Ok, first things first. The usual announcement. Keep reading the blog. Keep sending suggestions for topics. Sign up for email updates. Like the Facebook page. Thank you for reading and expanding the audience. End of announcement and onto the real BULLSHIT.
This post is going to touch on a couple of things that have happened to me in the past couple weeks that literally brought me to the brink of emotion. I am not going to lie. Living in the ocean of estrogen amongst all of these females has totally softened me up. I am a big wuss anymore. I get choked up by commercials, songs, feel good stories on the Voice, and who knows what else. I joke that somebody is crying in this house at least once a day, whether it’s one of my three daughters (ages 11, 9 and 8 months) or Mama, and it could happen at any time for any reason. At times, I feel like it should be me.
In the immortal words of Jim Valvano in his famous ESPY speech that he delivered while he was dying from cancer, all of us should do these three things every day— Laugh, spend time in deep thought, and be moved to the point of tears, i.e. cry. That is a full day. Here in the ocean of estrogen, we have it covered. We laugh all the time (mostly at me), spend time thinking (frequently about what I say to them), and yes, cry (for who knows what, but it is usually my fault). We have a full day pretty much everyday that ends with “y” up in here. Recently, the tables were turned on me.
My first example is the morning routine. I could say the same about the bedtime routine, but for these purposes, I will concentrate on the morning routine. For parents with school-age children, you know what I am talking about. Waking up these kids is a J-O-B every damn day, and now, throw in an infant and the surprises that may bring, and I just want to drop to my knees like a two year old. I have dear friends who have SIX kids so I think of them often as I am trying desperately to wake my two up, and it gives me some solace that it could be worse. Please wake up. Rub their back. Shake them gently. Please wake up. It’s time to get up for school. Please, I am begging you. Get up and get moving. Find something to wear. Damn, I wish we had school uniforms.
I have to get in the shower and get ready for work myself. I know nobody really cares that I have a 40 minute commute to work, and if I hit traffic, it could take an hour. I have to shower and get dressed. Please wake up. Oh, the baby is crying. Get her out of the crib, change her, make a bottle, and get it in her mouth ASAP. Are you guys up yet? Can you please wake up and hold the baby for five minutes while I shower and get dressed. Oh, you are tired. Well, join the club. I have to go to the spray bottle. Nobody likes the spray bottle. I hate to do it, but if you don’t get up, you get cold water on you. Now that everybody is up and mad at me, at least you are up and moving. Thank you. And, after the process is started, they are up, getting ready for school and I head to the car, frazzled, feeling guilty, and on the brink of a breakdown. Thank you Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd for talking about sports on the radio and helping me off the ledge as I drive to work. Parents, you are not alone.
Second example was the retirement of Derek Jeter. This was just another reminder that time stands still for no one, and we are getting older all the time. I love baseball, and I have admired the way Derek Jeter was able to play the game and rise to the occasion in big moments. He is only three years younger than me, and I have been watching him over his entire 20 year career in the big leagues. In his final game at Yankee Stadium, he had an all-time Jeter moment when he came up in the 9th inning, man on second, one out, tie game. Classic Jeter, he lines a single to right, the game winning run scores, and he ends his home career with a walk-off game winner. You can’t make this stuff up. If it was a movie, you wouldn’t believe it.
I am watching it with Mama and the kids at the dinner table, and when he hits the ball, I stand up. The run scores, the Yankees win, and there he is, jumping around first base, arms up, 50 thousand fans going crazy. Instant goosebumps. Tears well up in my eyes. A lump in my throat. I can’t say a word. The girls look at me, and the nine year old blurts out, “Daddy is going to cry.” Awesome. Definitely one of those things that I will always remember where I was and who I was with when I saw it. I held it together, but barely. We watched it over and over. I tried to explain to them that Jeter was just one of those guys and this was one of those moments. I felt like a little boy and an old man all at the same time, admiring a guy rising to the occasion one last time. And sharing it with my wife and girls made it that much more special.
The final example occurred while we were all out to dinner. As those of you with kids know, going out to dinner can be a tear jerking experience in itself. With an infant, we just take turns holding her while the others try to eat their food while it is hot. At least with the two older girls, we have a couple extra set of hands, and believe me, they are a tremendous help. Unlike me, the kids don’t mind eating their food lukewarm or even cold. Daddy is a bit of big baby, as I prefer to eat my dinner while it is still hot. Call me crazy, but when the server puts the food on the table, somebody please keep the baby occupied for a few minutes while I inhale whatever I ordered at its appropriate temperature.
On this night, we sit down to eat wings at Buffalo Wild Wings at 6pm. Mama and the girls have spent the day shuttling between fields and softball games while I was at work. I left work to coach the second game of the doubleheader for the Girl Sox, the 10 and under team that I am coaching this season. No, I am not the manager, but I am still heavily involved. Anyways, I change in the parking lot, after putting in nine hours at the sportsbook, and we suffer our first defeat of the season. Everybody is hungry, cranky, and tired, and we all need food.
At the table, it’s the usual BULLSHIT. Appetizers come, and all the females have to go to the bathroom. They all go together, following Mama like chicks following the mother duck. I love bathroom time. I get a 5-10 minute respite of silence and reflection. It truly is glorious. Also, I can eat what I want, how much I want, and I can even double dip without being scolded. As quick as it came though, the girls are back, and they are ready to eat like they are going to the electric chair. One thing about my girls, when they are hungry, they can eat. Just sit back and watch the show, and try not to lose a finger.
Games are on the TVs all around us, we talk, we relive the girls’ games, the poopy diapers, the commute between fields, etc, all in painstaking detail. I am constantly amazed at their ability to tell me EVERYTHING that happened to them throughout the day, and I was only away from them for nine hours. Of course, this is in between walks with the baby, a couple of dollars pissed away in the claw game that they love to play, and the baby playing her own game of making us pick up everything she drops on the floor because she thinks it’s funny. Remember that one? Oh, yeah, it’s real funny. Over and over. I am at my wits end.
Anyways, two hours later (YES, THAT IS TWO HOURS LATER), after repeated trips to the bathroom, walks around the restaurant, walks outside, a trip to the car, and, oh, yeah, eating, it’s time to get the check. The waitress hands me the bill, but it must be a mistake. I stop her and say, “I am sorry, but I think you gave us the wrong check. This says $5.18.” Now, this woman has been more than patient with us, she gave us great service in refilling our drinks and repeated requests for more ranch (kids love ranch), but surely she grabbed the wrong check. This marathon feast should have set us back about $80-100 with tip.
She hands us a napkin. On it, there is a handwritten note that simply says, “You have very polite daughters.” She goes on to explain that a complete stranger saw our girls with the baby in the bathroom or walking around the place or something, and they had an exchange. Our girls helped her or her daughter or were nice to them. Apparently, she didn’t really say exactly, and our girls had no idea. Whatever they did, they made such an impression that this complete stranger picked up our check and left without saying anything, leaving only this note. I was floored.
The best part was that the girls had no idea what they did. They were just being themselves. There is nothing like a compliment about your kids from a complete stranger. This was an all timer. I was beaming with pride. Literally speechless. As I tried to tell the kids how proud of them I was, it was another one of those lump in the throat moments. Hugs and kisses for everybody, and a proud Papa Bear.
You just never know. From the tears of frustration from the morning routine, the raw emotion of sharing a special moment with loved ones, and the pride that maybe all that hard work you put into raising these kids is working…it really is enough to make a grown man cry.