Poor C is getting thrown into the deep end of parenting chaos.
For most of our kids' lives, C was on the road Sun-Fri--there was even a point where he had a corporate apartment in Washington, DC . Four years ago, we decided that it was time to make a lifestyle change and have C get off the road. With the exception of a random trip a few times a year, C works about 3 miles from our house and is home 95% of the time for dinner.
I have taken 1 other trip during our active parenting years and that was 5 years ago to Israel. At that point in time, we lived closer to my folks and I'm pretty sure that my Mom took a highly active role helping C with the boys. Not only that, all the boys were in a single school, so there was 1 morning drop-off and 1 afternoon pick-up.
These days, the boys are in 3 different schools, 2 of which require twice-daily chauffeuring. Add in after-school jobs and wrestling practices, and C is spending about 4 hours each day in the car. Oh, and did I mention that while the floors are being refinished (this week), that he has moved out of our home and about 18 miles further north, which means even more time in traffic? Or, that my parents are out of town and cannot help him? Or, that #3 has a stomach bug and has been throwing up for 2 days and home from school?
So when C called earlier today reminding me to stop by the baseball field this evening, I could do nothing more than say "I'd be happy to." See, #3 loves "béisbol" (bees-bowl) and the thought that he will be able to play in Spain makes him happy which in turn makes us happy.
After my reminder, and as is my current routine, I entered the location into Google Maps and found that the fields are a 1.5 mile walk in the opposite direction from the apartment. Rather than go home and then summon the energy to go back out, I walked from school to the Valencia Loving Hut (holy crap, they have an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet DAILY) and then to a Starbucks where I reviewed my vocabulary, finished my homework, and enjoyed a taste of home.
I started walking towards the fields at 5:55 and arrived close to 6:15, with practice already in full-swing. There were 3 different leagues practicing at the same time: a little kids league, a softball league, and a teen league. I asked for my contact, and after some confusion learned that Eli (E-lie in the States) is pronounced "Ellie" in Spain. Unfortunately, Eli (remember that's pronounced Ellie) was sick and she was not at practice today. However, I did speak with another program supervisor and she answered my many questions.
After our chat, I went to watch practice so that I could see what expectations I should set for #3. For those familiar with US league sports, it is hard to imagine the pure joy and love that these kids have for the sport--and just how undeveloped their skills are at this age. Given the small number of interested players, there are no team try-outs; anyone that wants to make the commitment to the travel league has a place on the team.
I video conferenced #3 in via WhatsApp and he got to watch some of the practice, and to see that he will likely be among one of the stars on the field. And, despite the upset stomach, I got a big smile out of that boy this afternoon.
I have high hopes for C's life to get a bit easier this weekend. I know that the floors are finished and that C and the boys should be able to move back to our house on Saturday. I expect that #3's lingering stomach bug will pass. My parents return from their trip, and I know that they will be more than happy to help with the boys in whatever way she can.
There's not much I can do to make life back in Atlanta easier while I am 4,500 miles away, but if a walk to the béisbol field helps C and puts a smile on #3's face, how can I say "No?"
Thank you for everything that you're doing, Honey. I love you.