Losing Myself?

(originally in Abilene Families magazine)

My husband and I think that Super Bowl night is a good time to go to the movies without crowds. We only know sports figures from crime reports, and fantasy football/ baseball/ horseshoes is a time investment we don’t bother to make.

We aren’t sports people at my house. At least we weren’t... before we became parents.

I introduced myself to my son’s first little league coach by saying, “You know... I don’t really care for baseball...” Little did I know this man lived by the “Life is Baseball, The Rest is Just Details” motto and I may as well have insulted his mother. For some reason, Coach still loves me anyway -- but he never lets me forget that I dissed his sport.

Of course the universe laughed and I have children -- especially first-born -- that live and breathe all things sports. ESPN is a favorite channel, if TAKS covered batting averages and shots made “from the paint” of the pros it would be a no-brainer, and first-born is loyal to a fault to one city’s teams: football, baseball, and basketball all have her heart from that area.

And thus it was that I found myself last fall watching Game 6 of the American League Championship: Rangers taking on the Yankees. You might remember it as the game that sent them to the World Series, with Alex Rodriguez’s strike out being the final out of the game. I know enough about sports to know the sweet justice that had to be for the Rangers.

As I shouted and celebrated and wiped the tears from eyes, I looked around to realize that I was alone. Watching baseball. Voluntarily. And crying. What exactly was happening to me?

I wondered the same thing weeks ago as I woke my children at 5:30 on a summer Thursday morning (and they actually got out of bed), boarded crowded public transportation to bump along, then unload to wait in the heat with thousands of our closest friends to celebrate the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA National Championship.

The strangest thing about this scene isn’t that I was there, it’s that I wouldn’t have dreamed of being anywhere else on the planet at that moment.

Our children have made us lose our mind and hair. What’s left of our hair is graying. I am wrinkled and sag in places I can’t discuss on these pages. But bringing these people into my life has changed me. I wonder if I have lost who I am or if I am growing into someone better?

Somewhere between the 3 a.m. feedings and diaper changes and the 7 p.m. volleyball games and PTA programs, an actual person emerged. Someone with his or her own thoughts, ideas, interests, and opinions. How am I ever going to keep up? I have to jump in with both feet, of course.

A friend is adamantly not a dog person married to also-not-a-dog-person. Also victims of the humor of the universe, their third-born has longed for a dog since she knew what a dog was. Recently this family welcomed a puppy into the home.

Those of us that have walked that road know that in no time at all that dog will be an integral part of the family, with heaven and earth moved to keep puppy healthy and happy. Did my friend lose... or grow? I guess that depends on your perspective. I know that the third-born is one happy child.

We bring children into our lives expecting to influence and shape them into who we think they should be. Morals and boundaries are valuable lessons to pass along to our kids. But if we look and listen, occasionally these small people may lead us into a better understanding of the world around us.

And sometimes, they lead us to more fun: a day at the ballpark or a cuddle with a puppy. Not a bad place to be.

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