4:30 am Saturday:
“Wake up, Jake! Last call!!” I shout upstairs. This is his last chance to get up himself before I pull him, kicking and screaming, out of bed.
If my darling boy doesn’t get his tush out of bed we are going to be late for his soccer tournament at the University.
“I’m up!” He grumbles, shuffling down the steps, already dressed in his uniform, socks, and Nike slides.
I sigh. He’s up. And dressed. Awesome. I restrain the urge to scoop him in my arms. He’s 10 now. Big boys don’t hug their mommies anymore. Or answer to the name Jakey, apparently. I can barely see my Buster Big Boy Baby in his face anymore. Sigh.
He stops his shuffle just inside the kitchen door and gives me a sleepy smile.
“PB toast and apple slices on the counter. Eat while I’m in the shower, okay?” I tousle his messy brown curls, my arms still aching to hold him.
He nods and takes his seat at one of the counter stools.
I wish we had time to chat over breakfast like we did when he was little, but we have a tournament to make. And just like Jacob donned his uniform, it is time for me to don mine.
Also just like I’d laid out Jake’s uniform last night, I’d laid out my clothes just before I tuckered out and tucked in mere hours ago. Yawning, I survey my pick of heather gray yoga pants, a white tank top, and the team mom purple zippered hoodie with “Jake Wittie” and the number 4 in white on the back. Boots or sneakers? Sneakers. Yeah, that’ll do.
I could linger in the shower for hours, but instead take a quick one, throwing one longing look at my soaking tub. One day, my friend, one day…
In less than 25 minutes, I am dressed, my dry-shampooed hair in a strategically messy bun. As I sweep Jake and his backpack of snacks, cleats, chocolate milk and Gatorade out to the car, I realize we still have just enough time to hit a Starbucks drive-thru. Score.
Finally, it is 6:30 and I am hoofin’ it to my spot on the bleachers with the other Brandywine Striker moms. I see my friend Deb across the field. I wave and she waves back. I smirk and dig my cell phone out of my pocket to text her.
“United’s going down, McFadden.” I tease. Her son Matt is the striker for our rival team.
Beep beep goes my text alert. “Oh we’re gonna box now, Wittie.”
She reaches into her bag and pulls out her blue and white MOT United cap. After she pushes it crookedly onto her head, and flips me the bird, I watch as she types furiously with her thumbs.
Beep beep, “United rules. Brandywine drools. Yo.” She pulls up the hood of her blue and white team mom sweatshirt, and I can see her giggling to herself.
I text her, “LOL”, and take a sip of my rapidly cooling Caramel Macchiato.
Beep beep, “Spiked?” Deb asks. I can’t help but smile.
“Not this time,” I type back, “Got a luncheon for Finnian and a sleepover with 4 preschoolers tonight.”
Beep beep, “All the more reason, dammit.” She holds up her water bottle, which I suspect contains more than a splash of Grey Goose Cherry Noir.
The whistle blows and the game begins. There won’t be anymore texts until after the game. Deb & I are two of the very few moms who actually come to watch, and not to show off our designer hand bags.
I watch as my Jake challenges Matt for the ball. The two are pretty evenly matched, but this time Matt gets past Jake’s defense and nearly scores.
“Mark closer, Wittie, dammit!” An irate Dad yells from the first row of bleachers. I hate that guy. He’s just jealous that my boy is a starter and his warms the bench.
“Good pressure, Jake!” I yell louder.
“Yeah, Wittie!” Another mom follows my lead and I feel vindicated. I sit back and relax.
The crowd fills Olympic stadium with roars. Only seconds to go for Team USA vs Team Italy in the Gold Medal game.
I scan the field, or the pitch as they call it here in Jolly Ol’ England, for my boy. I see him finally, centerfield, defending Italy’s best attacker as he attempts to score the tying goal, which would bring this game to overtime.
“USA! USA! USA!” the fans chant, followed by “Wittie, Wittie, Wiiiiiittttie!”
Italy’s Paolo Millardi goes for a banana kick around Jake.
Jake blocks with a back tackle, getting tangled up with Millardi, but sending the ball in the direction of USA’s top striker Matty McFadden.
McFadden leads a demanding counter attack and scores in the last millisecond before the buzzer.
USA wins 5 to 3.
We won the gold. The Gold.
Beep beep. My text alert snaps me to attention. “Earth to Martha. Come in, Martha.” It’s Debbie.
I text back. “Sorry. Game over already?”
“Marth?” Finnian peeks his head into the bathroom to check on my progress. I am just putting the finishing touches on my hair and applying on last coat of mascara.
“Two minutes, tops!” I promise him and hook the clasp on my necklace while slipping into my heels.
We are nearly running late to the retirement luncheon for the founding partner of Finn’s law firm.
I make my way down to the foyer, where he is already pacing nervously. “Ready!” I say with forced cheerfulness.
The luncheon is at some hoity toity country club and I am so not in the mood. But my husband is next in line to make partner, so we have to make an appearance.
“Tie straight?” He asks before meeting me with a quick kiss at the bottom of the stairs. I survey the perfectly knotted grey silk that not too obviously compliments the silver sash on my wrap dress.
“Perfect, as always, my handsome man.” I kiss him again.
He rolls his eyes and makes a face. “Whatever. Let’s go.”
We make sure the babysitter has our cell phone numbers and then we’re off.
We are taking his Cadillac instead of the mini-van and it feels almost decadent. Riding around and listening to grown up music, in a vehicle that’s not riddled with old french fries and gummy bears. I’ll take it. This luncheon thing is starting to seem more appealing.
I relax into the leather seats, stretch out my legs, and listen to the new Mumford & Sons on the satellite radio.
“Let’s just run away…” I kid and Finn laughs. We throw scenarios back and forth highlighting where we’d go and for how long.
Before we know it, we are pulling up to the valet at the club.
Soon, I am standing there, my one and only glass of wine of the day in hand, as my husband and his fellow attorneys talk shop. I take tiny sips, savoring my Sauvignon blanc, not paying a bit of attention to affidavits, burdens of proof, or causes of action. I’m just watching Finn talk, so self-assured and confident. So sharp minded. Sexy.
Our eyes meet over the twinkle of our wine goblets. Finnian is a warrior, a knight new to our kingdom, come to slay the dragon at the request of my father, the King.
“Your eyes sparkle with the light of a million stars, milady.” He flatters me with the truest of chivalry.
“Sir, you are a poet as well as a dragon slayer. ” I demure, lowering my face and looking up at him through the fringe of my eyelashes.
“Aye, your highness, and a dancer.” He puts his wine down on a nearby tray, takes mine and does the same. “Join me for a carol?”
He gallantly leads me to the dance floor, my hand resting gently on his proffered arm.
With expert timing, he and I swirl, turn, curtsey and step through the chain of the dance. Our eyes are locked, our whole selves in tune, even the most casual brushing of arms bringing tender thrills.
The music ends and we bow to each other. Forgetting all courtesy, Sir Finn takes me suddenly by the waist with one strong arm.
“Princess… I cannot resist.” He breathes huskily seconds before his mouth crushes mine in a kiss that rivals song itself.
“Martha?” Finnian clings his pint glass against my wine glass.
“Hmm?” I snap back to reality, “Oh, lunch time?”
“This way, my dear,” he chides and holds out his elbow.
We walk arm in arm to our table, my head rests on his shoulder, and I smile.
I can barely keep my eyes open, but I promised Jocelyn and Vivian and their two best buddies that I would watch their “fashion show”.
I hear them giggling and fussing in the playroom, and I check my watch. Half an hour until I can reasonably get them to try to go bed.
Might be in bed by midnight, then. I yawn so hard tears spring to my eyes.
Jocy tiptoes in the room, and flips off the switch. “Lady and Geddlemens…” She says in her cute sing-songy voice, “Presenting the best fashion show in the wooooorld!” She flips the light back on and pads back to the playroom with the others.
Seconds later, Lola, our 4 yr old neighbor -the oldest one in the group tonight- dramatically struts down the front hall, plastic heels clicking on the hard wood. She swings her hips and her pink feather boa in exaggerated rhythm. She’s wearing the boa, a huge straw hat, a sparkly tank top, the purple plastic shoes, and nothing else except her Dora the Explorer panties. But, she is working it…
Her facade cracks before she makes it to the living room carpet, and she collapses in a giggle fit on the sofa.
Next in is my Vivy, decked out in last year’s Halloween costume- Belle from Beauty and the Beast- and some lime green cowgirl boots, and a fez.
“Vivy… you wear fezes now?” I laugh.
“Yes, Mommy,” she laughs as she skips down her imagined runway.
“Nice. Fezes are cool.” I laugh some more, and watch my adorable girl bounce onto the sofa next to her fellow fashionista.
“Is it my go now?” Grace, Lola’s 2 yr old little sister stage whispers from the play room.
“Yes!” All three older girls yell, exasperated, in unison.
Grace baby steps down the hall in sunglasses, flip-flops, and one of my old satin nightgowns belted with a hair ribbon, the gown trailing the floor so that she has to lift the hem to walk.
“Ta da!” She exclaims as she reaches the living room, then covers her face and giggles shyly before joining the other girls on the couch.
“And lastly…” Jocy calls out, “here comes the bride!” And she step-stops, step-stops down the hall in her dress-up Barbie wedding gown.
My heart falls to my stomach.
“Who presents this woman to be married?” The priest says, and my gut churns. I clutch my disintegrating Kleenex in one hand, and hold onto the back of the pew in front of me with the other.
“Her mother and I do.” Finn chokes out, fighting emotions of his own. He turns to face our girl. He lifts her veil, kisses her cheek, and transfers her hand to the arm of her groom to be.
Finn makes his way to our pew, and takes my hand tightly in his own. We smile at each other, such joy and such sorrow mixed as one in our tear-filled eyes. I feel a brush of an arm on my back, see a quick pat on Finn’s shoulder. Our boy Jacob, now a man with a family of his own, offers us his support.
We are giving away our last baby today. Talk about bittersweet.
The priest asks us to take a seat, and I tuck my arm in Finn’s and look at the lovely wedding party standing so poised and perfect at the altar.
Jocelyn asked her sister to be her Matron of Honor, of course, and was nothing other than thrilled to find out she’d have a 7 month pregnant honor attendant on her special day. Vivian was just glowing in her buttery yellow gown, full of love, and new life, round and happy, and smiling at her twin as the vows began. The other girls, Lola and Grace, beamed proudly in soft pink taffeta as their best friend pledged her troth.
Finally, my eyes settled on my baby girl, my Jocy, and my chin began to wobble with unshed emotion as I listed to her repeat those legendary promises. Girl grown to woman. Woman made wife.
“Mommy? Are you crying?” Jocy bounded into my lap and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Me? Never!” I wiped my eyes and then tickled her ribs. “Who is ready for popcorn?”