Monthly Archives: October 2015

Welcome Back to the Unknown

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Ya know those moments in life where you’re just kinda cruising along and you start thinking to yourself, “Hey, I’m doing alright. I totally got this.”  And then there’s a shift in the wind and suddenly you’re like, “Oh, wait…Welcome to the unknown”   Or should I say, welcome back to the unknown?

I’ve been a single mom for a little over three years now. It’s been a bigger challenge than I ever could have imagined.  But I have my days where I’m like, “Oh yeah, I ‘ve got this down.  I’m totally kicking butt. No problem.”  Our weekly schedule is a little crazy, especially on Wednesdays when it looks like this: Out the door by 7:45am with lunches in hand and the crockpot set for dinner, drop the kids at school by 8, drive the hour in traffic to the Central West End and pray that I can find rock star street parking not more than a few blocks from the hospital, walk (or run) into Siteman for my externship hours, at the stroke of 4:00 bolt back to the car, the kids have been picked up by a friend and dropped at home for Ally to be in charge until I get there, drive the hour back to Wildwood, burst in the door (by 5pm if I’m lucky) hoping that homework is done and Silas is at least partially changed for soccer practice, change clothes, sign off on homework, shovel food down the kids throats, try to remember to eat something myself, leave again by 5:40 to get Silas to practice in the valley by 6 (tonight we snuck a quick stop in to their grandparents’ house to pick up some of Ally’s forgotten items), drive across the valley to drop Ally at the church for youth group, drive back over to the ballfields so I can get in a quick couple miles before practice ends at 7:15, drive home, put Silas in the shower, clean up the kitchen, finish the homework, go pick Ally up from youth group by 8:30 (I lucked out tonight and she got a ride home), get Silas into bed, get Ethan into bed, sink down into a chair somewhere and finally take a breath.

Wow. That’s a day.  But I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to the craziness and doing it *mostly* on my own.  I’ve very thankful for my villiagers who help how they can.  But I’m used to being on a minute to minute schedule most days.  And, if I do say so myself, I’m doing alright.  Not perfect mind you, but alright.  I’m keeping the boat afloat.

So here we are going along, doing our thing, but yesterday Silas threw me for a little bit of a loop. After not seeing the kids all weekend, I arrived home to hugs and chaos.  After about a minute, Silas said, “Hey Mom!  Guess whaaaaat?” with the last part of the word going up a few notes in that sing-songy way that kids do when they want to spill the beans.

“What?”

“We have some news!”

My mind was spinning with, ‘Oh please let him say he lost another tooth, or they had pizza for lunch, or something…’ but I already knew what he was about to say.

“On Saturday…Dad engaged Katie!” He was beaming.  I was too, just because of how cute he was with his verbiage.

“Oh yeah? Your dad proposed to Katie? Are you excited?”

“Yes!”

I sat with that a minute. I wasn’t surprised in the least.  Even though they started dating around March of this year, I fully expected things would go quickly.  Call it gut instinct, women’s intuition, whatever.  I really was ok with it.  But I’m still processing the fact that my kids are about to have several members added to their family, people who I really don’t even know.  That’s kind of weird.  Kind of like that change in the wind I mentioned earlier.  Katie currently lives in Iowa with her 3 kids.  They will be married and moved in by Christmas.  Maybe instead of a light breeze, that’s more like a big gust.

Tonight after dropping Ally at youth group I drove back over to the Chesterfield Athletic complex where Silas was at practice. I had plans to get in a couple miles on the levee if I could scrounge up a headlamp in the car. I pulled the car into an empty space, pilfered through the running bag I keep in back, scored a headlamp with non-dead batteries and had all of 35 minutes until practice would end. It was still light enough when I started but the sun was already beneath the horizon, so I knew it was only a matter of time.  My first mile out, with the wind at my back, seemed easy and my feet cruised along the old familiar path.  At a mile and a half, I turned back to wind in my face and it got darker with each step.  I turned on the headlamp, which helped a little, but since I was also wearing a visor, some of the light was blocked.  Oh well, I would adjust.  I was dealing with the challenges, but I was still doing just fine.  My mind went back to a conversation with Ethan last night at bed time.

As I was tucking him in, he was telling me that Katie’s youngest would be in his class since they are less than a year apart in age.

I said, “You’re pretty excited, aren’t you?”

“Yes!” He responded. After a pause, he leaned over the top bunk to look at me, with a big smile and concerned eyes, he asked, “Are you, Mom?  Are you excited?”

“Am I…um, what? Excited?  Uh…”  I admit I wasn’t very graceful in the moment, I mean how in the world do you answer that?  But I recovered fairly quickly.  “Bud, if you are happy, then I am happy.  I’m glad you are excited.”

He smiled. I smiled.  Then I kissed him on the top of his head, as is our custom, and said “Good-night, bud, I love you.”

So, during my run tonight, I was thinking. Am I excited?  No, that’s not the word.  How do I feel? I’m not upset in any way.  It’s weird, for sure, to think about it.  And like I said, I’m still processing.  But I’m ok.  It creates a new dynamic, like wind or running in the dark, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.  It will take some getting used to, but we’ll adjust and in time it will just be what we’re all used to.

As Silas’ team came back into view, the lights of the field were much brighter than my headlamp. I could see them down on the field, running, playing, having fun.  And I thought, “I really do just want my kids to be happy and taken care of.   And if they have one more person (or several) in their lives to love them, then that just adds to their happiness.  As a single parent, all you can really hope for is that if your former spouse finds someone to share your children with, that this new person is good to your kids.  It’s the ultimate in letting go of control.  And it’s ok if I’m not always graceful when I feel like I’m running into the wind, in the dark.  I’ll adjust, and recover, and keep going.

As I neared the end of my run, I found myself praying…

God, help me with forgiveness. Help me continue to let go of what I thought my life should look like and help me to be gracious, always. God, Bless the union that is going to bring two families together and please protect my babies in that.  And God…bless the woman who is about to take on the new challenge of being a step-mother to my 3 amazing kiddos, carry her as she enters unfamiliar territory.  And guide her when she feels like she’s alone in the dark.  Show her grace and mercy and remind her that she isn’t alone.

As I prayed I noticed a lump forming in my throat. I know exactly what to pray for her, because it’s what I pray for me all the time.

It’s tough to run and cry at the same time, it really just makes you start to hyperventilate.

And God…please help me to remember to breathe.

 

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The Beauty of Sport

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Whoever first made the statement, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” must have been made of steel. Because from my personal experience, words have the ability to hurt a whole lot more than anything physical could.

Sportsmanship is defined as “an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors.” But from what I’ve witnessed over the past week, from both sides of the fence, fairness, ethics, respect and fellowship all seem to be lacking from sports on many levels.  Allow me to share some examples.

I am a Cubs fan. Ok, ok, make your jokes, I’ll wait…but I promise that you won’t come up with anything original that I haven’t heard before.  I mean seriously, I am a Cubs fan living in St. Louis, trust me when I say that some of the more personal attacks can actually hurt my feelings.  The NLCS has been somewhat painful to watch, my Cubs going down in flames with a grandeur even the most loyal fans could not have anticipated.  I’m sitting here writing this because I can’t stand the pain of watching the Mets destroy us any longer.  However, last week, when we won the NLDS, it was glorious.  But as is always the case with sports, there is a winner and a loser.  After the final game of the series the other night, the kids asked if we could go up to Mobile On the Run for 50 cent slushies (there is a deal here that when the Cardinals score 6 runs, the next day you can get fountain drinks, coffee and slushies on the cheap)  Anyway, we went up to the store, me in my Cubs shirt, Silas in his Cardinals shirt, and the cashier was teasing me, “Hey, we don’t serve Cubs fans here!”  His teasing was light hearted, there is a difference.  It’s a game.  It’s supposed to be FUN!

As I turned to leave with the kids, he said, “Actually, I hope they win it all.” The man behind me, loudly and angrily said, “I DON’T.”  Everyone in the store was taken aback by his hostility.  One woman said, “Why?”  He got right in my face, with my kids standing there watching, and practically spat the words on me, “Because I HATE Chicago”.  With my eyebrows raised, I made the Okay then face and we calmly left the building.  When we got in the car, my kids asked why that man was so angry.  I assured them it had more to do with his own life than it did with baseball.  The kids caught the tears in my eyes when the Cubs won and asked why I was crying.  My response, “Because your Grandpa would have loved this.”  But they didn’t see the tears I cried later for that man whose name I do not know, he has obviously been wounded and so he wounds.

Skip forward a few days to Saturday when I got to watch my Spartans take on our biggest rival the University of Michigan wolverines. With a couple minutes left in the game, the Spartans were down by 2 with a chance to score. But they failed to convert at 4th down and 19, so the wolverines had the ball again.  With only 10 seconds left their kicker, who had scored almost half of their 23 points for the day came out to punt, but the placement was wrong, UM fumbled the ball and the Spartans ran it back for a touchdown to win 23-27 with no time left on the clock.  Despite my prediction to Brian that it was indeed possible, even I didn’t really expect it to happen.  It was a shocker to anyone watching.  As a Spartan, I celebrated.  As a human being, I was sad to learn that the young Australian kicker has since received death threats because of it.  Sad.  Just sad. Where are the priorities?

As a Spartan fan, I am used to winning. (March Madness anyone?)  As a Cubs fan, I am used to losing.  Sad, but true.  As a Jacobs, I have learned to do both graciously, sportsmanship.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While I watched my Spartans win, and my Cubbies lose to the Mets in game 1 on Saturday, the best game I watched that day was my 10 year old’s soccer game. Silas’ game was great too, it ended in a tie.  But there was something really special about Ethan’s game.  One of his best friends from school was on the other team and they played hard against each other.  At the end of the 4-0 game, which team won is actually irrelevant, the boys found each other and Drew, the score forgotten, immediately asked, “Can Ethan come over to our house?”  Drew’s dad and I worked out the details and they were off.  Sportsmanship at it’s finest.

So why is it that when we grow up it becomes more acceptable, even expected, to talk smack? Especially among fans who aren’t even in the lineup?  Especially when the teasing pushes way past light hearted fun and becomes bitter and hurtful.  The answer: It’s NOT acceptable.  If we really want our kids to remember to practice sportsmanship, we have to continue to practice it ourselves.

Go on and celebrate when your team wins. Absolutely! Cheer to your hearts content, but remember how to cross the field and shake hands with the other team.  It’s reasonable to feel sad when your team loses, but hang your head only for a moment and then raise it high again.  And remember to congratulate the other team, and then try to learn something from the loss.  Learning from our mistakes and our losses is a necessary part of life.

In a press conference earlier today, that young college kicker said, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again. That’s the beauty of sport.”  Yes, there is even beauty in losing.  You can try again.

And because of that, I will continue to love my teams. Even my Cubs.  Being a Cubs fan is about so much more than baseball to me.

It’s about a legacy, I am a 6th generation Cubs fan.  And I am more proud of being a Jacobs than I am almost anything else in my life.

It’s about loyalty, staying true through the good and the bad. Even if it’s mostly bad.

It’s about texts with my brother, my uncle, my cousins when Baez redeems himself by hitting a homerun or Schwarber hits a bomb that will remain on top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard.

It’s about learning to live in the moment and celebrate the victories we’re given, because we are never guaranteed another opportunity.

It’s about learning to accept defeat. And knowing that winning isn’t everything.

It’s about being gracious in any and every situation. (If some other jerk Cubs fan has run his mouth to you, I am not responsible for his behavior, so please don’t hold it against me.)

It’s about sportsmanship. One of my favorite quotes from my dad was this, “Don’t throw the equipment.  It’s not the equipment’s fault.”  It’s also not your opponents fault.

It’s about memories.  So many memories. Some that make me laugh and some that make me cry.

It’s about knowing that my 90 year old Grandma is watching the game too.

It’s about tradition. It’s about family.  It’s about hope.  It’s about having a connection to a man that I loved dearly and I look forward to seeing again some day.

My dad didn’t get to see a Cubs World Series win in his lifetime. Neither did my Grandpa.  And there is a chance I won’t either.  If you want to throw your world series wins in my face or pick on my team for losing, I’ll deal with that.  But the personal attacks are the ones that bother me. You can call it “teasing” but putting someone down is bullying, plain and simple.  I assure you my IQ is just fine and yeah, sometimes I am a “loser”, but aren’t we all on some occasions? I can’t say that some of those things don’t hurt, but I can say they still won’t change who I am.  After all is said and done, I’m a Jacobs.  And being a Cubs fan is just in my blood. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I hope that at the end of the day, or the end of the game, or the season, that Ethan gets his example of sportsmanship from me. And I really hope he doesn’t grow out of that.  Because just like that young kicker said, “That’s the beauty of sport.”

My cousin Chuck's facebook post the other night. I love my family.

My cousin Chuck’s facebook post the other night. I love my family.

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