Thursday, May 24, 2012

Road trip...and so much more

Eight hundred miles.

That's how far it is from Texas to Iowa.

But it feels like so much more than that when someone is sleeping on you.  Just ask Reid.

  Hayden using Reid as a pillow.  Him not pleased.  

Last week, we put the roof rack on my little Scion xB and took off for a high school graduation in Iowa.  This wasn't just any graduation, but one of my dearest friend's daughter's graduation.  No ordinary girl, she is the one who bewitched me with her 2-year-old-self.  The one that I fell in love with.  The one that made me say to Aquaman, "We gotta get one of those!"

Many years and three sons later, I still haven't gotten one.  She's it.  My only girl.

So off we went to see her walk the stage and wish her well.  I first loaded up on college stuff for her - the obligatory hoodie, the pillow pet (You Bet!) in the shape of her soon-to-be mascot, a koozie, and a decal for her car - via the University of Minnesota website.  Their mascot?  The gopher.  Got a lot of mileage out of that one.  

Aquaman and I decided to leave after school Thursday evening.  We figured we'd just drive straight through and hoped the boys would fall asleep at some point.  It wouldn't have been so bad if my throat didn't start hurting Wednesday night.  Then I started sneezing.  I took the first shift, driving from 6:30 to 10:30, realizing that the air conditioner wasn't really blowing cold air.  Besides periodic cries of "It's hot!" and "Can you turn on the air?" from the back seat, things went pretty smoothly.   Then Aquaman took over.  Next thing I knew, it was 2:00 a.m. and I took another shift until 4:00.  Aquaman drove us the rest of the way through fields and fields of corn and soybeans.  We were having migas at our friend's farm house table by 8:30.  Nothing better.

The farm house
The barn

Some large piece of farm equipment

Aquaman and I both took turns napping the whole weekend.  Turns out we're not so tough anymore when it comes to driving all night.  I ended up with a full blown cold and a raging case of PMS.  But it was a wonderful time:  lots of great food and friends and old pictures to look through.  The graduation ceremony was somber.  My God, it was like a funeral.  Except for when I (and one brave accomplice) screamed out "Go Gophers!" as our graduate crossed the stage.  I'm pretty sure I won't be invited to the next kid's graduation.  But it was soooooo worth it.

It was a rite of passage for this sweet girl who is a ray of sunshine to all who know her.  But it was also a rite of passage for me.  One of my dearest friends - the one whom I bonded with during our tenure as Alaska residents  - was once again a model for me.  She had babies first.  She was with me during labor:  we had a secret pact, her and I.  It went something like this:

Me:  You know, if Aquaman flakes out on me, you're it.  I want you there.  Ready to step in if he can't hack it in the delivery room.
Her:  You got it.  I'm your man.
Me:  And if you ever mention this to Aquaman, I will deny that I doubted him.  I will say you are out of your gourd and this conversation never happened.
Her:  I understand.  I'm still your man.

And she was (only now I guess the secret's out).  She stood by the entire time I was in labor, but mostly comforted my mom in the waiting room who was frantically crocheting the baby a blanket and coming unglued every time she heard me scream, while Aquaman came through for me with flying colors.  She was one of the first to hold our sweet baby boy.  She is the reason I persevered with breastfeeding and the reason we taught all of our children Baby Signs (which, if you don't know about, you can read about here).  She held out four years longer than I did in Alaska because she is tough.  So I watched her and her beautiful children and her delightful husband, surrounded by family and friends and love, and tried to take it all in.  To see how she organizes and prepares and accepts help and keeps calm and takes a deep breath and holds her shit together.  And that is what I want to be like.  And I want my children to continue to grow and flourish under our care and to become what her children have become:  caring and capable human beings who aren't concerned or sidetracked by the unimportant, but focused on what matters.  It's quite something to witness.

I returned home to Texas exhausted, but renewed.  The boys went back to school.  Aquaman went back to work.  And I go back to being Momma.  But trying just a little bit harder.  With my eyes on the prize.  Eyes on the prize.