I am fascinated by big courtroom dramas when they broadcast them on tv. When I was pregnant the first time, I had a job where I worked 3-11pm just a few days a week. It left me all kinds of time to watch the O.J. Simpson trial. I will not comment on my own personal verdict, but I watched every second I could. Now that we have news networks going over the minutia of the proceedings all night long, I got to watch the Casey Anthony trial as well, as much of it that I could stomach, anyway.
When Trayvon Marton was shot by George Zimmerman, I followed it very closely. I read and posted many comments about it on social media, and my heart breaks for his family and the senselessness of it all. I even had some heartache for Mr. Zimmerman, wondering if he regretted taking a life in haste. I have been keeping up with this trial as much as I could. I have been making a bee line to my tv every night after work to catch up on what I missed, and frankly have made myself sick of Nancy Grace and the rest of HLN’s nighttime lineup. But I almost feel drawn to it. This one hits home.
It is with great sadness that I read the posts on social media, and there are far too many, that say “that punk got what he deserved”….”he was a thug/druggie/bad kid”….the derogatory comments are too numerous to remember, frankly. And when I read them, my heart aches.
Some of you might remember after the incident a lot of people were posting pictures of themselves in a hooded sweatshirt holding signs that said “I am Trayvon”. As I watch these proceedings, I will admit I have shed a lot of tears. Hearing the 9-1-1 call from the horrified female neighbor, I don’t know how anyone could not cry along with her. Listening to the fatal gunshot over and over, and watching a father testify about how he had to listen to his son’s life being taken, knowing these people must feel like they are in a level of Hell they couldn’t have dreamed up in their worst nightmares….well, words really aren’t sufficient, but again my heart aches.
But the thing that keeps me up at night? Is that my boys. Are Trayvon. My boys. Have been suspended from school. My boys. Have posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter trying to look like a badass. My boys have even been known to wear hoodies and make a snack run from time to time. The death of a young person….it’s not natural, it’s not right. It’s not the way the world is supposed to work. Something of this nature could far too easily happen to my boys or to any one of their friends. And that is terrifying.
We are supposed to outlive our parents. We are supposed to get through all these teenage years fraught with angst and misbehavior and settle in to life. College. A wife. A house. Some kids and a dog, maybe. At least that is my hope for my own two boys, that they settle in to life in the direction I’ve raised them, that they’re happy and that they’re good people. That’s really all any of us are looking for, isn’t it? To carve out our little niche in the world and enjoy it?
Trayvon will never get those opportunities. He’ll never have the chance to make it to the other side of his teen years and come out on the bright side of it. It is obvious that this young man had a good upbringing and a loving family, I have not one doubt in my mind that he would have been a productive citizen at the very least. What balance has been disturbed by the incidents of that night? What if Trayvon were cosmically slated to be the grandfather of the man or woman that cures cancer? What if Trayvon were cosmically slated to just live as an “average Joe”, but be someone’s best friend, someone’s mentor, someone’s loving husband? Whose life was Trayvon supposed to make a difference in down the line, in his 20s, 30s, 50s? Whatever his destiny was supposed to be, it has been cut short. Cut short at the hand of a human being who declared on national television that he thought what happened was “in God’s plan” and that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
And every moment of that trial I watch, and as the world waits for the jury to make their decision, I cannot help but think “What if it were my son”?
My oldest has had his problems, I’ve blogged about them. But things are really on the upswing for him, and I’ll blog about all that another time. But I absolutely cannot get the thought out of my mind that on any given night, what happened to Trayvon could happen to my son. And yours, too.
Trayvon didn’t “get what he deserved”. What he deserved was a chance. I hate it when I hear someone say this or that child is a “bad kid”. That’s the most judgmental and unfair thing a person can say. Once when some local teens died in a drunk driving accident, I got wind that an acquaintance said “Well, they were bad kids anyway”. Had she said that around me, I might have asked her why it was ok for them to die because they were a little wild. I might have asked her how she would feel in five years when her own kid got to be that age and a little out of control (and he did, get out of control….the horror! She ended up with a “BAD KID”!).
I can’t help but wonder, if it were my son…how many people in my life would say he deserved to die because he wasn’t an all-A, starting lineup, cookie-cutter future frat boy?
I have been a solo parent for seventeen years, six months, fifteen days and forty eight minutes.
Wow, I’ve never drilled it down like that. But I felt it was necessary to give some gravity to what I’m trying to say here. Sure I’ve had some help from friends and family over the years, but it’s been just me and the boys through the good, bad and ugly. It’s all I know as a parent. I barely even had to share them for holidays…maybe three times over seventeen years, six months, fifteen days and forty eight minutes.
I don’t feel different than a married mom. I don’t look different than a married mom. And I don’t love differently than a married mom. Granted, I have never walked in the shoes of a married woman, so I guess I can’t say for sure things are different for them. But some people in my life act like I have the word SINGLE tattooed on my face in bright, neon colors. They just can’t get past it. “Next holiday, bring someone with you” say my family. “Don’t you get lonely?” Ask acquaintances. “We need to hook you up with a nice guy” say friends. I know, I know, they all mean well.They are coming from a place of caring. But today, someone (a co-worker) who REALLY can’t get past my single-hood said something to me that I just don’t understand.
This woman married her Jr. High sweetheart about five minutes after graduation. 35 or so years later and they are still blissfully happy. Good for them! They are very lucky to have each other and I’m happy for her. I’ve known her for seven years, and at least three times a year she will say some crap to me that is totally inappropriate. She is very preoccupied with how often I have sex, for one thing. (Which i dont divulge…I’d have to be fucking crazy to tell her things like when I get laid). One time she even told me I better find a man soon cause my “stuff” would all “dry up” if I didn’t start using it soon. She’s not always that crass. But she also likes to tell me how every parenting decision I make is wrong. I have recently stopped confiding anything in her. Who needs that shit.
Today the subject of graduation came up. We started talking about how my oldest is now officially a senior…then I started seeing this imaginary, futuristic movie reel playing at hyper speed. It showed me senior pictures, my last trip on the mat on the arm of my eldest for parent night at a wrestling meet. It showed me his friends that we’ve known since Kindergarten that are now young men and women, prom, caps, gowns, grad night. This little movie lasted just as long as the wink of an eye. But sometimes what you see in the wink of an imaginary eye can tug at your heartstrings enough to make your real eyes fill up with tears.
Normally you’d expect that three women standing around talking about something that one is finding very emotional would give each other a knowing pat on the shoulder, and maybe you’d hear “Oh, I know, I did the same thing”. Not this crowd. Mrs. Married and Ms.Thank God I Never Had To Go Through Any Of That Sports Stuff couldn’t believe why I was emotional. Seriously, they didn’t get it. They said that they were happy for their kids to be moving on to college, and/or just growing up and giving them an empty nest. I told them that I was excited for that stuff too, but I just found it very bittersweet. Sniff sniff. Blank stares.
Then Mrs Married piped up with her solution! “I honestly and truly feel that you’re so emotional about it because you’re single!”. Um, what? Did you really just say that? Apparently she feels that my life is so wrapped up in my kids that I’m terrified of being alone when they leave and that’s why I was emotional. Sorry honey, wrong answer. Because I won’t be alone. Being the only one in the house on a cold February night with a 7 month old who’s spiking a 106 fever and you have another little one sleeping in the next room and you have to drag both of them out in knee deep snow to the emergency room, that’s alone. Being someone like my kids father who has to face the fact that he created a strained relationship with his kids and knows they have little to no respect for him because of they way he treated them, that’s alone. I’m not afraid of being “alone” in the form of an empty nest. I’ve been through way tougher shit in my life than having no mate. That’s small, small potatoes. And who knows, maybe I’ll just focus on getting my groove back when I have more free time.
This woman pities me because I’ve raised these kids on my own. It hasn’t been easy, I’m not gonna lie. But maybe I’m actually lucky for having done it. I do have to assume 100% of any blame for their not-so-great behavior when it happens, but I also get 100% of the credit for the good stuff. And I am wildly fortunate to have received 100% of the love. For seventeen years, six months, fifteen days and forty eight minutes. I know I won’t miss them when they leave, because I know my boys will never be far from me, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.
So I got emotional and a tad weepy at the thought of my child, my heart, approaching this milestone. You don’t understand why I did. I don’t understand why you didn’t.
I was talking with someone the other day who I thought was a lot like me. Single mother, teenagers, having some problems with her teens, etc etc and so on and so forth. I was telling her about how I was very upset that my youngest son wasn’t playing baseball this season because he messed up his grades. I was telling her how much I missed it and how sad I was that he cheated himself out of his Freshman season. I quickly found out we had nothing in common when this mother looked at me dead in the face and said “I’m so thankful I never had to go through any of that sports stuff with my kids”.
~Cue needle being dragged across a vinyl record~
She said “sports stuff” with the tone of voice you get when you step in dog poo. It was almost like time stood still for a minute. What? How? Why? Who ARE you?
I don’t really get where she’s coming from. If it weren’t for all this “sports stuff”, I wouldn’t feel like I had a place in my boys’ lives at all, save my duties as a maid and chauffeur. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, that’s pretty much all I feel good for some days.
My boys are 16 and 17. They are trying to figure out who they are and their place in the world. They don’t really want me around for that. They are going through the rituals and rites of passage of the American male teenager…you just don’t let your Mom tag along for that kind of stuff. My youngest got in a fight to prove himself against some kids who were pushing him around. He did it on his own. I was mortified when I found out of course, and that’s why he didn’t let me find out until later. My oldest is having some issues with girls. What would normally (normally being pre-15 years old) be something he came to me for advice on, he’s working out himself and with the help of his buds.
They don’t really want to share anything with me these days except my food and my vehicle.
But for some reason they love it that I’m involved with wrestling. When my oldest was going through a tough time recently and I thought he’d quit the team, I told him I might as well quit too. I think that was the only time I saw tears from him during what he was going through. “You can’t quit, Mom”. Which was loudly seconded by my youngest son. For several weeks.
Maybe someday when they are grown and have some distance from all the teenage angst, I’ll find out why they were ok with it when they usually didn’t want me around for anything else. I have made some amazing friends throughout the years and we have shared memories of our kids doing amazing things. My boys and I have had many, many car rides to faraway lands back and forth to their events. And every parent knows the car is the best place to talk to your kids. We have basked in the glow of their victories and I have nursed them through painful defeats.
They have learned some things about how to be a man and how not to be a man from the myriad of coaches they’ve had over the years. They’ve made great friends who they will always remember. They’ve made friends with kids from other schools, taken road trips to places they would never normally go, and learned a lot of important life lessons out there on the fields and in the gyms.
Now and always, I will treasure every soccer goal, every inning pitched, every play of their football games, every wrestling match. Every. Single. One. It’s totally worth all the work for wrestling, all the hours spent watching football and soccer and baseball in EVERY kind of weather, all the miles put on my car and all the Saturdays spent.
They do have other interests like drawing and music and long boarding, but I have to say, all this “sports stuff” has been really good to me. I can’t really imagine what our lives would have been like without it.
I really really, REALLY don’t get this. And I am kind of surprised at the fact that it actually makes me sad.
I hope this doesn’t actually happen.
I was just thankful that fall that he said he still wanted to wrestle, though there were a few times at the beginning of the season where I found myself asking him “do you even want to wrestle?’ because he wasn’t acting like it. He just didn’t seem to have the drive anymore. He wasn’t one of the guys volunteering to mop mats, wasn’t much of a leader with the younger kids, and most of all he wasn’t happy when he got home.
But he was, to his credit, not leaving every weekend to hang out with his friends. He was, to his credit, trying to un-bury himself from the horrible mess he’d made of his grades so that he could wrestle. That had to mean something, right?
He didn’t have a great season last year. He was struggling mentally, and this sport is heavy on the mental aspect. His coaches had high hopes for him, because he does have real talent, but he just kept beating himself and even though he won more than he lost, he was disappointed with himself and didn’t feel as if he fulfilled his potential. This year, his Junior year, was going to be “his year”. He has paid his dues and I know he was planning on redemption. But still, his heart wasn’t really in it.
Let me tell you, this is the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to watch. Knowing what he feels for this sport and how he feels about himself when he does it, and seeing it not bring him any happiness any more is painful. Every day I worried that today would be the day he’d just quit. And THEN where would we be? He needs this. He needs wrestling, and wrestling needs him.
Things did get worse before they took a turn for the better, and I will spare you the gory details of it, but suffice it to say that he hit “rock bottom”, hard, and I am ever grateful that he found a tiny spark of self preservation and re-thought the things he was doing and who he was doing them with before he made a mistake that couldn’t be fixed.
In the last few weeks, he’s got renewed energy for the things and people he loves, including wrestling. I credit some of that to a visit from a favorite coach from his freshman and sophomore years who has since retired, but found his way up to the wrestling room to light a spark under kids who were struggling with apathy like my son. This coach’s brand of motivation doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for my son, and it is with a tear in my eye that I say I will always be thankful to him for caring. I will always be thankful for his timing. And I will always be thankful that he took an interest in my son’s wrestling career from the first time he met him as an 8th grader at their end-of-year tournament. Always and always, thank you “Papa B”. Much love to you.
I am very much looking forward to the last few weeks of this season. We’ve got team and individual districts in a couple of weeks. It should be a great time, and regardless of his individual outcome in the end of year matchups for districts and beyond, I will be happy just to be there for it, proud and with a smile on my face that he is where he should be.
I love this boy to the moon and back, and I will do whatever it takes, within my means as an opposite-sex parent, to help him on his journey into manhood. Sometimes that means letting him fail, sometimes it means propping him up, and sometimes it means just being there and being a quiet presence in his life. I know that kids try some very stupid things in their quest to define who they really are and what their place in the world is.
But he doesn’t know what I already know. He doesn’t remember being the 4 year old who stopped what he was doing once on a Christmas Eve night, as we were walking out the door from a busy Christmas with my family to tell me “Momma? You’re the prayer of my heart”.
He doesn’t know that I witnessed one of the most selfless acts in recent memory and he was the one performing it, when he hid a birthday card he received in the mail from his father. He hid it and didn’t want to open it, because his father had forgotten his brother’s birthday six months before, and he didn’t want his brother to have hurt feelings that Dad remembered one of them and not the other.
He doesn’t know that I know he is that rare hard working teenager who when given a job, is one of the more impressive workers I’ve ever known.
He also might not know that the things he’s learning from wrestling will stay with him. Care about other people, teach them what you know and learn from them too, and help a guy up once in a while. Work hard. Make no excuses. Be proud but humble. When you get knocked down, get up and go harder, when you are fighting for what’s right.
He might not know these things right now, but it is my hope that someday he will understand and remember them. They are the very core of who he is, not missteps and skipped classes and the wrong group of friends.
Today my son was one of 8 conference champs on our team, who also took the conference championship. I haven’t seen him this excited in a very long time. I haven’t seen him this proud of himself in an even longer time. His journey has both been completed and is just beginning, if it can be both. He might be 112 lbs, but to me today, seeing him take this journey, and come out on the good side of it, my son is ten feet tall. Love you so much, kiddo.
I have decided to break this little narrative up into a few posts, because it’s been a year since my last post, and I have a lot to say.
Ok, so I haven’t been the most active blogger out there. I love writing, I find it very therapeutic. And I have really missed logging on and writing something about this element of my life, the little gem tucked away from November to March that I cherish for so many reasons. Being that the season is now in full swing, quite often something will happen and I’ll think to myself “that’d make a great blog post”, or “I really need to stop neglecting my little blog”…but the truth of the matter is, I have been avoiding it.
My oldest son is now 17. Last summer he went a little wild, became defiant and disobedient as so many teens do. He’d text me at work and tell me he was going to hang out with his friends, and I wouldn’t see or hear from him for days. He’d come home and we’d fight. Then he’d leave again. It tore me up like nothing else has in my time as his parent. This is the kid who would leave his video game and interrupt my book and sit on my bed with me for some “mother/son time”, as he called it, to talk about big life issues, or nothing in particular. This was the kid who told me all the time “You’re so smart Mom, you just know things”, and thanked me so many times for being able to talk to me about stuff. This was the kid who, when his neighborhood friends started smoking and drinking at 13 years old, removed himself from those relationships because he didn’t want to be a part of it. I’m sure it’s a surprise to every parent when their child goes through something like this, but I was just….. at a loss.
Thankfully the one thing he did still enjoy and want to participate in that I could support, was wrestling. He went to two camps over the summer, and even his friends couldn’t talk him out of them. One of the camps was one I helped chaperone, and we drove six hours north with 10 wrestlers and 3 moms for 4 days and we had a great time. Both camps were physically exhausting. Knowing that’s when he feels at his best, when he’s physically exhausted from a good wrestling workout, I was relieved. Sounds a little odd for me to say I was relieved, but I knew he was emotionally grounded after that and I was hopeful that he’d magically once again start to resemble the child I missed so much.
It didn’t happen that way. He went right back to finding other places to live for several days at a time and then when school started, being gone for the whole weekend. Nothing I said or did was effective at changing this behavior, and trust me, I tried everything I have in my parental arsenal, and then some. I knew he was up to no good when he wasn’t here, because I know what the kids he hung out with were involved with. I felt helpless. You can ground a kid all day long, take everything he owns but the clothes on his back, but at the end of the day you truly cannot control someone else’s behavior. They do what they want.
I got a call from the school that he was over the allowed amount of absences in one of his classes. I had no idea, but he was skipping his first class after lunch at the beginning of the year. His “best friend” got expelled for selling drugs. Finally, even though I had my suspicions, I now had some semblance of proof as to what the root cause of this all was. All of this information couldn’t have culminated at a better time, because wrestling season started about two weeks later. I knew that regardless of all of the lecturing and threatening and punishing and crying and yes, guilt-tripping I did, that wrestling would be the thing to pull him out.
Continued in Part II
There was like a bad moon over the place or something. Seriously, mass hysteria maybe. Collective Asshole-ish-ness At Team Tournament the headline would read, if anyone wrote a headline.
Round One. I missed half of the first round because of poor planning on my part and really shitty weather. I literally walked into the gym as my son was starting his first match, and watched from matside my son get pinned. I was also really bummed out to find out that I missed one of our boys achieve his 150th career win.
I found my place in the stands. Not in the protective hive of our own fans, but on the fringe (A result of my late arrival….it brings back memories of walking into church late and having to sit in the front pew with the other people who don’t care enough about church to get there on time). Luckily I found a couple of other fringers to sit behind. Unluckily, as it turned out, behind me were the parents from the other team we were wrestling in the next match. At so it began.
I have sat behind and next to fans from other teams for four years. It’s usually ok. The fans, in keeping with the conduct of the sport, are generally congenial and respectful, but not this group.
For round two, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a gentleman who complained about the officiating during every single match. Complain, complain, complain. Bitch, bitch, bitch. The final straw for me was when my own son was out there getting choked out illegally by one of their kids and he complained about the “hometown ref” that wasn’t awarding the choker a pin (when a pin was not had). I was starting to fear my own Mama Bear reaction if I were to turn around and tell the gentleman off, so I just moved to avoid a riot in the stands.
Round three was ok, as we were wrestling a team that had a painfully low number of kids and instead of bitch, bitch, bitch, it was void, void, void. Sad, but short and sweet. I didn’t even see any parents there. I never do for that team, so I did the usual and applauded all of their kids just so they would hear some applause when they won. Poor fellas.
Round three. Similar to round two, but multiplied by the fact that it was a home tournament for them, and they had quadruple the fans round two had. How embarrassing for their school that these people act like such rude idiots. I won’t get into details, but their fans are the perfect example of how NOT to behave. Later in the day, two of these Moms actually yelled at our coach to get out of the way. “Can’t you see we’re trying to watch a wrestling match?” *Facepalm*
Maybe it was me. Maybe the moron who brought the cowbell to an indoor function and incessantly rang it was getting on my nerves. Maybe the fact that one of our own kids had an embarrassing fit of temper had me edgy. I don’t know. I’ve never seen our coach have to deal with something like that, but he asked him to shower and finish the day as a spectator. It’s too bad, we really could have used him when round five got even uglier. I fully support his decision. I would have made him sit out too. Except I would have thrown in a Mom Look when I sent him to the showers. It was too crowded to see if coach did that, and I don’t even know if people with low estrogen can pull it off, but I kind of hope he tried. I think the icing on the cake though, was that some total waste of brain cells left his dog in the car all day.
Round five. What a great, competitive matchup. We led by two pins for most of it. Then they started voiding us in the middle weights. They were from the other side of the state, a team we’ve never seen before, but they must have had some spies eyeballing us during other matches, because they knew where we were strong and where they were not, and vice versa. I have to admit, it was a brilliant strategy. We tied. How do they break a tie during a team tournament, you ask? They review the stats and add up reversals, back points, pins, and voids. Or something like that. At any rate, one key void on our own part was what set them ahead by eight tenths of a point. It was a nail biter and a heartbreaker. We took fourth.
I was just glad it was over. No amount of “great job today’s” can cheer a kid up sometimes. You can’t convince some of the new parents that this was truly a victory and something to be proud of. So, you just pack it up, head home, make dinner for your family, and try to put it behind you.
It has been said that wrestling is 20% physical, 80% mental. I can see that.
How do you teach a kid not to beat himself? I will use my son as the example for this post, but trust me, I saw it happening at dozens of matches all day long last weekend.
Kid looks to be more physically developed than opponent.
Match starts and kid also proves to be more skilled than opponent.
Kid manhandles opponent for two periods, and is winning by a spread of 13 points.
Opponent throws a move that kid wasn’t prepared for, kid takes a minute to recover.
Opponent throws same or similar move, because he figured out it worked.
Something happens to kid and the crowd sees a visible change. Kid starts looking like it’s his first day on the mat and gives up point after point.
Kid lets opponent catch up to and beat him at the buzzer by one point, or in some cases gods forbid, gets pinned.
What. Just. Happened?
I don’t get it. Kid doesn’t get it. Coach doesn’t get it for sure.
Why both of the coaches came up to me, the Mom, afterward and asked me what happened….I don’t know. My job is to love and nurture and clap and blurt out things that don’t make sense. My job is not to analyze. My son is 16 years old now, I haven’t known what was in his head for at least 4 years. And if I try to get in there, he more often than not shows me the proverbial door.
I try not to dwell on it, but I ask him to read an article I found on the internet about sports psychology and the High School wrestler. He reads it, but he probably thinks it sounds like a bunch of baloney. What 16 year old wants to learn how to breathe meditatively and visualize and all that psychobabble la-la? (I hope mine does, because I think there’s a lot of truth to it and he might find it helpful…….but yeah. Not holding my breath).
If anyone knows the answer to what happens in a kid’s head at the moment he decides he’s beat and how to turn it around, please email me. Because this is one of the hardest parts of it to watch, and I am sick of watching it.
Did the memory of the brackets flash in his mind, where he saw that his opponent pinned his last kid in 42 seconds? Did the name of the school on the singlet intimidate him once he realized the kid could actually throw a move on him? Did he forget to breathe on the bottom like he is famous for doing and get dizzy? All of the above? Or is it something else?
I know the nature of the sport is someone has got to lose, but when a kid should not be the one losing, it’s just …… not cool.
I’m ok with watching my kids lose with dignity to an opponent who truly beat them with skill and strength.
But I am not ok with watching them lose to themselves.
And it’s so hard not knowing how to help them.
You left me a solo parent when our boys were 2 months old and 17 months old, respectively. Not a single parent who can rely on the other person to help with things like transportation, homework, sports participation fees and school clothes, but a solo parent who has to rely on friends, family, and most of all herself. For everything. EVERY. THING. It’s not like you dropped entirely off the face of the earth….there were the two or three months-at-a-time stints you tried to see your boys once a month or so for a couple of hours, sometimes even an overnight visit over the last 16 years. They were mainly uncomfortable for both your sons and you, but it was a small attempt. Then there was the three years you “connected” with them that ended just about a year ago, if you call connecting with them leaving them with your girlfriend’s kid to roam the streets and sit home alone unsupervised while you went out drinking. I guess they weren’t truly unsupervised, because they called me all weekend, every weekend, while you were busy. But three years of that does not make up for you making plans with them one day and them arriving at your house excited for a fun weekend with Dad, only to find an abandoned house and a new life with no Dad for the next four years, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that it does.
For me to write about the trials the boys and I have gone through over the years due to your selfishness and absolute inability to be in any way connected with reality would take weeks. You will never know how terrifying it is to face the prospect of raising two boys all on your own. (Seems kind of silly for me to point out the obvious…of course you’ll never know it, you walked away from it). The days when they were simultaneously in diapers, sleeping in cribs, and drinking from bottles are far behind me now, but I’ll never forget them. The fears of those days were a little more basic. We’ve moved on now to more philosophical issues. Am I doing the right things to teach them how to be good husbands? Good fathers? Good citizens? How am I going to teach them how to shave and clean a fish and tie a tie? (Thank God for Youtube, we got the fish cleaning and tie tying down).
Then there is the deep stuff, that I try to keep a little close to the surface with them, but not so close as to basically ruin every fucking day for them. Things like “Don’t let his behavior define who YOU are”, and “I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s got nothing to do with you”. They listen, but it’s hard for me to tell if they believe me when I tell them that they really do deserve so much more than you’ve offered them. My biggest fear, and something I spend time every day on, is attempting to block the self-defeating behaviors that so often happen with kids who are abandoned or unloved by a parent. If they don’t deal with the issues they have with you now, the issues will kick their asses when they leave my home for the first time, or maybe when they find themselves as fathers.
I did everything I could to foster a relationship for the three of you. Remember how I used to nearly beg you to see them? I rarely said a bad word about you, though I have many. I never kept them from seeing you, though that’s what everyone now thinks because you aren’t man enough to tell the truth. I did my job and your job all these years, and have a few more to go yet. I overcompensate because I have to, so they have a chance at an emotionally normal adulthood.
Oh, I’m sorry, do I sound bitter? You bet your damn ass I’m bitter.
I don’t let it consume me, that would be giving you entirely too much power (another lesson I try to teach them). But wrestling season has started. You might remember that you were the reason they both started wrestling. Our oldest because it pleased you, and our youngest because he thought that maybe you’d come watch him like you did with his brother (which didn’t happen). I told them both that if you were the reason they were doing it, it was the wrong reason, but they didn’t listen and now it has taken on a life of its’ own in our house. I’m thankful for that, because it has opened new doors for them physically and mentally. It gives them a sense of balance that they are lacking with your repeated absences over the years. It will serve them well, if they leave you out of it. But they haven’t left you out of it, at least not yet.
Our oldest son received his copy of the team photo the other day. He looks amazing. He’s matured and he’s chiseled. He’s been working hard and is going to go very far this year. That night, he broke down sobbing because he misses you. He wants you to see him wrestle this year.
I do what I can to be supportive of their wrestling, and the minute I think I couldn’t be more excited about it for them, a new day happens and I’m more excited about it for them. But I’m a Mom. I’m not a male. I never wrestled. I never went to State. And these boys didn’t start this sport because of me. Or even because of themselves. They did it for you.
And all they have in return from you, after giving their unconditional love and desperately seeking your approval, are homemade birthday cards from jail with a few words trying to manipulate them into worrying about you or writing you back. Well guess what? They don’t know what to say to you. They are too busy trying to live their own lives and trying to make sense of this unfair bullshit to worry about you right now. They are not little anymore. They see right through you and that’s something you can’t handle. A part of me thinks they are not writing you back to spare your feelings. But don’t insult their intelligence by thinking they don’t know what you’re all about now. That must really suck.
Your son went 5-0 at Varsity at his first tournament yesterday. Your son is starting to get his name in the paper.
His name. Not yours.