My youngest son came home last night with his basketball jerseys.
He had four, two for his JV team and two for his Varsity. He is a freshman this year and the last year has changed him. Hell it’s changed us all, but he was a sweet boy, he was my boy…not a momma’s boy but my boy. He loved me, and was the baby of the family even after Laney was born. He was the only one left at home with me for two years as his brothers went off to school, and it made us close.
I volunteered in his classrooms, was the “bench mom” for his baseball team, and coached his basketball team, I had done it for my other boys, but he liked having me there, he loved his mom…even in public. I think finding out about his father’s betrayal hit a different nerve with him, his brothers felt it for themselves, their family, and a hurt for their baby sister. He was pissed off that his mom was hurt.
He was told last year the day of his first Basketball game of the season…His eighth grade year, big guy on campus, finally getting to play with his best friend again, should be the best year ever, and he was told hours before the first game, his dad had been cheating on his mom whole time he was in Junior High.
His older brother ran from the room as his dad spoke on speaker phone, a conversation no boy should ever have with his father, and there he sat on the couch…no words, no screams, just silent tears streaming down his face. I was torn then, three children all in tears and only me to comfort them. I grabbed up a screaming Laney, who was asking “Why’s Bubba’s crying? Why’s Momma mad at Daddy? I’s don’t like Daddy” and threw her on my hip.
Upstairs I ran to check on my middle son who had run from the room, he was crumpled on his bed in tears, and refused to talk. I gave him a hug, a kiss on the head, and told him “It will be okay, I don’t know how or when, but I promise it will be okay…” Lame? Yes, but I didn’t have a speech prepared, I was barely hanging on and I hadn’t got to process my thoughts yet (this was the same day I had spent fighting with bat shit crazy, remember who was so worried about her 30-year-old whore of a daughter, that she thought it was necessary to contact me with details of the affair. Because I didn’t have enough on my plate, and should worry about hurting “the whore’s” feelings…is it just me who looking back, without all the crazy and hurt in my eyes, would like to still punch that Bitch square in the face?)
I ran down stairs with Laney still on my hip, and found my baby boy just sitting there in silence, shaking as the tears fell. If you have a young baby or toddler, let me tell you a sad fact no one shares when you are thinking about having a child, The hardest part of being a parent isn’t the potty training, watching them fall or hurt themselves, the mouthy teenage years, or even watching them leave for college.
The hardest part of being a parent? It’s when we can’t protect them from the hurt of the world, when we have to watch them go through it and besides some weak ass words, and hugs we have nothing to offer to make it better. All the band aids, and kisses in the world can’t help that hurt, nothing but time even puts a dent in it. I hated my husband for a while (quite a while) for bringing that kind of hurt on my kids, into our family, and making me watch them struggle.
My son loved basketball, and I loved watching him play…my middle son has more skill at the game, but my youngest is so stinking quick he can steal the ball and be at the other end like he’s got wings on his shoes. He loved the game, and you could tell when he played. He always knew where I sat in the stands, I coached him for 4 years on the floor, so when I had to take a seat in the stands he still looked to me. My other boys never glanced my way, but he never stopped listening to my yells of “Drive it in!!” ” Get the ball!!” “What are you waiting for? You got him!!” And after the play he would look up again as I would cheer, we would make eye contact and smile…He was my baby boy.
“I don’t want to play tonight” he told me as I asked him to eat before the game.
“Ain’t gonna happen, you are going to play, and you aren’t going to let this ruin it for you” was my reply.
I made him eat even though he wasn’t hungry (and he’s my child who is always hungry), and took him to his game. I watched him play, and it broke my heart, he was there, and yet he wasn’t. The feet which had once flown down the court, were heavy and clumsy, his smile never made an appearance. His coach yelled at him not knowing my son’s world was broken, and I watched as my happy-go-lucky youngest son became angry and sullen.
After the game I sat in the car with him alone as we drove home and asked him where all his friends had been before the game. Our house was the one the boys went to as they waited for games to start, I always had food and snacks waiting, and made sure they knew they were welcome anytime.
“I told them we had stuff going on and they couldn’t come over” he answered.
It made me angry, and sad, but mostly angry.
“You don’t get to do that,” I told him “You don’t get to change your life, you don’t get to try to protect me, or make my life easier…You will not do that again…I am your mom and I get to take care of you…This will not change our house, or your friends coming over…Got it ?”
He nodded his head, and asked me a random question “Does tattoo removal hurt?”
I was taken back for a minute, then laughed…he caught me off guard with his question.
“Yes..” I told him shaking my head “it hurts.”
He smiled at me but it was a bitter, angry smile, one which didn’t belong on my sweet son’s face…”Good” he whispered “I hope it hurts a lot”.
My husband has a single tattoo, gotten years ago, of my name over his heart. It was in that moment I knew if I let it happen, my children would grow up with hate in their hearts toward their father (not a story for today).
My youngest has been different this year with sports, not his usual competitive self, and didn’t care if he made Varsity or even played. He showed me his uniforms last night though and he was a little excited, as he pulled them out of his bag.
“Think you might try now?” I asked him as I gathered them up to wash, “Maybe play the way you were taught to play and stop messing around?”
His whole life blew up a year ago, and his story is sad…is bitter and still not mine to tell. There were days I thought I’d never hear his sweet giggle or see his smile again, but last night we stood alone in the kitchen as we had a year ago…just me and my baby boy, and he smiled over at me and giggled
“Yeah, I guess..”
I will admit I got a little teary eyed and embarrassed him, but my baby boy will be out on the court this year with his older brother, playing a game I taught him, for awhile I had given up on that dream ever happening.
Friday night I get to go sit in the same gym I sat at last year alone, only I will sit by his father cheering as my boys warm up together for their first shared varsity basketball game.
“I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,
But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.”