Take Us Home 

There’s a lyric that goes, “Worked out that I’ve probably made a mistake for everything I’ve done right.”  That would be me, though honestly? probably the scales lean even more toward the mistake side than the side of right.

Fourteen years ago today I did something really right though.  Before we were four, or even three, we were two.


We got serious quickly, Tom and me.  I can remember as if it were last week, standing in the hallway at his old house saying to him that I hoped we would be lucky enough to have kids, specifically to have boys, because the world needed more solid, decent men like him in it. That I couldn’t wait to make us a party of three.  I was wearing my denim bib shortalls, a red tee underneath, and my pink “Life is Good” baseball cap (it was sixteen years ago, you can check your fashion files–it’s all good, yo).

I didn’t have to wait long for that at all.  Sometimes dreams do come true.

At alternate turns, reality surpasses anything you could dream in your wildest imaginings.  You never dream what fourteen years down the road looks like.  You don’t dream that your kitchen window would remain uncased nearly a year after the kitchen remodel was “done.”  You don’t dream of cleaning up the vomit your dopey rescue dog launched after he destroyed the carpeting back onto that same now un-carpeted spot.  You don’t dream of seeing your spouse randomly in passing most nights between the shuffle of piano lessons, school activities, doctor appointments and baseball practices (and with your vision failing at every turn, you barely actually see anything anymore!).  You surely don’t dream that your son gets tagged with a progressive, neurological disease, and you never dream that you become a reluctant advocate and fundraiser for MD, but you manage to help raise over $5,000.

But now?  I couldn’t dream of any other life but this one (minus the dog vomit part, obviously, and the MD which still, yeah).

You do dream that your children become productive stewards unto the world, and you help them get there through volunteerism, service, and kindness. Check. You do dream that you can send your kid on his big class trip, and that he returns a changed young man.  Check.  You do dream that your kid who loves sports of all sorts blasts another homer over the fence, and that he is humble about that feat when his cleats return to stomp on home plate.  Check.  You dream that you have enough to give your children more than you believed you had at that same age.  You float fuzzy visions that you’re happy, whatever happy means to you at the time.  And you are.

You find just the right lyrics to capture how you feel on your fourteenth wedding anniversary:

We’re forever, you and me.  The sun will show us where to go.  Love will give us heart and soul, and take us home.

Home. Happy Anniversary to us.

Advertisements

My Playlist For Him

I’m pleased and then some to report that Son Number One did not sully the charter bus lavatory en route to D.C.  No, no, I received a text from the boy Sunday evening from somewhere in Pennsylvania telling me “an eighth grader locked himself in the bathroom.  LOL.  LMAO.”  You text LMAO to your mom, kid??  It’s OK.  Here’s how I responded, because I’m classy like that.  

Mother of the Year applications are out and my fingers crossed, because 2017 is MY YEAR, yo.  I love Bitmojis, but I feel that my Bitmoji is much cuter than I am in real life, and I’d hate for anyone to think I hold myself in such high regard.  I assiduously avoided using Bitmoji Wendy for months for that reason. Yes, that is entirely true, and yes, I have given it that degree of contemplation.  I need a life.

I’m obsessed with a new song, well, a new-to-me song.  If you have a son you adore and a spouse you love to the moon and stars and back, listen to Donovan Woods’ What They Mean.  I cried, literally cried the first 43 times I listened to it.  It’s sweet, and will make you fall in love with your son the same way you did the first time ever you heard his tiny heart beat through that monitor.  I saw Donovan Woods last month with my little one sitting next to me.  It was the first time I’d heard this beautiful little 3-act story set to music, and with my little guy right there next to me, my eyes leaked.  With my big kid gone this week, I’ve been slightly sentimental, just slightly. . .  Just listen to this. *sigh*

What They Mean will lead the “My Kid Is Gone For Five Days On His Class Trip And I’m Feeling A Bit Too Sentimental This Week Because Of It” playlist.  Gotta work on the title, but I have KILLER tracks.

Next up is Blue Oyster Cult (see how I avoided the umlauts?) Don’t Fear the Reaper. Because “More Cowbell.”  After weeping my way through Track 1, we need to get this party started. And my kid loves the Christopher Walken/Will Ferrell SNL skit, so I’m all smiles now thinking about it.  It’s never not funny. Watch it here. You’ll laugh, I promise.  I got a fevah, and the only prescription is more cowbell.  Jimmy Fallon loses it, and there’s little that makes me laugh harder than someone trying to suppress theirs.

Thoroughly charming, but not as straight-up comical as BOC is Allergies.  Barenaked Ladies’ album Snacktime! saved my life when the kids were small.  It was released at the moment I was as near to pulling out all my hair from mega-doses of The Wiggles, Greg & Steve, and anything airing on the Disney Jr. cable network as I would approach.  It was just yesterday that I was driving the boys to day care in our superbadass white Chrysler Town & Country listening to that album, wasn’t it? Maybe last week or so??  It’s clever, and because my big kid had allergies, this song got a lot of play.  So did Crazy ABCs.  J for jalapeno, good in either corn or flour. . . tortillas. . .  nice rhyme.

When we brought home Jack Johnson’s album of songs to accompany the movie Curious George, my son inserted the CD, perched himself atop our coffee table and strummed his acoustic guitar along with the soundtrack.  He listened to the album, start to finish, “playing” along in its entirety.  It opened with Upside Down, and I still enjoy that song as it evokes memories of my little blondie whose eyes were still blue.  (They’re green now.)

Doesn’t every kid go through their emo-80s phase between the ages of 4-5?  Just mine?  For a spell, he was heavy into The Cure, and his favorite song was A Forest.  I must’ve heard that song 300 times that summer.  He is his mother’s child, and if a song owns you, you listen.  Often.  Always.  You don’t get to pick, you just listen because you’re under its spell.

We interrupt this semi-cohesive playlist to wish you a Merry Christmas.  I’d be remiss if I omitted these two songs simply because they’re Christmas songs, and since it’s my I miss my kid playlist, I get to pick.  He loved It’s Christmastime Again by Tom Petty and giggled like a little elf over Donde Esta Santa Claus? by Straight No Chaser.  Ho, ho, ho, mamasita!

Lost Highway and Love’s The Only Rule by Bon Jovi come next.  Bon Jovi played a critical role in my coming of age back in the mid-late 80s, and I just loved that my child loved their music too.  Once my little stinker graduated from acoustic to electric guitar, he hammered out the solos in these tunes.  And by hammered out I mean strummed along, definitely not plugged in.  He has as much guitar knowledge now as he did then (exactly none), but what he lacked in musicianship, he made up for with passion and commitment known only to obsessive 4-year-olds.

026

Globetrot from the Silverball album is next.  This one is for me alone because, hello?  Road trip.  Globe trotting.  And also because it contains one of my favorite wrong lyrics of all time: I want gravy on satisfaction.  Still think mine works better.  Sorry, Ed.

Amsterdam by Imagine Dragons transitions us toward the home stretch here.  We both love the song, and we laughed in horror at an Impractical Jokers punishment where two of the guys had to improvise a concert opening up for Imagine Dragons.  Dressed like 80s hair band rejects.  It was naked humiliation, OK, spandex humiliation, in front of an audience of 14,000 rain-soaked and pissed off fans.  They opened by thanking the Imagination Dragons for the opening slot, and were soundly booed.  We laughed til it hurt, and we still almost always refer to the band as Imagination Dragons.

Did I Say That Out Loud? Because it’s greater than gravity.  Love.

Last up is Take Us Home by Alan Doyle.  I love this song, and every time my big kid asks to pick songs when we’re driving he chooses it because he knows I love it and I love that.

I miss my boy is all.

I’m Practically Canadian 

I’ve passed on a billion cool opportunities in this lifetime.  Until recently, I’d have classed myself out of some perceived bonuses, believing I was neither good nor deserving enough to cash in.  Too often I’ve designated myself unworthy of any VIP lifestyle–who do I think I am anyway?  I’m mostly a rule follower, so never tried to sneak in to anything or try to score something above my station in life.  I’d observe longingly from the sidelines, questioning how did they get that?, and walk off, aware that in the us vs. them, I was a them.

Still, I marveled at how people got to do the stuff they did.  “That’s so cool!” I’d think, or “I could never do that!” or “They’re so lucky!” were common refrains.  *sigh*  I champion the underdog in nearly everything, I suppose because I know myself as that underdog.  Not coveting, but not not wanting my moment in the sun.  Surely I don’t deserve special treatment or an extra-special anything really.  I’m just this girl from Milwaukee, nothing to see here, folks, keep moving.

I never want my children to feel ordinary.  NOT entitled, never.  But not ordinary.

Saturday night my little guy and I traveled west of Chicago to see Alan Doyle in concert.  Alan Doyle is a Canadian musician/singer/author/actor, widely known north of the border, but playing comparatively smaller venues in the US.  The guy obviously loves his job!  He and his band, the Beautiful Gypsies, empty their hearts on the stage instrumentally and vocally.  I’m new to the fan club, but what I lack in tenure, I make up for in enthusiasm.  My kid and I sat near the front, and to look at my son during the performance, you’d have thought he was steps from a coma.  You’d have been very wrong.

He had a great time!  He knows Alan’s music as well as I do, and has even worked out Sea of No Cares on piano!  He loved the show!  What he dislikes?  Attention.  He may have looked like the poster child for preteen narcolepsy, but he was into it.  INTO it.  He’s eleven, so any kind of scene he’s going to make will be on his ‘tween terms.  He never stops talking or moving at home, but he’s a different child out in the big, wide world.  He’s quiet and shuns attention until he’s all in, and then he’s ALL IN.

But I noticed shades of quiet not attributed to shyness recently, and felt like Saturday night was as good a time as any to take that bold, first step.

After his shows, Alan Doyle invites anyone interested to stick around and say hello.  He’ll pose for photos and sign things for fans.  The first time my boy saw him last January, Alan gave my son his set list from the stage.  That guy!   My guy was wilting, and when an Alan überfan asked if she could photograph the list, my son was astonished into near paralysis–only his eyes moved to search me for the correct response.  We didn’t stick around then ’cause it was a school night, and we were staring down a two-hour return trip home and I am a responsible parent, but he kept the set list because, hello?   Oh, FYI, of course we let the woman take a pic of the set list.  We’re cool like that.

Late Saturday night, my boy makes his way to the restroom for the pre-travel potty break while I chatted with some friends.  Looking over my shoulder, there’s a scrum of fans surrounding the man in black.  I ask my kid if he wants to hang around to meet Mr. Doyle, and he’s quiet like, “Aaaaaah, nah, that’s OK.  There’s a lot of people, and mumblemumblemumble.”  Naturally I was like, “Let’s, honey.  Let’s go say hello and tell him how much we liked the show.”  (Because I am SO GIFTED with the words, and probably no one has ever said such a unique thing to him in his decades-long career.  Jaysus.)

He was nervous up til and including the very end.  My son, not Alan Doyle.  “Are you sure it’s OK, Mom?” (Oh no, he sounds like me!)  I produced the set list from my purse and he was all, “I was looking for that!” (his room is like an episode of Hoarders, Jr. so of course he had to be looking for it–nothing is ever where one expects it might be in that morass) and I was all, “Let’s ask him to sign it” and he was all, “I don’t know if we should” and I was all, “Then yes, we definitely should!”

And we did.  And I was sooooo awkward, not at all fleet of speech.  I wanted to show my kid it was OK to do something cool like meet the guy who just put on that terrific show and not feel like you didn’t deserve to say hey.  I probably proved actually how very little I deserved to be there–words are hard, people, even for a wiseass like me.  Instead of saying how much I enjoyed reading his memoir, how I thought he penned a beautiful love letter to his hometown with such detail I could see him running up and down that hill, how he paints pictures with words and melodies and on-stage energy, how Take Us Home is one of the sweetest songs I know, I ended up basically mute.  Super, Wendy.  But I showed my kid he could do it, even if you sound like a complete dork while doing it, the lesson is this: leap.


My kid thought it was pretty slick.  He told me that after last week’s planes, trains, and automobiles to my Barenaked Ladies bender, and this trip to see Alan Doyle, I was practically Canadian.  Man, I love that kid.  He deserves the sun, the moon, and all the stars.  All of ’em. He is kind and gentle, my kid–he sat next to me at a concert and didn’t completely die when I got up and danced.  Now if that doesn’t say something right there!  He’s funny and concerned and shows empathy.  He is not an undeserving, ordinary boy.  He’s special, and I’m so glad he’s mine.  I just hope it doesn’t take him nearly a half century to know and remember how special he is.

PS–I managed a whole blog post and never once mentioned that my Number One Son came home from OT with his first piece of MD equipment today.  I didn’t even cry. I didn’t take him to the appointment, but details, whatevs.  Today was a first. For both of us.  Exhale.