This morning the four oldest ran in the last cross country meet of the season. For Phoenix, it was the last cross country meet of his life. Cue the violins while I shed a tear or two. I love, love, love cross country. Hands down, it is the best sport for kids to try. The camaraderie and support, the self-esteem and confidence, the chance to see complete strangers cheering, supporting, and encouraging others is something team sports just can't give them. This is the only season that we let the kids participate in two sports at the same time. I don't want them to miss the experience of cross country.
At any given cross country meet, I am a parent that runs more than the kids do. Because of gender and age, I have children in three different races. For each race I hop around from remote spot to more remote spot, cheering everyone on. The kids and I never discuss it, it's just something I do. I used to be a runner, and it was always in those long, empty stretches that voices in my head would start telling me to slow down. I would hear my spent muscles yelling at me to stop. In their moments of doubt, I want the runners to hear positive, encouraging voices. This year, though, because of the Lupus flare I'm currently in and the little boys not wanting to keep up, I did more standing and waiting than normal. For the first time in weeks, I had a few moments to look around.
When did all of these leaves fall?
It made me want to cry.
Just like Cuckoo. The wet leaves and mud displeased him greatly.
I get a bit sad with every season change. It means time is marching on, kids are growing, I am aging, and I will never have this season with my kids at this age doing these things again.
Of course, I always cry at the season-ending city meet. The sheer number of runners, all doing their best, is touching. Seeing the crowd full of parents and teammates encouraging each and every runner that passes, including thunderous applause for the last finishers, makes me tear up. But the tears really start to fall when a whole group of girls from a variety of teams stop running their race to help a girl who has fallen. In a moment like that, a person can completely forget about all of the bad things people say about teens. In a moment like that, you see that the future isn't as dire as many would like us to believe.
All of the kids ran very well, finishing with their best times ever. Even though none of them received ribbons, which are reserved for the top twenty of each race, they were happy.
Talking about crying and being happy, I asked the boys that ran the 5th and 6th grade race for our team to gather for a photo. Without even talking, this is how they posed (Star had already turned around by the time I got my camera ready):
Nothing says "boys" and "fun" like pretending to pee.
So, another cross country season ends as Autumn begins, sneaky little bugger that it is.
Later that day, Phoenix asked me where I was during the meet. Once again, I teared up as his he told me that he was looking me for while he ran. He knows that I'm always in out-of-the-way places, and he didn't see me anywhere. Because I was in the usual spectator places, hidden by crowds of people. Oh, the look on that boys' face about did me in. My boy, who is now taller than me and is maturing into such a good, kind young man, was looking for his mommy. Bestill my heart.
What a gift these children are. All day I'm boo-hooing about changing and growing and aging. Then Phoenix puts it all in place. Yes, things are changing. Yes, the kids are growing, but they still need me. They aren't gone yet. I need to quite crying and keep on cheering.
Have a lovely day!