Most dudes figure out the most elaborate plan that they can to propose to the one that they want to spend the rest of their days with. The hope that is that the public pronouncement and accompanying symbol that will adorn the index finger will sufficiently demonstrate one's love. For some reason, I wasn't that dude in 2001. I don't know why I didn't figure out how to gather all of Nkechi's family and friends in one place so that I could get on bended knee in front of them. Perhaps I was too much of a wimp for such a public display. I do know that I felt I had a good enough sense of our relationship that I didn't need to have the Rock of Gibraltar for her to say yes. In fact, I had no ring at all (click for the whole story). Over the years it became a goal of mine to deliver that public proposal as I felt it was something that the Franchise Player of Team Carroll deserved. My original goal, the ten year marker, came and went and I couldn't quite deliver. As we come up on Year 12, I wanted to make up for being overdue. The celebration of my book launch seemed like an appropriately public event as many of our friends who've embraced us since switching coasts would be in attendance. One thing that I've realized all these years later is that the public proposal when done in the presence of loved ones, is a way to say "Thank you". It's a tip of the hat to recognize their part in keeping the relationship together.
All that said, twelve years of marriage doesn't erase the nervousness that comes with getting down on bended knee and asking the one you love to be your (continued) partner moving forward. My heart was racing and I tried to move slowly so I didn't fall over or drop the ring. Thankfully, unlike the first time I ever asked for her hand, she said yes. Now to start thinking of what to do at the 20yr marker of this journey.
Speaking of journeys, Lil Man's selection to an "all-star" baseball team this summer has fully immersed us into the abyss of Sports Parenthood, a land where the allure of scholarships and the pros become more palpable with each strong throw, hit, or cleanly fielded grounder. I'm shocked at the practice schedule for a seven year old, but he seems to love it, so like most parents I know, I'll have my stadium chair in hand all summer as I cheer him on. I've sworn to keep from pushing Lil Man over the edge into burn out land by swearing these three things. I expect my friends to hold me accountable as you're part of the village.
1. NO year-round baseball (or any other sport) until high school. This baseball road is looooong. Might as well keep it fresh and fun as long as possible. In my own experience as an athlete, I know the cost of being immersed in a sport for so long without a break. I've also seen it as a coach.
2. NO extra "work" with Dad unless requested. There's plenty of practice time. No need for me to add to it to satisfy my ego. If Lil Man doesn't like his performance at practice or a game and wants to take some extra time, then I'm there with my glove. Otherwise, I'm just Dad.
3. NO "coaching" once we leave the field. I know nothing substantive about baseball. I like it that way. I trust the coaches to do their job, so I can just do mine of being the loudest cheering Dad.