As I was racing from one place to another and then another and yet another this week, it hit me that not only did I neglect to write a post about Jack, Graham and Anthony turning 7 but I never wrote one about Chase turning 9! What is even worse is that I am now closer to his 10th birthday than I want to be so I thought I would take a minute to just reflect on where we have been, where we are and where we are going.
First off, where have we been - that is an easy one to talk about.....sports fields! With the warm weather finally making its arrival, we have spent every day of the week (literally) at either soccer or baseball practice or games. I seem to have this crazy schedule figured out for the most part in terms of getting the boys home from school with enough time to finish homework, allow a brief spurt of backyard playtime before we load up on 'pre-dinner' before heading off to drop off one or three at a field and then racing to another field with whoever is left in the car! This is a quick summary of our weekly schedule:
Monday - soccer practice for all boys with overlapping times on different fields but all at the Y
Tuesday - baseball practice for all boys with Chase at one field and the triplets 20 minutes away - of course Chase starts after the triplets but they are further away. This has led to Mom making the unhappy choice to leave Chase at home for 15-20 minutes by himself until Jason can get home and get him to practice on occassion.
Wednesday - Chase has soccer practice
Thursday - hopefully a day off but more often than not Chase has a soccer scrimmage
Friday - baseball for all boys with the same conflict as Tuesday
Saturday - soccer game for triplets that usually conflicts with at least one of Chase's baseball tournament games
Sunday - soccer game for Chase that usually conflicts with part of his baseball tournament games
You know the ironic part? As busy as we are, everybody is happy and having fun. While the teams collectively aren't winning everything (as to be expected) when the boys come off the field, even after a loss, if you ask them, they will answer that they had fun. They enjoy their teammates, their coaches and the chance to play the game. As a mom, I am exhausted and feel like I miss out on something all of the time. I can't be at all Chase's games because I coach the triplets in soccer but then again, Jason misses some of the triplets games because he coaches Chase. While it hurts to miss, what is most important to me is that somebody is there for them. We are fortunate enough to have great families with all of our teams so if there is a 'parent gap' for a boy, another mom or dad will be our surrogate and cheer them on until we can be there in person.
I hear people talk all the time about not 'overscheduling' your kids. I will be honest when I say this was a major concern of mine this Spring, especially with Chase, but we talked to him before we committed him to both sports, explained what that mean in terms of 'backyard play time' and he CHOSE to do this. We choose to support him now, even when we are all tired and our paths are literally crossing coming in and out of the neighborhood or in parking spaces. What I can tell you is that while Jason and I haven't had much 'adult' time together, it has reinforced our communication skills with each other because we have to be in sync so we always know who is going to be at which field and with which kids.
How does school fit into this? The boys are all still doing great in school As a matter of fact, I have to admit that they seem to be like me in that regard. The busier we are, the more focused they become when they get home in order to finish school work, study for quizzes and tests, do their daily chores and still find time to play. If their grades were suffering, we would be making changes quickly. I will admit that there is a lot of studying in the car driving to and from school since we have about 20-25 minutes each way. We review lots of vocabulary words, spelling words, science and social studies. I take pictures of all their 'papers' and then we quiz while we drive. Sometimes I pass the 'phone' to Chase to quiz Jack, Graham and Anthony. Other times, the littles get to quiz Chase. I like to think that Chase is getting extra review of earlier learned concepts and the littles are getting a preview of what's to come when they are Chase's age!
It seems like the days, weeks and months fly by but then again, they seem to drag on forever if that makes any sense. Just yesterday as I was sitting at the kitchen table working, I looked outside the window and just watched the boys playing. I tried to take a mental picture because I know I'll never remember the details but I want to remember that feeling. The feeling of 'when did they get so big?' wrapped up in 'look at how much the love each other'. People ask me all the time if there are two that get along better than others. I can honestly say the answer is 'no'. However, they do gravitate toward certain pairings depending on the activity. Chase is really good about finding a way to connect with each of the triplets so he can bond with each one. At this moment in time, Jack has serious big brother adoration every time he looks at Chase. It was never more evident a couple of weeks ago. While on break, Chase had the opportunity to go to the coast with a good friend from school for a few days. He left of Tuesday and the littles and I drove to the coast Thursday afternoon, had a special overnight at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool, then drove an hour down the coast to pick Chase up for a baseball tournament. When we met up with Chase, Jack jumped out of the car, grabbed Chase's bag and threw it in the trunk before I could even take off my seatbelt and open my door! He had missed Chase that much. Added to that angst was the fact that we would drive home (3 1/2 hours) only to feed Chase lunch while I did his laundry so we could pack he and Jason and send them to Charlotte for a baseball tournament for the weekend. Jack had Chase for a little over 4 hours and then he was gone again. By the time Chase and Jason got home on Sunday, Jack was waiting by the door for them to get home and he followed Chase like a shadow for the next week. Chase, sensing Jack's shadow all the time, made a conscious effort to find a way to play with Jack. They played board games, drew with sidewalk chalk on the back patio or created imaginary games they could all play. It melted my heart to see both sides of this interaction because even when they are at each others throats, I know there is always a moment like this that I need to remember.
Of course, that doesn't mean that Graham and Anthony didn't miss him, they just found other ways to engage with him - namely playing soccer, hockey or baseball in the backyard - with Jack included when he felt like it - most times he likes to be the 'official' and take charge (wonder where he gets that from....)
Jason hung some updated pictures of the boys from Easter Sunday in our family frames and I noticed them while we were watching cartoons, snuggled on the couch, smelling of shampoo settling in for the night. In that moment, I was struck by how far we had come. What happened to my little babies who would all 'fit' in my lap or needed me to do everything for them. Not that I want them to stay small and dependent forever but in that moment I realized that they were growing up right before my eyes and I couldn't do a thing to stop it. I thought about all the milestones they had achieved and how many more were coming and it took my breath away. I think I was also reflecting on the general passing of time. My dad's birthday was April 12th and as the boys get older they ask more and more questions about him, like to look at pictures of him and it makes that ache a little bigger than the average day. It's those moments that make me stop and remember. Remember where I started, where I've been and where I want to go as a wife, as a mother and as a person. Some days are easier than others but it is in those challenging times that I try to work the hardest to do just that, remember. This blog definitely helps because I can go back and 'remember' with pictures and words but I don't want to forget that feeling either. Maybe that is why the words haven't been as important in the last year, the feelings are what mean the most right now. I want my boys to feel my love, to feel special, to feel important and to feel powerful in their lives. I just hope I am getting it right......