On the First Day of _____ Grade

As the water flows, bumping over rocks and logs, careening around curves, and gliding through unencumbered paths, my heart sighs.

I long to be enveloped by it…..

My soul longs to feel it; to let it embrace my skin, the coolness permeate my nerves, it’s constant movement reminding me of its presence…….

As early as I can remember, I have been drawn to water. The saying goes that I “was born in March, and was in the water by June”. Even now, at 39, when I drive by the river, I ache to be in the water. I can feel in my soul the calming effect it has on me …..

Just watching the cascade entrances me…..

I can remember the way the water felt as our boat cut through the glassiness of the lake when I was a child. My young self, bathing suit on, life jacket zipped, with my hand held over the side of our boat….. Even though at times it stung, the color was beautiful and I could not focus my attention anywhere else. I was lost in those emerald green waters….

Today, as I drove around, completing my weekend chores, my window was down and the late summer air flowed through my car. I stretched my arm out of the window, and let the wind take my mind back to my childhood.

Isn’t it coincidental that the flowing air reels me back the same way the water does?

Oh, but it is not. My childhood was infused with creeks, lakes, and oceans. . . The scent of warm hay, summer nights, and fall evenings. . . Warm air blowing through long brown hair, cooler air coming through the windows of my daddy’s truck during after school errands, and freezing air making my cheeks red as we sled down the old logging road. . .

As my fingers play in the flowing air, I reach for those memories.

I smile, and sigh. Oh, to be young again!To tell my little self to hold onto every moment like it was my last….. Now, as a mom of three marvelous kids, I tell older self this very advice.

So, tomorrow, as I – and many other fabulous mom and dads – send their kids off to their first day of school (be it kindergarten or their senior year), listen to this advice :

Take just a moment. Hug them, smell their hair, cup their face in your hands, and tell them “Be good, be kind, be smart”.

Because these are the days that we get to pour into their hearts and souls. We get to encourage them, direct them, and fill their memory banks with amazing memories. . .

Teach them to hold onto the wind, embrace the water, and climb every mountain…….

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Moments….

This morning I am taking just a little time for myself…..before the liveliness of life begins….

We are in the beginning stages of football season. This is the time when my family is engrossed in plays, strategies, and trying to find matching socks. (We don’t use socks in the summer, thank you very much!) Although we have had spring and summer work outs, camps, and many practices, it is now game time. The ante has been upped, and we are all in! We will have late night dinners from fast food restaurants, lunches where nothing but football is discussed, and we will eat breakfast in the car. Every analogy I use will be football related. My wardrobe is strictly red, black, and gray. I will dress in layers to accommodate the late summer/early fall weather. There will be at least two bags packed in my car at all times, with clothes, equipment, and just in case items…..

My house will not be decorated in fall florals. I will not be seen weeding my poor flower garden, or making a burn pile. As a matter of fact, my grass might get pretty darn high…

maybe I could use that as a decoration!

Oooohhhh! Scary abandoned house…..

In all seriousness, every bit of this is truth. The hubs and I work full time jobs. We are blessed that he has a schedule that allows him to get everyone to practice, and that my schedule allows me to get everyone to the games! We are busy…..we will forget to call you back, we will forget we have plans with you, and we will inundate your social media feeds with our kiddos.

As I relax and am writing this, I am laughing at myself. We are not alone. Many parents are in the boat with us! They understand the struggle, the mentality, and the joys that come with this marvelous season …..

Then there are those who don’t.

I have been asked, numerous times, why we do this. So here is the “Jenni, the extended version” answer:

When Zeb was sick with meningitis, we didn’t know if he’d ever play again. The joy that he has now, just by putting on that jersey, melts my heart. As he stands on the sidelines, or runs out for a play, he is being watched by tiny future football players….. They wave at him, give him thumbs ups, and ask for pictures with him at the end of the game. He doesn’t give up. When we spoke about it last night he said “If I give up, what am I teaching the boys?” At 17, he has wisdom some men can’t comprehend. I’m not saying football, alone, is what taught him that. However, growing up playing every year, facing challenges, over coming obstacles, and being part of a brotherhood, has taught him to know he is more than the stats on a piece of paper. . .

Judah? At the age of 5 his helmet was bigger than he was. He was full of tenacity, and longed to be like his big brother. Now? At the age of 11, he is taller than me and is still full of that same tenacity. He gains wisdom from his brother, who tells him on a daily basis “I want you to be better than me.” The bonding between brothers brings me to tears, and as Zeb helps coach Judah’s team, they become a force to be reckoned with. Conversations regarding attitude, gratitude, and diligence fill our home. They are brothers, they are friends, they are a team. . .

So, I – we – do this for the moments. The moments of anger and tears where we – as parents – teach our boys how to process what they feel. The moments of joy and celebration where we savor every smile, every hug, every congratulatory word. Moments that are here and gone, just like our breath.

Judge me if you’d like…..frown when I show up late or seem a little frazzled…..roll your eyes as I, once again, show you highlights of my weekend….

I don’t care. . .

Because, you see, this mommas heart walks out onto the field every Friday and Saturday night. I’m a football mom, loud and proud! This season will be over just as quickly as it started, and I’ll never get back those moments. As my senior takes the field every Friday night, I will breathe in the air, listen to the crowd, and yell until my voice goes out. Then, I’ll wake up on Saturday, and as my baby takes the field…..I’ll do it again…….