to do, but didn't accomplish - like fishing, camping and attending a county fair, but it was a nice summer filled with fun. And I'll plan differently next year to make sure I fit in more of what everyone wants to do. And...there are still a few days of summer left. It's not too late.

One thing I didn't put on the list, but that I have to do at least once each summer is attend a concert. My favorite venue is First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. You'd think that it would be something I'd want to enjoy with a group of my peers, but some of the most memorable concerts I've been to were with my dad or my former co-worker and buddy, Fran, who has a few years on my dad. I've also really started to enjoy concerts with the younger set - my sons and nephews. The past couple years I took them to see Bon Jovi at Soldier Field and Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field. After years and years of protest, a couple of my boys have finally warmed up to country music, so I was happy to hear my oldest son say he'd like to go to a country concert at First Midwest Band Amphitheater. We planned to go see Jason Aldean, but it had sold out, so we got tickets to go see Toby Keith. I've seen Toby live at that venue below and he always puts on a great show. So, my oldest son and I went off to the concert. I knew my son, who turned 18 in May, would love the patriotic theme that seems to run through his shows.

There are always the kinks or the drawbacks of live shows...we parked in an unfamiliar lot and walked way farther than usual, then had a long walk to find the will-call window, a light fog of marijuana smoke lingered, end of the aisle seats that had us getting up every two minutes to let someone out of the row AND a four-song delay for the bathrooms that had me hearing Red Solo Cup being sang by a chorus of intoxicated women in bathroom stalls over the band.

Then the upside...the weather was absolutely beautiful! There is nothing like standing in the pavilion watching the sun go down while a light breeze blows by and live country music is being played just steps away. And it was a fun evening with my son. During the many pro-American, pro-troops songs, the crowd went wild. Several military guys in uniform joined him on stage. (*A side note: at this time last year, my son was talking with a recruiter and thinking of enlisting in the Marines.)

After the show, we were walking through the aisles and came upon a guy in full fatigues. My son (who is often pretty quiet, reserved and shy) looked and him, and confidently said "Thank you." There may have even been a sir on the end of it. The guy responded with "Thanks a lot man," and when my son extended his hand to shake, the guy grabbed his hand and shaked it, then gave him a big bear hug. Made mama proud to see that.

So, summer is almost over and now complete. What is one thing you have to do each summer?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Looking up

We all know what today is. I always, ALWAYS spend time reflecting on this date...usually watching the remembrance service at Ground Zero. I cry a lot. I feel for those families who lost loved ones. I didn't know anyone there. I have never even been to New York. But as an American I feel it and as the wife of a firefighter, I feel it. I won't go into a lengthy post. I'll just say that today is a Tuesday. 9/11/01 was on a Tuesday. It's a beautiful, clear late summer day, just like it was then. And I see so much when I look up. An empty sky...and remember the empty skies in the days following 9/11. A sky that is blue and beautiful and covers us all, in every town in every nation in this world - people of all kinds. A hope that a new day lies ahead and that we are fortunate to have that gift and that we have a duty to embrace it. And I kind of see the souls off all those innocent people looking down who left that day...watching over.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Almost here!

Last May I had an awesome opportunity to do a reading in the NWI production of Listen To Your Mother at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso. I felt so fortunate to be part of the cast of amazing women, which ranged from a pediatrician to a mom of triplets to an adoptive mom to a single daughter. It was such a diverse group, but we seemed to all blend well and all hit it off great. 

The other day this arrived in the mail - it's a commemorative book that includes all 10 cities where Listen To Your Mother took place on or around Mother's Day. It really made me smile. And then I smiled even more when I got an e-mail that videos went up last week from 5 of the cities and the rest will be up this week! I am looking forward to watching the whole thing all over again. In the meantime, here's the link to LTYM's YouTube Channel - if you'd like to take a peek at some of the shows.

What are little boys made of?

Remember this rhyme? For some reason, I thought there was something about toads in it...but I see it is SNAILS, not toads. 

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

Anyway, I snapped these pics of my 9-year-old and the toad he found - that I swear sounded like a squeaky toy. It kept making these very loud chirping sounds. I guess he was trying to round up the troops to rescue him. My son let him go in the garden soon after finding him. They've found dozens of toads in the backyard, but I've never ever heard on like this one.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ok, I'll say it

Ok, I know I may face some criticism here, but I'm going to just say something. Something you might think, but you're not supposed to say out loud. I wanted a girl. I wanted boys, too. Actually, I always envisioned my family being complete with four - two boys and two girls. But, God had other plans. Those plans were for five boys - and no girls. And it really is a lovely, blessed and rowdy life.

Just because I'm admitting I wanted a girl, doesn't in any way lesson the tremendous love I feel for these darling little boys I brought into the world, it just means that once in a while I wish I had a daughter, too. Like yesterday when I was shopping. I was in the Fashion Bug dressing room and in walked a mom and daughter. They were giggling. They were trying on clothes and critiquing each other. They were making lunch plans. It has only happened a handful of times, but once in a while, when I see and hear a mother/daughter duo like that, I just get this pang - don't know how to describe it - I guess I just kind of feel cheated.

As a girl, I always looked forward to having a little girl of my own, who would grow to a big girl who I could go shopping with. Who would be the things I wasn't. And then I feel incredibly guilty for longing for that when I consider all that I have. I have so much and I feel terrible for missing what I don't have, even for a couple minutes in the dressing room of a clothing store. One day, I'll have a daughter-in-law and I hope we'll be close - and go shopping together and I'll have more than I ever wanted.

Just as I left the store, my husband sent a text that he and the boys were outside in the back yard while I was gone - catching a toad, spending time in the garage, using tools and making things with wood. For those few moments I was feeling pity and wishing I had a daughter - I want so much more for my husband to have that with his sons. Then another text  from my husband came at just the right time. "My money says they'll remember this day in 20 years." And of course, I sat in my car and sobbed. I have so many gifts, even if I don't have a shopping buddy. :)