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Parenthood brings many surprises.  In addition to the fact that you can go days at a time without sleep and those D cup boobs aren’t as fun as you thought they’d be, you find yourself engaged in activities you never knew existed.  Between my 3 biological sons and 1 stepson, I’ve spent time marveling (& yes, cringing) at Karate tournaments, shivering in the rain watching competition marching bands, and crying as my house was trashed by Odyssey of the Mind teams.  I’ve also given years of my life to baseball and basketball, neither of which I particularly care for.

As I turned into a person I never saw coming, I became increasingly aware of my good and bad sides.  Those proverbial little angels that sit on each shoulder egging me on have been my constant companions as I’ve tried to do and say the right things for my boys.  For me, these “angels” have taken the form of Judges.  They stand in the background, judging every thing I say and do, even the things I think and desire.  It is not unusual for me to jump at the sound of a mythical gavel pounding judgement in the oddest of moments.

Fortunately, my good judge has been louder than my evil one.  Unfortunately, when my evil judge takes the drivers seat, the results are devastating.  It is because of my evil judge that Team Teal Six was born.

My youngest turned 12 while I was being treated for Ovarian Cancer.  As I’d promised myself when diagnosed, I made it through treatment and put it behind me.  I was living life without the anchor of cancer weighing me down.  It was in the past – as much as a deadly cancer can be.

One day my son came home from a visit with his dad and he was wearing a black rubber bracelet.  I asked him what is was for and he told me they (dad, GF, all my sons) had participated in a walk for brain cancer.  As he gushed about how much fun it was, my Dark Judge popped out.  Smirking with glee, he interrupted my son and said “Well, I think it’s bulls*** that you would all advocate for brain cancer, not knowing anyone with it, while you have a mother with ovarian cancer and none of you have done anything”.

As my Dark side uttered those  words, my good judge was jumping around screaming “NOOOOOO”, to no avail.  It was too late.  The words were out there. I slunk away in shame, aware that my son was taking the bracelet off as I left the room.

One of the harsh realities of parenting is that the words you use hold an inescapable, unbearable weight.  The phrases you use, the compliments you offer and the harsh words you utter are seared into the memory banks of your offspring.  Your words become the silent movie playing in the background of all your children do, all they are.  And, you can’t take them back.  Once they escape your lips they become your child’s reality.  Any attempt you make at rescinding unkind words is met with a “sure mom” that you know means nothing.  Unkind words stay with your child, perhaps forever.

The next day I walked by the living room and saw the black bracelet on the table and my body froze in shame.  The bracelet sat there for 3 days, then landed in the kitchen trashcan.  It glared at me, and I imagined it saying to me “Shame on You”.  As I carried out the trash that night I felt it pulsating, reminding me of my fauxpaux.  Yes, I have read way too much Edgar Allen Poe.

A few weeks later we were eating dinner when my son put down his fork, looked at me and cleared his throat.  Here it comes I thought, and I prepared myself for the outpouring of reprimands I knew I deserved.  He said:

“You know mom, I think it’s bulls*** that you judge us for advocating for anything, when you’ve never done anything to advocate for ovarian cancer”.

Damn.  I was prepared for all sorts of reprimands, like “it’s none of your business what I do with dad” or “maybe we do nothing for ovarian cancer because you’re mean”, but a call to arms?  That never crossed my mind.  Yet there it sat between us, like a taunting toddler staring me down saying “what you gonna do about it?”.

I said the only thing I could say – Challenge Accepted.

On this day our mission was born, and we became teamtealsix.

Teal-The New Pink

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