So which team am I going to cheer for?

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” – Vince Lombardi

Fall. Sunny days and cool, crisp evenings. Football weather. The chance to reconnect with  friends at the stadium. Hoodies printed up with team logos, marching bands, brats grilling, whistles blowing – Friday nights under lights across the U.S.

Memories flooding. Some folks may feel torn. Some may be ambivalent. Some, like me, find the irony a bit comical.

High school, and once again for me, it is a bit awkward. Why? Because, should I decide to go to the game, who will I cheer for?

This week’s football game is an “us versus them.” Only for me, “us” is my kids’ high school football team going up against my old high school, who is now “them.”

If I let it, it could prove to be quite a dilemma. The school that helped shape me, that educated me, that housed friendships and memories.

My past.

Days of teenage angst; feeling like I didn’t fit in. The square peg in the round hole. The one who didn’t measure up against my peers…

I haven’t been to that football field since I graduated. But since then, I have met up with some classmates I graduated with, and we have had a great time together at each gathering. Life has beat us all up, and we’ve dealt with stuff we would have never dreamed of when we graduated and parted ways some 30-plus years ago: deaths, deployments, divorces, downsizing… none of us unscathed by life.

But it makes for better friendships and deeper conversations than it did back when we were teens.

I would love to root for my old alma mater.

But I can’t. It is the past.

I am in the present.

In the here and now, I have to cheer on my new home team, which boasts of some pretty good guys. The young men who, I swear just yesterday, were about half the size they are now, goofing off and eating pizza in a classroom party I helped host.

Some of these young men have been over to shoot hoops in my driveway. A few of them were here to help with a science fair project that consisted of putting Mentos into diet soda in anticipation of pop shooting all over the sidewalk. (They weren’t disappointed.) Some of these young men were loud boys who needed to be reminded to be quiet at 2 a.m., because, yes – even in the summer – parents have to work. One of these young players has a good throwing arm in part because he and my son tossed bricks to each other to practice (until I shrieked for them to stop!) Many of the guys on the team have grown up with my son; they are some of his closest friends, and their parents are now among my some of my dearest friends.

I will cheer for my new home team because it boasts of a lot of young men I have watched grow and mature over the years.

I will cheer for my new home team because it is the team my son cheers for.

I will cheer for my new home team because my youngest daughter, a JV cheerleader, will be there, rain or shine, sleet or snow, for her home team.

I will cheer for my new home team because each week they bring the hope of a win, a reason to gather, a sense of community.

While I am not forgetting my past, I am putting it behind me where it belongs, while enjoying the present.

To my new home team, and to your young fans, I cheer for your future. I hope that the bonds you make today with your friends continue to grow deeper with time. When you part ways at graduation, I hope you stay in contact with each other. When life beats you up and you have mud on your face and you’re up against hardships that you never knew were possible, I hope that you will find yourself grounded and firm because of your home team.

When you graduate from college or trade school and have a family of your own, I hope the values you learned growing up in this town stay with you. That you welcome a yard full of kids, running, swimming, shooting hoops, squirting each other with hose. (But for Heaven’s sake, please don’t let them toss bricks!)

And after a few years, maybe even a few decades, when you meet up with your classmates, I hope you will find that your friendships are stronger and your conversations are better.

And if you find yourself in an awkward spot on a Friday night, please know that it is okay to cheer a new home team.

Even if it feels a bit odd.

The new home team will appreciate it, and the old one will understand.

Trust me on this.

© 2012  – Lynne Cobb

Newsflash – Batman is a senior

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was three-years-old, donning a costume and zipping around our house as the cutest caped-crusader ever?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that our neighborhood street was safe, all thanks to him, cruising up and down the sidewalk in his very own, battery-powered Batmobile? (Undoubtedly the very best gift Santa brought him. Ever.)

Wasn’t it just last Halloween when I asked, “What do you want to wear for trick-or-treat?”

Wasn’t it just this last birthday that he requested a special cake?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that it didn’t matter whether we were choosing a birthday theme, a gift for a friend, a Halloween costume or a Christmas gift, his answer was always the same, year after year after year:

Batman.

Wasn’t it  just yesterday that my little boy was Batman, wearing his cape everywhere? To preschool. To the grocery store. To his grandparents’ house. (But not to church. He had a polo-style shirt with a Batman logo embroidered on for those special occasions.)This little superhero had more Batman-themed clothing, toys and accessories than one could ever imagine.

Wasn’t it just yesterday, that I’d iron out the wrinkles in his overly worn cape, making sure it was perfect for the fall costume parades at school?

So how did it happen that today I was pressing a dress shirt and freshening a tie for his senior pictures? And when did he become old enough to drive off in my car, not his Batmobile?

Because somehow, some way, time flew by and Batman is now a senior in high school.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he entered kindergarten, and his oldest sister graduated from high school?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he played in the sandbox with his older brother, making roads and rivers and forests with mud water and tree branches?

Wasn’t it just yesterday he watched cartoons with his baby sister as they drank apple juice from sippy cups?

Oh Batman, how I miss you. But I am so proud of the young man you have become. Go forth, my son. The world is at your feet. Be respectful. Be kind to others. Be empathetic and sympathetic. Pray daily. Never take those you love for granted. Work hard, to the glory of God. Always do your best, especially when no one is looking. Give generously of yourself and of your gifts.

When the world seems harsh and knocks you down, get up, brush it off, keep going and remember that you are loved.

And if all else fails, just quietly whisper to yourself of something you’ve always known…

“I’m Batman.”

Love, Mom

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

 

Dressing rooms, blue jeans and a midlife crisis

I have been accused of being “too picky.” Personally, I prefer “selective.” A perfectionist? Maybe.

That could be why I detest shopping for clothes.

Especially blue jeans.

I can’t seem to find the perfect jeans, which is why when I find an acceptable pair, I wear them over and over. Honestly, I could just kick myself for not buying several pairs of the acceptable jeans, because they became my Favorite Pair – and now they are way beyond fixing. Not too long ago, and totally pushing my luck, I did indeed wear Favorite Pair to the store. Just a quick dash in and out, I told myself. But then, I ran a few more errands. And, when I got home, to my horror, I noticed that somewhere along the way, the patch that held my jeans together fell off.

Yikes! I’m not sure I want to know how many people saw the gaping hole in my jeans. I am not a teenager anymore.

But I digress.

Knowing that this search and try-on process is going to take me to where I don’t go mentally, I decided to arm myself for battle, and make things easier by wearing my awesome, comfy yoga pants instead of my back-up pair of jeans, which I don’t care much for. Plus, they were in the laundry pile, since they have been overused with the demise of Favorite Pair.

Ah, my yoga pants. I use them for exercising and as my errand-running back-ups. And, well, when I realized Favorite Pair was probably going to become further worn-out with household chores, I started wearing my comfy black yoga paints. To clean. With bleach.

Thank goodness that a black Sharpie marker covered my mistake.

Anyhow, back to the hunt.

I dug through piles of denim, like a dog digging for a bone. My favorite style of jeans has to be here, I thought to myself, as panic set in.

Nope. My favorite style is gone. History.

Which meant finding a replacement.

Great. I became overwhelmed at all the choices, but marveled at all the fashionable opportunities available. Why, with a little luck, maybe even I could look like that mannequin!

So, as with any change, I embraced a new look with an air of excitement and a bit of apprehension, plus two sizes of style of jeans, because, Lord only knows which clothing manufacturer’s styles and sizes are going to fit. I dashed off to the changing rooms, with anticipation of my new look.

After the first few attempts, I started to get worried. Nothing fit. So, accepting that I probably gained a little weight – though Favorite Pair never let me know that – I started looking at other sizes. And other brands.

No luck.

Getting frustrated, I literally wanted to cry. In a sea of clothing, I was drowning in waves of panic. Nothing fit ME. Negative thoughts started popping into my brain, like the clothing manufacturers having a “thing” against me and women my age. The dream of looking like the mannequin – gone, just like the youthful body I once had. I felt old and washed up – as if I couldn’t do anything right. Negativity was oozing out of every pore, and I started thinking of all my failures, especially my chosen career path. How could I have known that my favorite industry would change, and be replaced with a cool, new style that, no matter how hard I tried, I just had the hardest time getting a good fit? Like my faded old blue jeans, I guess I miss my “faded” old career.

Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes. So, this is midlife, huh? Well, the fighter in me came out, and had a smack down with my toxic emotions. And I got back into the ring.

Yes, I was getting older, and my body was changing – that’s life. Yes, there has been some serious grief and loss and change in the past few years, but there has also been great growth and love and joy. There are going to be frustrations – that’s life, and that’s not going to change. And it is a good life, so keep moving along.

Wiping my tears, I stepped out of the changing room and put the all of jeans that didn’t fit on the “don’t want” rack. Seriously, I had tried on at least 16 pairs of jeans. I apologized to the woman who had to restock them. She smiled and said “No problem.” I think she saw the mascara smudges from my tears.

“There is a perfect pair for you out there,” she said, and pointed me in another direction. “Just keep looking.”

She was right. Not just about finding the jeans, but by reminding me to never give up.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

You can’t be my friend – ever, ever, ever!

Do you remember these quotable quotes?

“I don’t like you. You’re just mean.”

“I’m not gonna be your friend anymore, so THERE!” (said with tone, and then sticks tongue out.)

The sweet sounds of playground banter.  A broken Barbie. A foul erroneously called a strike. Not getting to wear the princess gown first. Someone stealing a Hot Wheel car… So many reasons to break up a friendship – at least for a day or two.

What I loved about that time, though, is that once hot tempers cooled, a wise parent, or, something even better – a wise friend who felt stuck in the middle – would remind us that we really didn’t want to end a friendship over such trivial matters. We patched things up, shook hands or pinky-promised never to hate each other again.

Oh sure, once we hit junior high/middle school, the hating started again. Sometimes it was trivial, and sometimes it was downright vicious. Sometimes friendships ended – for good.

Once in a blue moon, someone changed, and the friendship was re-kindled in high school or college. But one fact remains, especially for my age bracket: after graduation, we didn’t have a lot of contact with our classmates, sans the occasional reunion.

Until Facebook came along.

All of a sudden, people we didn’t even acknowledge in the halls or on the playground became our new online friends. And the passing of time was good – it healed wounds as we grew up. We could see everyone’s kids, commiserate over lost jobs and life’s curveballs. We felt like we had come home. We connected.

But then, polarization started. People started getting mean. Political, religious and social rants appeared, and some postings were not so nice. Apparently, folks didn’t like how their friends changed through the years. Snide comments began to appear – basically, if you don’t like someone’s views, they are wrong, or dumb, or hosting their own pity party, or whatever.

And then, you get un-friended.

Wow. Just like when we were little kids. Only this time, it’s worse, because we should be the wise ones. We should be leading by example.

But we don’t. We don’t enjoy a good, hearty debate. We don’t agree to disagree. We decided that a friend is not a friend it they don’t agree with us.

That is not such a great teaching moment for our kids, is it? We’re basically saying that if someone doesn’t agree with us that they have no worth. Lord, have mercy if that’s our message.

At this point in my life, I am pretty secure with me. My personal journey got me here, shaping and molding my values, my beliefs, my views.  So, if you don’t like what I say or what I believe in, then un-friend me. I honestly don’t care. But quit making blanket statements about people in general. Don’t lump me into a group and call me stupid. And don’t insult me or call me foolish or feel that I am less intelligent than you. Because I am not.

I am just different from you.

And if you don’t like it, then just take your stupid toys and your arrogantly superior attitude and go home.

Because  I have other friends who love me for me, who don’t care what I believe, because they know it is all part of the yarn that knits me together – making me, me.

So THERE! (said with tone, and then sticks tongue out.)

Patience – it’s really not my virtue

My lack of patience must be genetic or something, because there is no real clear reason for it. It is such a character flaw, that it has to be inherited. Certainly someone in my family tree coined the phrases, “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?”

Oh sure, I can wait for bread dough to rise. I can sort of wait for the first layer of paint to dry. A wet floor – sure, I can wait – especially if I am the one who mopped it. Waiting on a robust cup of coffee – no problem. I’ll even patiently wait for a good cup of tea to steep.

But sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office – not so much.

Normally, I have my knitting with me, a dual project of trying to keep my nerves calm and to get lost in time. But seriously, you can’t really knit when you are constantly interrupted.

“May I see your insurance card?”

“Ma’am, can you sign this?”

Not only do I have to sit and wait, I am constantly interrupted while I do so.

This is how last evening went for me: I find out at 5 p.m. via a panicked text from my darling teenage daughter that she HAS to have a sports physical for cheer. Today. Sports registration is tomorrow.

“But mom, know one knew it!”

Apparently, this is the year that the district is enforcing registration. And she was right – I got the email – today was registration.

So, right after practice at 7:15 p.m., off we go to an Urgent Care that offers sport physicals. And, bonus, “We’re not busy right now, so it’s a great time to come in!” says the perky receptionist.

Score!

Ten minutes and several reams paper – in the tiniest of print ever – we are ready! Woot – she can get her physical and we’re outta here!

Except that, in the time it takes me to deliver the paperwork to the front counter, sit down, go back up with my ID, sit down, and run back to the counter to sign something, sit down, and bring my credit card and swipe it, someone comes in to the Urgent Care, and she needs stitches.

Luck is also a genetic trait I inherited.

To pacify me, they stuck us in an exam room to wait it out. Maybe that is the front desk’s way of making one feel like they have progressed in the Waiting Game.

Looking around the a-typical exam room, I strolled down memory lane, remembering comforting my little girl during well-baby checks. Such a bland, sterile environment that is creepy. Back in the day, I could usually calm her with a mass of cotton balls made into things.

Except, now, I was the one who needed the calming. My patience was pushed to the max. Was there really only one doctor in this clinic?

Yep.

I leafed through a parenting magazine, looked up, and saw a box of exam gloves.

You know what happened next.

Giggling like a girl, I blew the glove up like a balloon, posed it and took photos of it modeling in the exam room.

And my darling daughter, why, she gave me the best compliment:

“I gotta hand it to you, Mom, that is pretty funny!”

Yep, sometimes you just have to laugh.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb