Michael J Fox, the actor, was asked why his family decided to have another child after his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. His response to this question has always stayed with me. To paraphrase, it was like that feeling you have when someone important hasn't shown up yet to the party. You just know that someone is missing.
That response captures my thoughts about my son. Tonight, I got to see him hang with some of his favorite people. He was determined to keep moving to avoid falling asleep and missing a moment. His presence feels so natural and part of our existence. Now, the party feels like it has really started.
Watching other parents interact with their children at soccer tots makes me think about what kind of parent I will be. Right now I feel like that decision changes daily since I am making up as I go.
I watched an active mother and father push their handsome athletic two-year-old to dribble the ball and do everything the coach said. He was a great sport, mastering the ball better than I can, but this kid had a meltdown and had to sit out for a while mid-way into the session.
I saw one father tell his son that everything was fantastic. Every attempt at kicks needed a high five. Every piece of clothing on this family matched like a catalog ad.
I saw several single moms like me try to convince their sons that they wanted to play and not be held. One boy held his mother's leg the entire time. Another boy danced by himself delighted with a sticker on his hand.
The little girls rocked it with their Pebble Flintstone's hairdos, pink running shoes and ability to do whatever their parents stated with a lovely pose for the camera. They were precious.
Then there was us - Jules who rather suck on his fist and watch others today, me trying not to stare at the other families and my dad who didn't feel well.
Soccer tots is a place where toddlers can run, play and have fun. It's an avenue where my son learns to transition from one task to another while he works out all of his energy.
So I am not going to bark at my son when he wants to hold the ball and throw it in the net. I am not going to scold him for not stopping at the red light when we play red light - green light.
I will though make sure that he is safe and that he treats others on the field with respect. When a little boy's ball rolled over to him, he wanted to play with that ball instead of his own. This is when I stay on top of him to make sure he gives it back kindly.
My son is fascinated with the coach. He watched him intently, flashed his smile whenever he gave him his attention and repeated his words back to him. "dribble dribble"
I know the day is coming that my son will play sports surrounded by kids who are better at the game than him with coaches who have specific demands. He will have to listen to that coach and try his best.
Until then, he is almost 21 months old. Right now, he may just need to nibble on a cone for a while.
My son loves both the playground and dogs. Tonight, I had to drag him away from both in one night. There is enough sand and mulch in his pockets to make another playground. And my neighbor's dogs will not stop barking which only distracts my son.
I am exhausted and happy. I am exhausted because my son was both elated and sad then elated and sad. Toddlers have huge emotions. I am also happy because my son loves so deeply.
But here's the reality I am starting to face. I am a single mother with both debt and a mortage in a small house without a fence. I can't make a dog work in our world right now.
How can I keep my son at bay while we wait for more dog friendly times?
You may not agree with what I have say next, but that's OK. I don't believe it's a parent's responsibility to dictate what is in a child's heart. My son has the responsibility of choosing his faith, career, lover and how he purses his happiness. It's my responsibility to help him learn how to take care of himself, kindness and respect. I know those words are easier to type than put in motion, but I hope to do my best.
I mention this because I saw this light go off in my son this weekend. It was like he was visiting a place he knew already and it was of all places, soccer tots.
My son is an active kid. No matter how tired he is, he whines a bit when he has to go inside. He is fearless at every playground he encounters. I wanted to find him some kind of outlet that would allow him to be active and learn new skills.
At a music festival several weeks ago, my son saw a small family kicking a soccer ball and they let him kick a few times. He loved it and for someone who just learned how to kick, he was better than I expected. So when his godmother suggested soccer tots for him, I didn't think twice.
This Saturday was the first meeting of soccer tots. It was 20 toddlers in an indoor soccer field with small soccer balls and toys. Some kids stayed close to their parents. Once my son entered the room, he felt instantly in his element. I put our stuff down and he was off.
I don't know what career or hobby pursuits my son will follow, but I could tell from that experience that my son loves to MOVE and move fast. Running from one side of the field to the other side thrilled him with delight. He did not follow directions well, but hey, he's 20 months old and some of the words he heard he does not know. Yes, he tried to eat one of the cones on the field, but hey, he's 20 months old and his teeth always ache. Of course he held the ball in his hands a lot, but hey, he's 20 months old and he does not know the rules of the game.
As a parent, it's not my responsibility to pressure my son to become a soccer star. He dictates that. I am simply the driver.
My son fought a noble fight this evening. After two hours with the babysitter and lavender bubble bath, he was ready for my tricks. Putting him to sleep is typically easy. You change his diaper, kiss his head, place him in bed, kiss his "guys" (aka Grover and company), walk out the door saying I love you and wait 30 seconds. Before you can get to the other side of the house, he is typically out cold except tonight.
Tonight he hollered, cried, begged and tried to smile his way out of bed. After an hour of my tricks, he finally caved to exhaustion.
I bring this up because of the irony.
You see, I have been fighting the good fight recently. I typically don't mind change, in fact sometimes I crave it but not so when it comes to my son. Asking me to change something major in his world against my will causes me to holler, cry, beg and even fake smile out of my situation. In the end, it doesn't work. Change happens.
Let go or be dragged. That's how the quote goes.
I learned today that my son's daycare will likely close at the end of June 2015. At least we have a timeline and 9 months to get on waiting lists. Having that time made me finally stop my hollering and realize that things will happen the way they need to happen.
I want to thank all of the mommies out there who let me holler in their ears, cry on their shoulder and beg for more options. Even my childless friends stepped up to the plate and gave me advice and made suggestions.
Tonight in Pilates as I was telling my story of pain and woe, my friend Molly said (paraphrase) that parenthood is going to bring a lot of unexpected changes when it comes to my son. If I was so upset over this one change, how in the world will I be able to handle the bigger stuff coming down the road?
Point taken. Indeed. Parenthood is a slow, emotional marathon, not a sprint. It's time to reel myself in and stop fighting this change. So I am taking my son's lead on this. It's time to put my head down, rest and let things happen as they need to happen.
I haven't posted in a while. That's because too much life is happening. I keep hoping to get to the other side of it to tell you about it but I don't think that is happening soon.
Everything that is happening and not happening for me now is quite survivable. Most Syrian refuges mothers would love to have my problems. Still, my perception of my problems at times tends to become the worst part of the experience.
It's nothing major. It's more like a thousand little bees stings happening over a short period of time. And don't take offense but some of my struggles are private saved only for close friends.
Bear in mind, I am stressed. Work typically eases up as we reach the fourth week of the semester but still am I still down staff members but the work has to continue. It has not stopped.
My son was good but he decided to cut two eye teeth during the first week of the fall semester. I was a zombie on good days waking every hour or so. He is great now eating and sleeping like the champ that he is.
Out of the blue came $900 in vet bills for my cats. Everyone is fine minus my bruised Visa card. My son had a meltdown when I took "his cat" to the vet. Once everyone came home and new carpets were purchased, the house returned to normal.
Then, I learned that my son's daycare is closing. Here is the place where my son feels most safe and happy outside of our home and we have to change. I cried liked baby the night I learned this news. Change my world, ok. Change my son's, no way.
See, all survivable. And yes there is more but I won't bore you. We are ok, just trying to find our way.