Went to Landon’s baseball game yesterday then swung by Walmart to pick up a few things. Nina and Landon were stalking me so every time I turned around in the store, I ran into them. Somehow we ended up in the Sporting Goods section and Landon was looking at the bats. He test swung a couple and told Nina he liked this one or that one. Nina told him to put them all back, that he needed to wait until his dad was with him to help him choose.
I honestly don’t know why – maybe it was the over exposure of watching horrible things unfold on the news this week – but I found myself unusually emotional. At that moment, when Nina told him his dad would help him, it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I really did not want to cry in Walmart surrounded by youth-sized jock straps and the cooler of redworms (yeah, we live in Randleman). All I could think of was my son’s dad never helped him pick out a bat.
Garey played t-ball and youth baseball and basketball and even soccer. His dad and I divorced before Garey was six and for whatever reason, his dad sort of took a leave of absence and decided to pursue other interests (like his own, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). So it was pretty much up to me to raise a son and his little sister alone.
I didn’t know what size bat he needed. Or what type of glove or how to condition a new glove. But I learned. I learned by asking his coaches and the dads of his teammates. I made sure he never missed a practice even if it meant leaving work a few minutes early and eating a bowl of cereal for supper afterward. I learned the rules of the game so I wouldn’t be the mom screaming at the umpire on a fair call.
I took him fishing and had to learn how to bait a hook myself so I could teach him. Ask Nina how well he can bait a hook. He was maybe seven, she was three, and I took the both of them down to the community lake. Garey put an entire nightcrawler worm (about three inches worth) on his hook, rared back to cast and hooked Nina’s cute little yellow and pink sunsuit right at the top button. Nina is hysterical. There’s a three-inch worm attached to her outfit, writhing right under her nose. The hook was firmly embedded in the fabric so the only way to safely remove it and not risk impaling Nina was to take off the outfit. She’s still hysterical, I’m trying to get her clothes off, Garey’s trying to control the fishing rod still attached to his screaming little sister…okay…I’m over my own guilt trip now. That memory has me laughing so hard I can hardly see to type.
I don’t know why I carry any guilt in the first place. It was my ex who chose to not be part of our kids’ lives until they were adults. My kids turned out just fine. They’re both kindhearted, super decent adults who turned into super great parents themselves. Garey’s even brave enough to take his little ones fishing. Of course there is the story from last summer when the giant fish jerked little Paisley’s Barbie rod and reel right out of her hands and daddy had to jump in the water to get it back. I think it involved some hand to hand combat with the man-eating fish. This according to Emma and Paisley. Their daddy. My son. Our hero. Yeah. I have nothing to feel guilty about.