Archives For February 2012

I admit it. I use my kids.

February 26, 2012

First comes love. Then, comes marriage. Then, comes baby in the baby carriage. Then, come two more babies. Then, there goes your social life.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I remember my husband and I partying at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge Street after the Nebraska Cornhuskers reclaimed the national football title (1997). I remember receiving phone calls from friends and strangers alike asking me to sub on their softball and volleyball teams. I recall making last-minute decisions to go road tripping without having to line up anyone to take care of our belongings.

But then I blinked. And now everything is different. Not worse…just different.

We just completed a weekend (that’s two days) of watching our boys play seven basketball games with an under-the-weather toddler in tow. And a dog at home to feed and walk. And a whole slew of other responsibilities that, well, just had to wait.

This weekend was not unlike the past three months’ worth of weekends, except for one thing: This weekend I stopped the blender known as our family downtime for a few minutes to reflect. I looked around and realized that our two boys, in their whirlwind of activities, have naturally welcomed new friendships into not only their lives, but also in their parents’ lives. I have used my kids without even realizing it…to make new friends.

Every season starts the same way. We, as the parents of the players, cart our boys to and from countless gyms. We rarely pause to exchange more than a cordial smile and brief hello with one another before our attention is diverted to our children’s inability to keep their shoes tied, drink enough water, and pay attention.

But then the season progresses and we spend countless hours with the same group of parents on the bleachers yelling at our children to hustle and reminding the referees of all the calls they’ve missed. We collectively cheer when everything’s going our way, and conversely commiserate when we struggle.

I have gotten to know more than the names and numbers of my children’s teammates. I’ve come to appreciate that each of their teammates has remarkable people in their lives who care as deeply for their sons as I do mine.

I am thankful for the mom who, despite raising her two boys as a solo parent until her husband comes home from Afghanistan, always remembers to bring my daughter a treat.

I am amazed by the mom and dad who both religiously attend every single game AND practice together, not because they need to, but because neither wants to miss a second of watching their boy learn and grow.

I am in awe of the parents of twins who must congratulate and comfort two boys after every competition.

I am humbled by the mom of the superstar who always plays down her own child’s unbelievable talent in support of the team’s overall good.

I can’t believe that after all these months on the sidelines, after all of money I’ve drained on entrance fees and concession stands, and after all of the wear and tear I’ve put my van and body through carting these kids to B.F.E. and back, I am sort of sad to see the season winding down.

We have had some good memories this year.

Little guys with the huge hardware.

Big boys and bigger smiles.


I received unbelievable news earlier this week from the top-ranking female administrator in athletics at my collegiate alma mater. She called to let me know I will be receiving the school’s Leader for Life award on May 3, an honor that she herself had received in 2007.

To say I was caught off guard is an understatement. In fact, I believe my immediate reaction went something along the lines of, “Seriously?! I thought people had forgotten who I was after I had kids.”

This annual award is given to an individual whose actions have made a lasting impact on women’s sports at Creighton University.

I don’t know why, but hearing this news made me flash back to my senior year of college when a teammate of mine thanked me for everything I did for her. She confessed that she didn’t know if she would have made it through the softball program had it not been for me. I looked at her dumbfounded, completely caught off guard.

She has no idea, but that remains one of the best compliments I have ever received.

I didn’t really think about what I wanted to become post-college other than a wife and a mom (those roles I knew for sure). I was fortunate to secure a job in a field that fit my educational strengths. I could easily answer the question, “What am I good at?” but never paused to ask myself, “What inspires me?” Over the years, I’ve discovered there is a vast difference between those two questions and finding an answer to the latter has become more important to me.

So upon hearing that a committee voted me to be the recipient of an award for having a lasting impact, I felt truly humbled. It solidifies my belief that I am inspired when I can make a connection with people. It reminds me to take the time to thank those who have rallied behind me to help me become the person I am today.

Earlier this year, I asked my boys to build their “walls of importance,” which simply are poster boards that they’ve glued pictures and written words on to symbolize what is most important in their lives. I built one too.

Things I've done that make me happy and people I love who make me complete.

We went through this exercise to remind ourselves that whatever we place on those boards are the things/people we value the most. The boards also serve as a visual reminder to avoid those situations in life that might jeopardize what is important to us.

To quote Oprah, “What I know for sure is that you feel real joy in direct proportion to how connected you are to living your truth.” I don’t think I’m living my truth 100 percent yet, but I’m getting there slowly and surely.

If you care to share, leave a comment about what inspires you.

I know I am solid at a lot of things, but cooking is not one of them. Meal planning, grocery shopping, ingredient mixing, table setting, post-meal clean up…I would seriously prefer to sit through a root canal while having my legs waxed.

To all the natural born chefs out there, my competitive side both envies and dislikes you. I cannot stand it that you are so much better than me in the kitchen. Yet, at the same time, I count my blessings that you are part of my life. Otherwise, I would surely starve or be incredibly obese if left to fend for myself.

My husband bears the brunt of the culinary work in our household. He doesn’t mind it, but I don’t blame him for not wanting to cook every night. On those nights when he wants a hot meal prepared for him, we opt to eat out. It’s not that I don’t try. I do. But I always come back to the same impulse: Eat out because it’s easier.

So here’s a couple of snapshots from our evening out tonight.

Almost every kid is happily waiting for their meal to arrive.

"Sure wish mom could cook like grandma."

I know I’m not alone in admitting we eat out more than we should. Feel free to rat yourself out, if for no other reason than to make me feel better.