living in the ‘both and’

Can someone please tell me why, as we (gracefully) age, tears seem to be the natural response to … everything? Does life make us that tender? Am I just too emotional? Never mind. I don’t want anyone to answer my questions.

What I do know is that the events and things I looked forward to most in my high school days are now the same events and things I get to see Connor look forward to. Like, big football games, for instance. Except he gets to dress up in man gear and hit people on Friday nights when, in my day, I would have been losing my voice cheering on the boys from the bleachers.

The lead-up to this year’s Homecoming was pretty eventful. First, it was early so moms and dads everywhere were rushing to get formal wear and hair appointments and glitter and tutus and, oh crap, corsages.

I was up in Connor’s sauce the week prior for not listening to me on the couch one night as I was sharing my tender heart (i might be lying. i don’t remember what i was saying) and he said, ‘well mom, if you must know, i was just making sure abby would be ok with being the junior class rep with me this year.’ He’s such a punk. But it was true! I was so excited that he and Abby were selected to represent their class. Apparently, the way the kids do it these days is by voting for couples. Connor was so nonchalant about it and I was ready to jump out of my chair. We balance each other like that.

And apparently, unlike 1997, you must have a long dress for the game and a short dress for the dance so I send a heartfelt apology to all of the parents who had to shop twice as long to find ‘the one.’ I just placed multiple orders on Amazon and watched CJ disrobe in our living room to make sure his pants fit. These are times I’m zero percent sad I’m a boy mom.

The week leading up to Hoco was already looking to be a busy one. But, on top of that, we also had a potential game-jeopardizing hip flexor strain that CJ suffered at practice Tuesday. And, I wasn’t feeling the greatest. I’d starting having some sinus things which led to sleep woes which led to me getting a prompting from CJ’s dad to take a coco roro test. I honestly hadn’t even thought of it because I hadn’t suspected a thing outside of ragweed. But, as it turned out (yes, he was right and I’ve let him know as much), I was positive. To say I was in tears for hours is not an understatement. My mom can attest.

I’ve spent the last two years being so abundantly cautious because I was terrified of getting anyone else sick. I had always said I wouldn’t forgive myself if I did. Working in healthcare and seeing the impacts of and losses due to this awful virus have made me uber sensitive. But, here we were. I’d all but decided I couldn’t go to the game and I felt literally gutted. I’ve worked so hard to show up for CJ and I just couldn’t fathom not being there. He was so gracious about it when I texted him but it was one of those moments where my heart went out to any parent who hasn’t been able to be there for their kiddo. For any of the things. It’s not ever what we would want. My hero of the day was Abby’s mom, Pam. She reminded me of the updated guidelines and, in an even more amazing gesture, brought me a Biggby. I decided that I’d get to the game and ninja style my way around the bleachers to the opposite end of the stadium to avoid as much close contact as possible. And, I’d wear a mask.

While that was unpleasant, it meant that I could be there. And that was just more important to me.

I have to say, it’s a truly different game from field level. Also, who actually wants to stand for the whole game?! I applaud those folks who do that on purpose. But, I will say I felt like for the first time I could truly ‘feel’ the game. The emotion, the grit, the speed, the swear words. I’m KIDDING. Kind of. But really, it was incredible. It was also lonely.

I missed sitting in the stands with my crew cheering obnoxiously loud for the boys in blue. Of course I’m partial to #53 but I’m a big fan of the other kids, too. It truly is a family here and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It just wasn’t the same. It honestly made me so thankful for the progress I’ve made these past couple of years. I had been terrified to leave my house; to be seen. And now, while I’m not always confident in being seen, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be on a Friday night. Because of CJ.

The only benefit to being so close to the action was being able to get some cool shots of the boys playing. My sports photography isn’t stellar but I had fun. I was also allowed on to the track to see CJ and Abby walk out during halftime. I’ll be forever grateful to Principal Szczepanski who saw my sad puppy dog eyes trying to get a good shot.

And on Saturday, we dance. CJ and Abby were kind enough to pop over to my house for a bit prior and while they were likely already pictured out, they obliged me for some fun shots. First of all, my child. My gracious, Lord. I cannot with him and his ridiculous smile. Second, he could not have a more beautiful young woman on his side. I believe that Abby has the kindest spirit and it makes her outer beauty even more incredible. I’m in love with the two of them together. And yes, her dress

So was Hoco ’22 everything I hoped it would be? For Connor, 1000% yes. And, yes for me, too. Because while it didn’t go exactly as I would have liked, there was everything to celebrate. And isn’t that just like this life? It’s a whole lot of ‘both and.’ We’re going to have the hard. And even in the hard, we will also have the good. You might just have to look a little closer to see it sometimes. But I promise you, it’s there.

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