and that’s okay

Today’s cross country meet was as close the middle of nowhere that I’ve been in a while. Each runner was only allowed two spectators, which meant that instead of all of us, it was me and my mother-in-law this time. She’s come with us for every meet so far, and was glad to come along again for this one. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these fall adventures we’ve had together.

With my kids getting older, I’m in a season of blindly going by stereotypes. We’ve heard about the terrible twos. For me it ended up being more like the challenging times of three and four, which is when I felt like I’d entered completely uncharted territory when it came to parenting. I knew babies enough, but after three I didn’t know what I was supposed to do anymore.

Once we’d parked and found our way to the course, we moved a little closer to our high school’s canopy. I saw my son and the other boys by the tent, and told my mother-in-law I’d be right back. I walked up to the tent, told my son that our missing cat had come back that morning, and then said, “Good luck boys!” They aren’t ones to say much back. Another time I’d gone up to them to learn their names so I would know who I was cheering for.

They told me their names then walked away. They’re absolutely nowhere near as curious about me as I am about them. I think I get it–it’s because they’re with their friends and I’m a mom. My biggest issue with teens so far has probably been dealing with my own insecurities. I asked my son one time if I embarrassed him. He looked at me like he was slightly puzzled, like he wondered where I’d even have gotten such a weird idea, and said no.

This team has been a fun one to watch. Since cross country was the only sport allowed for the fall, one of the senior boys, who’d always played fall soccer, decided to go out for cross country this year. He’s ended up winning every race so far, including one time he was neck and neck with another runner until the very last seconds of the final stretch, where he finally won and set a course record. Today, for the first time ever, he finished third.

They all had slower times today, and there was a lot more throwing up from the boys on other teams than I’d seen at any of the meets prior. I feel sick every single time the race starts. It doesn’t seem to matter if my mind is telling me all the right things, I still feel nervous and do not even begin to feel the slightest bit better until my son has crossed the finish line upright. I do not feel completely better until every last child has finished the race.

There usually isn’t room for him to ride back with us, and he’s happy if not happier riding back to school on the bus with the team. We hadn’t made plans for after the meet, when there would have been room for him to ride home with us. I thought about going over there to see if he wanted to come with us this time, and thus bypass the whole waiting around in the parking lot ting. I knew what his answer would be, so I didn’t think about it long.

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