My silver linings playbook

Five minutes ago, I wrote about Goldie—off to high school. This fall, she’s applying to college and will be out of the house next August. Picture me now, lying on my stomach, pounding my fists and feet into the carpet. It appears I’m exercising; I’m actually falling apart.

Too much? Over the top? Maybe. But understand I’ve struggled to define life’s purpose, as I know many of us do and have, and motherhood provided answers—immediate, well-defined, profound. Yes, Goldie will still need me from far away and the other two blondes still lurk about, but the closer she gets to graduation and beyond, the smaller this nest becomes. I’ll say it again, “I like a crowd,” and I like Goldie. How do I make the most of what will likely be her last full year in this house?

Enter Bun Bun, who tore her ACL five weeks ago, and Miss T, who has a nagging hip flexor issue and had to step away from soccer indefinitely. For the past ten years, I have been at evening practices three to five nights a week between the two of them. In addition, there was volleyball for Goldie several of those years, though not recently (thank God).

C'mon, It's just a drawing.

C’mon, It’s just a drawing.

For Bun Bun, when it happened—in the first game of the club season, a foot plant, a pivot, then a buckled knee—there was denial, even after I watched my daughter-who-always-gets-up remain down on the turf. We were both certain, after the pain subsided and mobility returned, that the MRI would come back negative. It didn’t and there was grief. She’s out six to eight months after surgery next week and how can that be?! I’ve cried for her because people have been too nice (damn them) and understand how disruptive this is on an emotional level. Soccer is what she does (obviously among things, but you get my point).

And then poor Miss T has had a rough patch with an injury aggravated specifically by soccer and I had to pull her from the sport until her body heals. As back-to-school nights conclude and physical therapy shifts to afternoons, we find ourselves with evenings returned to us like a favorite sweatshirt we’d long ago given up as lost. “There it is!” I think as I listen to Goldie rant about one issue or another while I try to catch up on some reading. Even the act of making dinner while the girls are scattered doing homework in the house feels like this tremendous gift, when in fact it’s what we desperately needed as a family. I don’t have to like the reasons why it came about but I won’t apologize for enjoying the outcome (you can’t make me).

I’ll say the same about my job. Too frequently, I have to put out fires and sometimes the fire is a person. When that’s the case, the embers seem to smolder and full containment feels out of reach. I revert to myself as an eight-year-old losing at Monopoly, upsetting the board and leaving the tiny top hat, thimble, and race car scattered on the floor—“I don’t want to play anymore!” Except this time, this week, I’m choosing to read the smoke as a signal. I’m backing up and backing off because the thing that’s burning can’t be saved (like Trump supporters) and over here is where I’m needed. (Do you have any idea what I’ve just said? Some knuckleheads have forced me to take stock and I’m grateful. I expect to write more because of it.)

Two things I know for sure:

— Not every situation has a silver lining.

— Because of this, I am blessed.

Tell me a story. Have you made lemonade from lemons recently?



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  1. Joanne Neil says

    I took a deep breath with you. So true about Daughter 1 moving on after this year . You gave her the roots, and the desire to think ahead. These injuries are so sad because soccer , a very major part of life for Daughters 2 & 3, is on hold. But selfishly I thought we might actually get to play some “auction” this trip. So glad we will soon be with you.

  2. Mary Anne says

    Oh lordy- I am right there with you kicking and screaming (over a variety of things). You have given me pause though – I will consider it exercise from now on. My favorite genie in a bottle wish is that I could halt time for awhile. I think I could happily spend many more years driving around a carful of sweaty football players to and from their games, or getting my debrief of all the dating/homecoming drama from my Fros/Soph girls volleyball team. It will be gone way too soon for my taste. Enjoy the family nights. See you soon and as always so fun to see your post in my inbox (right after the one from Sean’s Spanish teacher – won’t miss him).

  3. Loretta Keegan says

    I am delighted to read your blog kept me entertained! Motherhood is a bit of a wonderful & perplexing Journey! & Your Doing a Great job!

  4. Mare says

    My kids are in Africa and Hawaii as I write. Thankfully both returning soon…but both no longer living in LA and I miss them so much. I read your blog with tears in my eyes. It all goes by so fast. We do the best we can, but often we’re going so fast that we forget to stop and enjoy the ride a little bit more…we forget that it’s what feeds us later on when we’re looking for memories. Enjoy this time. There will be soccer again and your girls are such natural athletes that I’m guessing it will be like they never left. And daughter #1 heading to college is too much to imagine. I remember her baby days like they were yesterday. We’re counting on you to keep us young with your young ones. No pressure…but can you make time standstill please!

  5. Jeannie Hayden says

    Love to see your blogs in my inbox! I connect with so much you say- YOU do all the work of writing it- but then you help ME feel better!

  6. says

    OMG…stop it…you’re killing me and making me re-live my days of agony after my kids went off to college! So teary right now! Thankfully you eventually get over it and realize that you have a really fun place to visit for parent’s weekend. It’s such a bittersweet time….so excited for the adventures that they’ll have and desperately want to make time stand still and hold them tight. I can say now that it’s the beginning of so many exciting adventures that will be coming your way. Way to make lemonade out of lemons… enjoying the extra time you have with them. Such a bummer about the injuries, but as Mare said, they’ll be back at it soon and your life will be hectic again. Enjoy! …and thanks for being such an awesome writer! I loved reading what you write.


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