Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tennis, Anyone?

     Today is the eve of my children's twentieth birthday.  Twenty... Two-O...  Two more teens.  OK, you get my point. They are leaving the teen years and officially entering young adulthood.  The sad thing is, when you have to tell people that your children are twenty, you can no longer pretend to be a young adult yourself. You are now, officially, middle aged, over-the-hill, on the decline, frumpy, a has-been. That is painful.
     The reality of entering middle-agedom may be painful, but the physical process is even more excruciating.  Today, my son and I engaged in a strenuos one-on-one tennis match.  I, of course, have spent numerous hours at the club playing in suburban tennis leagues, spent numerous denaros engaged in tennis lessons and clinics, spent numerous afternoons competing in grueling club matches, spent obscene amounts of money on really cute and coordinated tennis outfits,  and unfortunately, have not lifted a tennis racquet in the last six months.  My son, on the other hand, has not picked up a tennis racquet in over a year, has not one single cute outfit to play in, has declined lessons since the third grade, and yet he beat be soundly in two out of three sets.
      I couldn't believe he did that.  I am his mother. I carried him in my womb for over six months (OK, he was a preemie, I shorted him three months,  but is he still carrying a grudge over that?). It was the eve of his BIRTH day, the day his MOTHER delivered him into the world, gave him the opportunity to breathe his first breath of life, and what does he do to observe this most sacred of days? He beats me unmercifully.
     Let me state, however, that I made him work for it.  There were more duece games in those sets than you'll see in the front row seats of Wimbledon.  He may have had me on speed and aggression, but old mom here definitely took advantage of all those lessons and had him sweating when it came to finesse and stragegy.  The problem was, however, that those two sets took a much larger toll on my middle aged body than it did on that suppile, young, nineteen-soon-to-be-twenty-year-old body.
    After the first set, I told Bro that I needed to run up to the house for a moment, take a quick break, get a drink of water. Actually, I was sneaking to the hot tub to crank up the heat, anticipating a need for a little therapuetic soak after the match.
      I   would not dare admit to him that after the beginning of the second set, I heard a distinctive "snap" in my neck, and that after that point I could no longer turn my head to the left.  My knees were popping every time I tried to make a net shot, my back had long ago decided to quit functioning and I could no longer twist and bend.   The plantar fasciitis I had spent a year trying to overcome was screaming it's  return in my heels, and the bursitis in my elbow was bulging and throbbing. Bro kept the ball moving cross court, telling me to run for it, make an effort,  keep moving, quit being lazy.  He asked me during the second set if I needed to stop.  It was 5-5 at that point, and I would have suffered a massive heart attack on the court before I gave him the satisfaction of quitting.
     "I'm good," I panted. "Don't think you've got this in the bag.  Old mom here is on the rebound. I'm making a comeback."
      Now, don't think that I don't believe in building the self-esteem of my children and that I wouldn't move heaven and earth to help them become the  mature, responsible, self-actualized individuals they were born to become.  It's just that in this highly-competitive family, the lessons are learned through trial and free rides earn it or you lose it.  If I had quit, let him beat me simply because he could, what glory would there have been in that?
     Actually, I was counting on the fact that he would feel extremely guilty for pummeling his forty-plus-almost-fifty-mother on the eve of his birthday. I was counting on the fact that I had spent all morning cleaning the geese from his hunt, marinating and chopping and preparing the hash he had requested for his birthday dinner. I was counting on the fact that I had assembled, washed, and ironed all the clothes he had deposited  in the basement upon his arrival home from school in December. I was also hoping for a few sympathy shots, but since that didn't happen, at least I made him sweat.
      He beat me, but I made him work for it. 
      I wondered later if it was worth the struggle.  Upon entering the house, I immediately downed three extra-strength ibuprofen.  I spent almost two hours soaking in the hottub, strategically placing the jets on throbbing joints and muscles. I consumed a large glass of wine and enjoyed a steaming shower afterwards. 
     As I sank into the bed, I contemplated whether childbirth and the subsequent child-rearing was as painful and strenuos as challenging your nineteen-year-old-soon-to-be-twenty-year-old-former-football-player-son to a two hour tennis match.  I concluded that childbirth-and-rearing was the easier of the two, but the challenge of that game, the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon with my college-aged son, the laughs and memories we made that afternoon on that court...that was worth all the aches and pains, the swellings and muscle strains, the bursitis and faciitis that  I endured. I knew that each time I rubbed an aching joint, wrapped a swollen tendon, soaked a bruised muscle or tended a throbbing ligament,  I would smile back upon the day that my son left his teenage years, entered adulthood, but chose to spend the day playing with his mom.

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