Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tobin is SEVEN.


On Saturday, our big boy--our first baby--turned seven. Each birthday brings with it a certain mix of disbelief and joy. I can't believe he's so grown up, and wow, this kid adds so much happiness to our lives. And it just gets better and better.

2nd career game ball.

Baseball has been a source of fun for Tobin for three seasons now. But for Matt and me, this season has felt different. A lot of parents and coaches seem more competitive. This makes sense because at this level, they are keeping tracks of wins and losses, there will be a post-season and each game is officiated by an umpire. However, it seems that competitiveness sometimes comes at the expense of encouragement, sportsmanship and even skill development. We've heard a lot about players playing "well" during wins and being "unfocused" during losses.

Even in our mild disappointment, we would do well to follow Tobin's lead. He's been as positive as ever, taking it all in stride. One night, he came home from a late game I couldn't attend to tell me about his best "hit" ever. "It went over the pitcher's head, Mom!" he boasted, smiling ear to ear. "But then a player on the other team caught it." So basically, he was very pleased with his own hitting even though it ended up as a pop-out. A couple weeks later, he actually hit a ball very hard and very long, over the left fielder's head, and he was thrilled about this, but not necessarily more than about the aforementioned pop-out. His team has won only a few times this season but Tobin plays hard every game, cheers enthusiastically for his teammates and hustles in and out of the dug-out every time. He's one of the younger players on his team and quipped, "It doesn't matter how old you are; it matters how hard you play." We couldn't agree more.

Tobin's attitude in baseball is similar to his attitude in school. We hardly ever hear a complaint about anything that happens there. Every day is a great day. And that's what much of parenting Tobin has felt like. It's been really easy and pleasant. Sure, he's not a perfect kid. He definitely struggles these days being patient with his younger siblings and seems increasingly frustrated when they "do stuff just to bother me." He's even started using the "B" word in the last year: "bored." But just as I don't expect him to have an entirely easy and pleasant life, I know certain parenting challenges are inevitable too. We all do the best we can, and I just come back to how amazing this parenting experience has been . . . and how grateful and proud I am to be Tobin's mama.

quite a crew

We celebrated Tobin's birthday with a busy, fun day. His little league held their annual fundraiser, a hitting competition called Slug Fest. Tobin squeezed in his at-bats before the skies opened up for a rainstorm. His birthday party at a local play gym followed: two hours of running around with his friends interrupted only by brief pauses for pizza, cake and presents.

happy birthday to tobin!

This birthday is fraught with special emotions for me. Because I was feeling pretty good during this chemo cycle, I was determined to do what I've done before: make Tobin's birthday cake from scratch. I also made some cookies and a fruit salad for him to take to school for his birthday celebration there. I even made extra cupcakes for his party as I feared the cake itself was too small for the crowd. All this resulted in a few late nights for me last week. By Saturday night I was spent, but I found myself thankful that I'd been able to do what I would normally do for one of the kids' birthdays and that my fatigue was mostly due to my sleep deprivation and not so much my chemo. Once again, I find myself cherishing the moments when I feel "normal" in the midst of this cancer journey.

The flip emotional side of it all is thinking about how I never expected to be celebrating Tobin's seventh birthday with a cancer diagnosis--without a hair on my head and with my sixth round of chemo set for just two days later. The weight of my illness--wondering what the future holds--settles most heavily in my thoughts and feelings about my precious little family. And while the mama in me feels the very usual heartache of wanting to slow down time because this kid of mine is growing up too fast, I also find my heart longing for this particular year to pass very quickly. Because I just feel that if we can get through this year, we can do anything. That may not be totally true, but it's what feels true right now. So I hold onto that and hug my awesome seven year old especially tight whenever I get the chance.

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