Photo: The drought has really done a number on our garden. Stuff is slow to ripen, stuff is slow to grow. We think the pumpkins are a failure (we got vines and flowers, but nothing turned into fruit), the marigolds bloomed only so briefly… the only thing flourishing is my basil plant (I’ve gotta make a hell of a lot of pesto this weekend!). But here, finally, are little glimpses of hard work paying off.
There are so many reasons why watching the Olympics this week has been jar-filling. There were many tears of joy and pride for Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas and Simone Manuel this week. There were many moments for feeling like an awesomely proud Marylander (if Maryland was a country, we’d have the 2nd-most medals at the Olympics right now). The fact that newspapers around the country had to explain to the world the great Maryland “O” during the National Anthem this week is enough to make me be ridiculously homesick and prideful. Remembering so many summers of swim team and the exhilaration of those Saturday morning races… anyway, it’s been a great week.
But the best part of watching the Olympics this week has been experiencing it with two little boys. It’s been a joy exposing them to a bunch of different sports, watching them make heads or tails of the funky rules, answering their questions about which flag belongs to which country and, of course, watching them grow their own bit of patriotism. “There is an American in this race, Mommy! Yeah! America! America!”
There is also the joy of listening to them dream out loud. Listening to them talk to each other about trying this or that, wondering out loud if “little boys can try that” or if that’s “only for grown-ups.” Ursa Major was transfixed by Kayla Harrison’s Judo win yesterday (“can boys do that, too?”) and Ursa Minor attempted to practice a trampoline routine on my bed this afternoon (“what do you mean we have to go to a gym?”). I told them how good I thought they’d be at synchronized diving if they wanted to get serious about learning how to swim. They asked if we could go see some rowing in real life some day (“You’re in luck! We can go to the Head of the Charles in a few months!”). They wondered if fencing and fighting with lightsabers is the same thing, which simply turned into asking me if I would buy them lightsabers (no).
With the joy of listening to the banter and (ever patiently) answering their very many questions, I’ve felt a need to resist giving into the selling of the fantastical Olympic dream. Proctor & Gamble and NBC really want me to do it, selling me the passionate dedication of Olympic motherhood: the tireless effort, the sacrifice, the pursuit of nothing more than a future Olympian’s glorious success. If only you will sign them up for one last sport… if only you will be there for them, day and night, mile after mile! Of course, it’s alluring. Who doesn’t want a daughter like Simone Biles? Who doesn’t want a son like Ashton Easton? Who doesn’t want those moments in the stands, tears in your eyes, as the anthem plays for your kid on the podium? Who doesn’t want that moment in the grocery store, seeing your kid on the Wheaties box, turning to some stranger and saying, “that’s my kid, you know.” Of course I want my sons, Maryland blood coursing strong in their veins, a swimming tradition in their family, to swim like the others kicking ass in Rio!
But the discipline comes in letting them dream their dreams. To come to their passions with sincerity. The discipline comes in not signing them up for every single thing, manically chasing my own thirst for some sort of vicarious glory. It’s their life to live, their path to follow. It’s my job to facilitate, but not lead. I can shelter the fires they start… but they must spark them. They must give life to them with those first moments of precious air, tend to them, stoking them and feeding them. The commercial of what my boys could become is a fantasy sold to me. If I chase it, it becomes nothing at all.
Truth be told, the driving force of both of my boys right now is the opportunity to daily ride in a limousine. Ursa Minor wants to be President of the United States because he knows that the president gets to ride in a limo. He says if he gets to be president, his limousine will be yellow. Ursa Major wants to be a rockstar and an astronaut. He wants to fly in space and be super cool but, because astronauts don’t generally get to ride around in limos, he also wants to be a rockstar.
I feel like these are perfectly reasonable and obtainable goals. Even the yellow presidential limo. Why the hell not?
And when they say these things, I respond, “you can be anything you want to be,” because it’s true. Truer words could not be said to those two right now. My job is to keep expanding the world for them, showing them all the possibilities. Thank you, Olympians! Every single one of you! My sons love you, and for the brief moments you hold their attention, they want to be you. I think that’s pretty damn awesome.
Before wishes, I must share:
My first complete-complete rag doll! This is the one I made for Ursa Major’s little girlfriend. Yes, I went overboard on the hair… I was figuring out a way to make a “full” head of hair and make it not look terrible. There are things I still have to work on, but I’m delighted by what I was able to accomplish! Onward toward making my friend’s new baby her doll this weekend!
It is Florida-hot in Massachusetts, Dear Reader. The air is thick and fragrant. It’s no fun to do anything outside and we run from air conditioned space to air conditioned space. The farmhouse groans and whines as the ancient wood expands and relaxes, we occupants doing our best not to be too grumpy about the whole thing. It won’t be long until the short days come and the Longest Season begins. Dear Reader, as ever, I have wishes for you. I wish you a good bowl of cold soup. Go find some! Savor it! I think wish you a better bowl of excellent ice cream. Seriously, go find your local stand, sit outside, get sticky and messy while enjoying a quirky evening in the fading summer light. Bonus points if you are with a sweetheart. Extra bonus points if you make your companion laugh so hard that they forget about their ice cream. I wish you an excellent adventure that leads you to an unexpected place. I wish you a strong hug, a lingering look from across a crowded room, an intimate whisper just for you. Tell someone a secret this weekend, Dear Reader. Set yourself just a little bit free.
As always, I wish you the opportunity to tell someone how much you love them. I wish you a reminder of how much you are loved and appreciated. Your presence brings people joy, Dear Reader. You inspire and uplift, contributing so much to so many. Don’t forget just how much you bring to the world, Dear Reader.
Until Monday,boldly laugh, walk, hug, cook, cheer, and take care.