July 26, 2016


I'm not an astronaut dealing with atmospheric issues and stressing about whether or not reentry will go smoothly after a trip to outer space.  Nor am I a world traveler obsessing over the possibility of losing a passport and the associated hiccoughs revolving around reentering my home country in this worse case scenario incident.

My reentry concerns revolve around my difficulties coping with life after a weekend out of town.  I took Mini to St. Louis on Friday where she competed in back to back Irish dancing competitions.  Since my summer has been riddled with travels out of town for Irish dancing, college orientation, and a lengthy family vacation, I was unenthusiastic about heading to St. Louis for the weekend.  I did not anticipate returning home would be so strenuous. 

Mini placed in the top half of her competition in Milwaukee the weekend prior to our St. Louis trip.  This trophy registered as a 'win' on more than one level.  First of all, I was greatly relieved that Mini's quest to qualify for the Midwest Championships was successful.  After two, very discouraging, not-even-close results in Indianapolis and Louisville , I feared that I would spend every available weekend this summer chasing from one city to another to try to capture a win.  Secondly, the fact that our upcoming road trip to St. Louis was no longer necessary awarded me inner peace.  Because Mini hoped to qualify for the big dance competition, I registered her for the two St. Louis contests because the deadline popped up prior to her shot at winning in Milwaukee.  I decided to sign her up so that our mission to check this annoying task off of our list wouldn't be interrupted, or at the very least so that I wouldn't be stuck paying hefty late-entry fees.  I explained to Mini that I was willing to eat the non-refundable registration fee, if we could skip the four hour drive.  I admit that although I invested in some private lessons and enforced a daily practice regiment, my confidence was shaky that she could pull it off.  Despite tough competition, her name was announced during the awards ceremony and in an instant Mini and I were celebrating with a tight hug.  Her big trophy was sandwiched between us.

'We don't have to go to St. Louis next weekend,' I said as I exhaled into Mini's ear.  While we sat around for hours waiting for Curly's turn to dance, Mini admitted to me that she was still interested in dancing near the arch.  At first I was baffled.  Gradually I began to accept that the long weekend out of town made some sense.  Mini could dance in a competition without feeling the added pressure of qualifying.  Besides, I had already paid for the registration.  She might as well compete now, knowing that I would be expected to bring her to other contests in the coming months.  Although Mini loves to Irish dance, the stress can take a toll.  I was witnessing a positive vibe from her and I hated to shut it down.  I broke the news to Coach that I felt traveling to St. Louis made sense.  He pointed out that from a budget perspective spending money on a hotel to recoup registration fees didn't add up, but my hotel wasn't too pricey and I assured him I would bring our meals and snacks.  The hotel informed me that they had a microwave in the lobby and a fridge in our room.  Done.

Mini danced beautifully in the two back to back showcases.  She won something each day.  We relaxed with friends at the hotel pool after Saturday's competition, watched TV in our room while eating the dinners that I brought with us, and slept like babies in our separate beds.  Allowing enough time to attach a ridiculous wig to my child's head, navigate the drive to the dancing venue, and waking up my dancer in enough time to be ready without racing is historically not my strong suit.  This weekend I timed everything right and we had ample time to pin on her assigned number and warm up before she was called to line up to get on stage.  Despite the fact that our hotel room was inconveniently located in the farthest possible position from the lobby and I am confident that I was the only guest utilizing the microwave . . . repeatedly, overall it was a good experience.

Curly called my cell from home after Saturday's awards ceremony.  She was crying because Coach had put a movie on for she and Reggie while he went to workout and she had accidentally bumped the remote - shutting down the movie.  She insisted that I share the TV parental code with her so that they could continue their show.  I refused but solved the emergency by informing her about a DVD that I had just borrowed from the library.  'You can watch that movie instead,' I instructed her.  This small interaction in addition to a few text messages with Coach was the limited communication I had with home for most of the weekend.  The break was refreshing.

Coach had texted me asking me to send him cell phone numbers of a few parents who might have a kid interested in using a White Sox ticket.  I didn't mind that I had dodged the White Sox game bullet.  Sitting out in the incredible heat without access to a pool was not my idea of a good time.  I felt a bit bad that Coach needed to find willing game-goers to attend the game that my entire side of the family had decided to attend together months ago.  Coach recruited friends to use the tickets that Mini and I abandoned when we left town.  Additionally, he handed out Laddie and Eddie's tickets because they had opted to caddy.  He was busy tracking down folks with an open calendar while Mini and I trotted down to the distant lobby to purchase ice cream bars from a freezer next to my familiar microwave before our movie started.  Life felt good.

I suppose the 48 hours I was gone could be considered the calm before the storm.  Two and a half hours into our drive home, we ran into a horrid thunderstorm.  I struggled to see the road in front of me, which was made worse as my eyes darted over to the GPS where the minutes I had carefully cruised thru began to re-accumulate in our 'arrival time' window.  Coach was apparently on a conference call for one of his online classes.  Just as the storm started to let up, Tetenka began calling me with insignificant (and I suspected incorrect) information.  He claimed that he had bravely defended a few pieces of pizza so that Mini could eat them when we got home.  For his next trick call, I endured an audibly frustrating chase followed by what I assumed was a wrestling match.  His shrieks of laughter alternated with those of terror.  He tried to convey a message that despite his best efforts the remaining pizza leftovers had been eaten.  Next he alerted me that three trees had fallen down in our yard.  I demanded to speak to Coach, but was told he was unavailable.  The nonsensical phone calls were beginning to make sense.  Fabulous.  If my knuckles weren't already white from gripping the steering wheel, now they were white from being balled up into fists.

We arrived home to the kitchen table scattered with plates and half empty milk cups.  Kids were playing cards in the family room.  Accumulated piles of crumbs littered the kitchen floor.  When I asked Curly if she had (finally) finished her book, Curly screamed at me, 'No!  Because Daddy is fun!'  A bucket filled with dirty water still sat in the corner of the kitchen with a dirty rag in it.  In order to avoid getting stuck in traffic on our trip to St. Louis, I had failed to empty the water after I scrubbed the kitchen floor.  Of course washing the floor on my hands and knees moments before leaving out of town was not originally on my 'to do' list, but Reggie spilled most of a container of orange juice and his clean up efforts were unimpressive.  Kids mouthed off to me when I requested that they help unload our luggage and the cooler from the car.  Mini and Curly were reduced to tears when they realized I would not allow them to stay up past 10pm.  10pm!!!!  To Coach's credit, a load of laundry had been started, but several more begged- at the very least- to be sorted.  Someone with wardrobe challenges after a shower had left a wet towel in a heap atop a stack of clean laundry on the dryer.  Laddie expressed relief that I was home so he could eat a real meal, which reminded me that I would need to hit the grocery store first thing in the morning.  Reggie admitted as he marched up to bed that he had neglected to collect his baseball equipment and uniform needed for baseball camp bright and early the next morning.  No one had been able to figure out what forms needed to be printed off the computer in order for me to fill them out and drop them off with Reggie at the camp.

By the time Coach exited the study after his unexpectedly lengthy, unscheduled conference call, my brain hurt.  Turns out I would take the mile long hike thru a maze of confusing hallways to reach a microwave, so long as it was a microwave that I didn't need to clean- located inside a hotel that changed sheets and picked up towels. I wasn't sure I was ready to reenter my real life.

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