"Party of Three" vs. "Party of One"…

I made three trips to Ben Milam elementary school this morning, all in under an hour.  AJ had to be there early for UIL math work;  I took Ben at the normal time, only to find we’d forgotten his conduct folder at home, so I trekked back home, located it, and returned for the third time to the school.  Good thing that we 1) live within 1 1/2 miles of the school, and 2) drive a hybrid that gets good gas mileage. 

As I was returning from Milam for the last time this morning, I marvelled at how busy I stay.  Seems like there is always something to be attended to immediately, and I have lists of long-term jobs that I will get to “eventually.”  I again thanked God for the opportunity to be a full-time stay at home mom, even as a widow, because it allows me time to focus completely on our two boys and the busy lives we lead.

I then began to wonder…..if I didn’t have AJ and Ben, what would I be doing?  How would I be coping? 

Would I still be getting out of bed each morning?  Would I still have purpose?  Would I still think life was worth living?  Or would I be a total mess, staying in my pajamas all day long?  Holed up in a house that was once full of laughter and love, would I venture out, keeping old relationships and interests? 

A dozen different scenarios flood my mind.  I hope that I would still get up in the morning, keep myself busy, and continue living.  But it would be incredibly difficult.  Thankfully, I won’t find out.  Like it or not, I have no choice in the matter.  Two boys need raising, and there’s no one else to do it. 

As I was returning from dropping AJ off at baseball practice last night, I did a bit of yelling at Mark.  I’m not proud of it.  I yelled it should be him at practice with Andrew, he should be there with his glove, ambling out on the field, shagging flies, shouting encouragement, giving positive reinforcement to his son.  I’m a poor substitute, at best. 

This time last year, Mark was preparing to be a Little League umpire, he loved calling games.  He hoped it would be a fun thing to continue whenever he retired, and he was good at it.  Thick-skinned, with a self-assurance and self-confidence that rivaled anyone I’ve ever known, he was the perfect umpire.  Never got his feathers ruffled, never raised his voice, never got personal in conflicts with coaches (or parents).  Steady, with a conviction to always do the right thing, and with a love of the game that still amazes me, he would follow the rules, implicitly.  No shortcuts. 

That’s how he lived his life.  He followed the rules.  He didn’t take any shortcuts.  He “grabbed life by the horns” each and every day, enjoying and relishing both simple and not-so-simple tasks and experiences.  He was my hero.  He’s left a pair of big shoes to fill, but I’m doing the best that I can.

At least I know a bit about sports.  I’ve loved baseball since I was a kid, so I can carry on a reasonably-knowledgeable conversation with AJ, aka “Mr. Baseball.”  Andrew appreciates that, and realizes every mom may not know what an RBI (runs batted in) or SLG (slugging percentage) is.  I think he feels lucky that I do. 

I’m learning new things each and every day.  He taught me last night how a fantasy baseball team operates, and I advised him on his pitching staff.  Ben’s his “co-manager,” so they are working with sports on the computer, a win-win for them both. 

After we said our prayers, exchanged kisses, and said our goodnights, I sneaked back in to watch both of them, sleeping.  I’m so thankful I have them.  They give me a reason to get out of the bed in the morning, and they make me want to be a better person.  They make me believe that our little party of three will make it.