What if, in the most challenging and indecisive moments of a day, you had a rally song that would just immediately kick in, surround-sound style? What if a whole team made up of the most perfectly- matched-to-the-need people swooped in and literally carried you in the right direction? A rally song and a dream team. Just the thought of it makes me want to stomp my foot on a wooden bleacher and clap my hands. Stomp, stomp, clap. Stomp, stomp, clap. Do your hear it? “We, will…we, will…ROCK YOU!” inside of a whole gymnasium echoing with a classic, heartbeat-style chant. The power to move mountains, right?
Well, it’s this kind of team, this kind of rally that I more than sometimes imagine as I face daunting, daily challenges, as a mom, as a wife, as a professional, as a friend, a daughter, a sister and just as “I”, the most singular and most important role of my life. Sometimes I need that power to move mountains just to simply turn off the soothing, hot water in the morning shower and step out onto the cold, unforgiving bathroom floor, to leave the “I” role and step out into the “Everything to Everyone Else” role. Stomp, stomp, clap, and with one brave movement of my hand on the faucet lever: water off, game on.
I am more than familiar with being on a team and with rally songs. They are part of the tapestry of my most vulnerable years of my life and therefore, are permanently etched in my mind, my heart, my soul and completely woven into my physical self. Sometimes it is just a little twist of my ankle, or the simple act of lacing up my son’s sneakers, or the smell of Aqua Net hairspray, or the feel of mesh shorts, or the hint of disappointment or the sound of a basketball bouncing on a gym floor and I am instantly transported back to my days of middle school and high school where I was much less of a star athlete and much more just a member of a group of girls on a team…a group of girls who rallied.
And through the years, as I sweated, laughed, cried, soared and plummeted, as I boarded busses, and snapped up my warm-up suit, as I prepared for each practice, I knew that even though a win or loss was inevitably to be decided in more ways than one at the end of each game, I was not alone. And there was ALWAYS a rally song.
While I cannot tell you that I have memories of personal game-winning foul shots or of M.V.P moments, I can tell you that I have vivid recall of what it feels like to need to rally: to be down 10 points in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, to be heading into a game against the best team in the league…on their home court, to be asked to dig deeper and to do better than even I believed I could.
And thank God. Thank God that I knew this so well during those years so that I can revisit it in order to face the tiniest and most outrageously huge challenges as an adult, on and off my home court. I have revisited those days in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in the form of a hospital delivery room, at the receiving end of a phone call delivering less than optimistic news , and when being in the middle-aged “sandwich” of simultaneously taking care of a child and a parent. I am there. And I have assembled my team, dependent on the need.
Sometimes my team has included a best friend and a stranger, sometimes a priest and a rebel, at other times a traditional medical doctor and a naturopathic doctor. And sometimes, some people are on my team and don’t even know it. Maybe it was their kind act or words of encouragement or just simply the good energy they send that makes them an easy pick for any particular team.
Just last week, I sent my 6 year-old son off to his first full day of school, off to an “away game” and off to meet a whole new team, in the form of 16 other baby-faced first graders. As I watched him walk towards the school bus with his bright orange backpack and shiny white high-top sneakers, I couldn’t help but feel a little twinge in my right foot. So as I watched him step up onto those great big bus steps, I placed my hand on my chest and smiled a brave smile. Swallowing hard and feeling flush, I tapped my chest just ever-so-slightly. Tap, tap, stomp…tap, tap stomp. The faintness of a rally song shot up from the ground and swirled throughout my body. And with unwavering rhythm, I turned, walked inside my house and picked up the phone to call the captain of this particular “send your son off to school” team. There, on the other end was a familiar voice. “How did he do?” she asked. “Oh”, I said, “he rocked it”. (Stomp, stomp, clap…stomp, stomp, clap.)
How are you rallying this month? Have you assembled your team?
This installment of “In the (Mom)ent “ is dedicated to Jim M. who was on my “Alright, it’s been more than a year, time to get your butt back to writing” team and he doesn’t even know it. Jim M., a complete stranger, contacted me via email after my second article for the Berlin Patch and shared the kindest compliments and encouragement to continue writing. Thanks to you, Jim!