It has happened.
I have become what I have been avoiding for almost 14 years. I have dodged it, squeezed out of it, boldly said no, but it has finally succumbed me. Still, I rebel and refuse to let it overcome me.
What, you ask yourself, has taken my life and made me into a crazy person? I don't even want to tell you, because writing it down makes it even more real. Okay. Here it goes. (Deep breath.) BOTH my kids are playing a sport this Spring and I, as official Chauffeur, Primary Child Carer, Chef, Dishwasher, Maid, Personal Assistant, and whatever else Moms do, am going to be run ragged.
Not what you were expecting, huh? No blood, no gore, no horrible scene that is surrounded by crime tape. There might be tears, though. Definitely tears. Maybe a little chocolate, too. Alright, a lot of chocolate.
I was not raised with the many extracurricular activities that kids today do after school. The typical graduating class at my high school consisted of about 35 kids. I don't even think my school offered such things. I did, however, live in the country, and spent this time after school in the woods. Let me set the stage. By country, I mean our house was surrounded by acres of land, much of it wooded. There are zero houses or man-made structures, roads, or cars as far as you can see. If a tree fell down in the woods, only the local wildlife would be there to hear it.
There is a path from my parents' house to my grandparents' house, that we call The Cut Across. It literally cuts across my grandparent's property to create a path from house to house. It is not unusual to see a deer, rabbit, partridge, fox, or stray cat on the way. There was always a constant sound of some bird making us kids get scared and run the entire way to fetch something for Mom or bring to Grandma.
Being scared in the country was being scared of animals, not people. We didn't lock our doors and visitors would just walk in, instead of waiting for an invite from your knock. It wouldn't be unusual to hear, "KEEP THE GREAT OUTDOORS OUTDOORS!" when one of kids came running in and forgot to shut the door.
I was once sent on an errand to get flour from Grandma Faith. I set off on The Cut Across and had just entered the totally wooded part and a sudden loud fluttering scared me so bad that I sprinted faster than I have ever ran in my entire life back to the house. (If you know me personally, I am not a runner. In fact, if you see me running, you better turn and run, too, because something is chasing me.) I told mom that something was in the woods and I was not going back. She got her shoes on and we went together. Of course, the same noise didn't happen when we got to that same area, so Mom tromped over long grass, burrs, and branches to investigate.
When the sudden noise happened again, I yelled, "There it is!" and turned to run for cover.
Only, Mom didn't move. Well, she didn't move to run. She did double over laughing. When she came up for air, she explained that partridge will not move unless they feel you are threatening their young.
"Seriously, it was a bird?" I asked. Mom laughed again and told me to go get the flour. She walked back to the house (I'm sure laughing the entire way) and I went to Grandma's for the flour, confident in my newfound knowledge.
Those stupid birds freaked me out every time, but at least these times I didn't break any running records.
In that same area of woods, my brother, Matt, and I transformed the trees around us into our home using rakes and brooms from our real home. Our house was complete with a kitchen, dinning room, and living room. We were pretending to be adults, with our own home and all, so we were passionate about cleaning it up. I mean, this wasn't our real bedrooms that were more than likely a big mess.
Dad came looking for us after a few hours and decided to offer up a solution to all the dead sticks, "Why don't you bundle those up tie them up with twine and bring them back to the house for kindling?" (We had a wood stove for heat.)
We weren't really sold, but Matt was interested because using twine might mean using some of Dad's tools so he tried to negotiate with Dad. "It would clean things up, but that's a lot of work to stack it in a pile. It's going to be hard to get the twine around when the sticks are going all which way."
Dad looked around and found two mature maple trees that were growing in a v-shape and another two in the same fashion about a foot away. He grabbed a long stick, put it in the base of the v and started adding more and more sticks. He even used the trees as leverage to snap long sticks into a more suitable length. When there was enough for a sizable bundle, Dad instructed us on how to use the twine that he just so happened to have in his pocket to secure it.
Matt tried again. "That's a lot of work, Dad. We still have to get it back to the house. I think it will be easier to just throw the sticks in another part of the woods."
Dad replied, "You could use the wagon or wheel barrow to easily bring them back."
"How about a nickel for every bundle you deliver?"
Matt and I's eyes lit up. We looked at each other, smiled, and said, "Deal!"
Cleaning the woods up was so much fun. It didn't take us long to run out of sticks in our "house" and start gathering sticks from farther and farther away. We rolling in the money, dreaming of how we were going to spend it. Dad had to stop our deal within a few days, because we quickly overtook the area he had in mind for the bundles. We were bummed, but the fun had wore off anyway. We took the money and moved on to the next adventure. Likely, we biked the 5 miles or so to the family run Bliss Store, bought candy and ice cream and ate it before we made the trek back home.
When I got older and was old enough to participate in the sport's program at the school. My parents allowed one sport. So, seventh and eighth grade basketball was my outlet. High school gave me more opportunities, and my parents allowed one sport per season. I remember my mom clearly, as we pulled up in the bus from the away game. It was always mom, never dad. She was leaned back with her chair reclined and a book on her chest as the bus swung its headlights past her car. She had obviously been waiting for a long time. I always raced from the bus to the car, knowing she would be upset if I lingered.
Mom went the extra mile for us, always having dinner ready (no matter what time) and our chores became her chores as we got busier and busier. Even other kids knew that Mom was awesome. There were many times when other friends would get off the afternoon drop-off bus with us for a quick bite to eat and ride back to practice or game with us a short time later.
I think that playing sports was a priority that my parents wanted us to have. Dad was allowed to play sports as a child, but he missed many practices to work on the family farm. Throwing bales of hay and general farm-kid activities kept him in shape and Dad was able to make it work with some very understanding coaches. Mom also lived on a family farm. There was no option to play sports, though.
I have tried to incorporate these lessons I have learned from my parents, but the truth of the matter is that the world that I was brought up in does not exist.
My kids have grown up with technology. It was in every other book and toy they owned and on every platform that they ever saw: people with phones, computers, and iPads. I'm guilty of putting a Disney movie on because I'm not feeling well and need a "babysitter" while I slept on the couch next to them. Hey, they aren't outside unattended. I'm also guilty of handing my phone over for a kid's game while I help the other try on clothes at the local store. It could be a full on meltdown and then there won't be any shopping to be had at all.
My kids have also grown up playing in our yard and woods. They both know how to take care of a garden from the seed to the weed. They have both picked raw veggies in their bare feet and eaten them then and there in the garden. They both help with making maple syrup-hauling the buckets of sap to the tractor. They both help with bringing in firewood.
It's a delicate balance that some days feel like defeat.
Now that the kids are older and we feel that they can handle more extracurricular things, we feel overwhelmed with the many duties that come with them. Where and what time are they at practice? What is for dinner and when is it? Add homework and showers to this. I am lucky that I only have two kids with one sport each. I cannot imagine having them in more than one, like many other of their classmates.
I'm going to suck it up for my kids. My parents sacrificed for us, Dad working to pay the bills and Mom being available to make our schedules work. My house may be dirtier than usual, the clothes may sit on the couch unfolded but clean, and I may be sitting in the car waiting for my kids to finish practice-but I will make it work.
I'm going to have to invest in more sunscreen and Kleenex-if not for the tears, then for the runny nose from the whipping winds that these field all have in common. And a nice chair to watch their soccer games. Maybe one of those tent things I've seen on Facebook that keeps you warm and dry. And the bags I'm going to have to carry? One for extra clothes when Northern Michigan decides to play winter or rain (because heaven knows that we play through all of that), one for extra snacks and water, one with Evan's soccer equipment, one with Alexa's, two backpacks full of their school things from the day, and who knows what else. My crockpot is going to work overtime and there may be a lot of last minute dinners of scrambled eggs or grilled cheese.
It's not going to be pretty, but it's going to work. And, just so you know, I may be sleeping in my car, or praying, (I know how to get through these things), so don't judge.
We made it through our first and busiest week. A little worn out, sunburned (Remembering to put on that sunscreen would help!), but happy. We had to let a few activities that came up last minute go, but that's okay. Bring on another week.