Wordless Wednesday

July 5, 2010 – The Freedom Springs Kids Triathlon
To modify a Danskin quote about triathlon: 
“The child who starts the race is not the same child who finishes the race.”

Sleep in Peace, Benjamin

This holiday weekend, I am awash in a sea of red, white and blue images, along with all kinds of patriotic verbiage. 

When I arrived at Greensboro, FL, yesterday morning to run the Firecracker 5000 Race, I was greeted by crosses lining the streets memorializing citizens lost in the line of duty.

This morning, Facebook bloomed with quotes celebrating freedom, and AOL offered a red, white, and blue “theme of the day.”  One of my favorite Facebook statuses was Jess’s, which featured a lyric from the Toby Keith song “American Soldier”: 
 “I’m out here on the front lines, so sleep in peace tonight.”
Tomorrow, Wayne Kevin will compete in the “Freedom Springs Kids Triathlon.”  Here’s a picture from last year:

I loved the “Americana” feel of my morning in Greensboro yesterday.  I loved the thoughts and sentiments shared among all of us in the Facebook community today.  I loved the family get-together in Thomasville and the minor yet fun backyard fireworks ceremony we shared.  I love the anticipation of sharing another gorgeous North Florida morning with my son tomorrow enjoying the kids’ triathlon and closing out Independence Day weekend.

Most of all, though, the one moment that moved me most this weekend happened this morning.  I had just turned on CNN, and the reporter was interviewing some soldiers in Afghanistan (at Bagram Air Force Base).  Had the soldiers not all been in fatigues, and the video feed not been so erratic, the scene could have easily been mistaken for some coworkers having a care-free get-together on American soil and daring each other to soak their boss in the dunk tank.  When the reporter gave a few soldiers the opportunity to say something to the folks back home, a female soldier sent all her love and wishes to “my five year old son Benjamin, in Wisconsin.” 

I’ll just say it plain and simple; I would find it almost unbearable to be a world away from my child, for months on end.  Agree or disagree with the politics of it all, my heart breaks for this mother and child who are separated.  That mom/soldier has my empathy and gratitude. 

Sleep in peace tonight, Benjamin. 

Sometimes It Is Easy to Let Go

I worked a race Saturday (Coach Mike’s Run for the Kids 5K), so I didn’t do any personal banana counting. (I did run the course afterwards, and after the uphill grade of Mitchell Drive, I understood those stressed looks on finishers’ faces at the end.)

Throughout my run of the course, I was brainstorming what to blog about this weekend. There wouldn’t be any pictures of me to post (not that those are likely to bring on new followers!). I wasn’t with Wayne Kevin as he competed in the Stone Creek Kids’ Triathlon in Valdosta, GA, so I wouldn’t be able to count on pictures of that.

Well, Jeff Bowman took care of the picture end, and my brain took care of the “topic” end. So here are the pictures (photo credits to Jeff Bowman):

And here is the takeaway:
Back when Tenley did competitive gymnastics, one of the other moms had to miss half of the meets because her son played football on the same days. I could not imagine how she could bear missing her daughter’s meets. This was around the same time that I was talking to Tenley’s former third grade teacher about helping her with anxiety about moving schools, and I said, “we will work on the anxiety.” She rightly pointed out that resolving the anxiety was not really a “we” thing. The issues Tenley was facing would be most readily resolved with her in the driver’s seat. It was time for me to release my grip — although I could provide parental support in abundance, I couldn’t fix this problem for her.

Yesterday, however, I had virtually no qualms about not being in Valdosta with Wayne. I certainly can’t help him swim, bike, or run faster. I knew he would have fun being with his friend Alex, going to Wild Adventures afterwards (possibly the prime draw of the day), and being outside participating in the triathlon. If he had a bike accident? That’s what first aid is for. If that nagging big toe nail that is partially ripped off made it hard or impossible to run? Wayne would have to decide how badly he wanted to finish the race. I also know from plenty of observation that he’s a different boy when he’s with a “dad” coach than when he’s with mom.

So when I left to run the Schneider 5K course, knowing that he would probably call while I was out, I felt very relaxed about the outcome of his morning. I did have a “missed call” message when I returned. When I reached Wayne he was a) happy to be on his way to Wild Adventures, b) reasonably happy with his triathlon morning, and c) telling me he loved me. Nothing about nagging hanging toenails.

Wayne was number 32 yesterday (I guess he will be for most of the week because it’s written in sharpie on both arms and legs!!).
Just like the numbers that won’t wash off easily, this new phase in our parent/child evolution won’t easily fade for me either.
I’ll “run” into you next week, readers!

Jump into the unknown!

On her website, www.triathletemom.com, Suzanne Achtenhagen features the following credo:
Believe in yourself.
Live your dreams.
Jump into the unknown.
Here is Wayne and his friend, Alex, at the conclusion of the Red Hills Kids Triathlon here in Tallahassee today. This moment, from a parent’s perspective, rivaled the great moments in sporting history.
Go, Wayne! Go, Alex!