Sometimes it’s even necessary, to be able to function. Here is one such instance:
It’s just a band concert. Just a trip to the school to sit in the audience while the kids perform. No big deal, right? Not in my world. The last time a school concert was anything but joyful was the first school concert I went to.
Our oldest son was six years old. It was a kindergarten chorus concert and my husband was not supposed to be there. We thought he’d have been deployed before that night but luck was on our side, and he was still home. “I’m so happy I get to be here,” he whispered to me as he snapped a picture of our son. Reaching over to grab his hand, I closed my eyes and savored that moment, that feeling of normalcy, knowing it was not going to last but having no idea that would be the very last time my husband would ever see our sons’ concerts. The very last time I would not sit alone, even if there was someone beside me, for there is no one who will ever love my children the way he did. The way I do.
Through the years I have attended dozens more concerts. In my mind he is with me each time, even though the seat next to me holds someone else. I almost never remember to tell the grandparents. My kids usually need haircuts and it is not unusual for them to be scrambling at the last minute to find dress clothes. But I get them there, and smile through it, and can’t help but enjoy seeing my kids perform.
Last night my sons’ high school held another concert. I started out confidently enough. I even remembered to notify the grandparents a week in advance and bought my boys new clothes, since they outgrow their dress clothes between every concert. Heck, I also went as crazy as to get my one son a desperately needed haircut. This time I would not be unprepared. This time, my kids would not be running in last minute, donned in wrinkled shirts with feet crammed into last year’s black shoes. This time, when I sat alone, I would be at peace because me and the boys have made it through so many dark years into happier times. Ha.
I made it home from work with time to spare. Fed the animals. Fed the two healthy kids and checked on the two who’d stayed home sick. Silently congratulating myself for finally conquering the concert chaos, I went so far as to boil some water, planning to enjoy a cup of hot tea while my darling children dressed themselves. Until the universe reminded me of the perils of pre-celebrating.
Those new clothes I bought? They looked great, other than the fact one son just realized he needed a white shirt, not black. “Don’t worry mom, I’ll still wear this shirt one day and it will still look awesome,” he assured me. And who could argue with that? Time to dig up an old white shirt from the depths of long-abandoned basement bins. If you have ever seen my basement, you will appreciate the challenge that presented. My one son’s tie looked like it had grown a tumor – who knew that’s what happens when a tie goes through the wash? Determined to overcome, he found an iron and attempted to press it out. This presented an opportunity for him to learn the dangers of leaving a hot iron face down on a wooden floor.
Next up, buttoning my other son’s white-enough dress shirt around his wrists and finding him a tie. Because the fact I have bought oodles of ties does not for one moment imply we should know where a single one of them is. My youngest son came to the rescue there, scrounging up a slide-on tie that was too short in the same way his shirt was too big. So at least he balanced out. I held on to the last grips of my sanity as I deftly wiped up cat vomit from the stairs while lint-brushing my shirt. We were only about five minutes late at this point and almost under control. So we were ahead of the game. And then..
“Mom, can you help me? Most kids have a dad to teach them how to tie a tie, but I’m just kind of figuring this out myself. Last time I watched a YouTube clip on it but I don’t have time now.” Ouch. That did it. We worked together to solve the tie dilemma, however imperfectly. But then I tossed my son the keys, asked him to warm the car up, and allowed myself approximately 3 1/2 minutes behind a closed door to wallow in all the feelings attached to being where I am in life.
We made it to the concert in plenty of time for me to save 2 extra seats for grandparents. We all bonded over spending 2 hours folded in half, in seats smaller than the crappiest airline’s coach section. The two students in front of us didn’t seem to mind the seating accommodations, as they spent the better part of the concert doing what horny kids do when given the opportunity to do so. My kids’ smiles melted any lingering blues, and another concert is behind us. Next time I’ll be ready. Maybe.
Barb Allen Is A Gold Star Wife, Author & National Speaker. She's a professional veterans advocate who understands the personal and factual struggles of turning adversity into advantage. But this lesson did not come easily and this upper hand must be diligently maintained. Now, Barbara brings her life lessons to her audiences in keynote speeches and custom programs. She relates to her audiences’ lives and challenges, and teaches them how to become gladiators in their own life’s arena.