Casey hit double-digits in January. And for his party, he insisted on a soccer tournament - the Casey Dia Soccer Tournament. He picked the name because of the play on "Casey dia" and "quesadilla." He put his friends on soccer teams and they played in a round robin tournament. There were ribbons to signify how the boys played. There was a homemade soccer ball cake. There were cousins and friends and lots of smiles.
Our local pizza place- usually closed on Sunday morning- agreed to provide us food. So we had good pizza and great salad to scarf down after the soccer play and before the cake.
On Casey's actual birthday, instead of cake he opted for frosted brownies. We kept it low key, but we celebrated all the same:
I can hardly believe he is 10 years old already. Sometimes I feel like I blinked and here we are. When I left my big firm job to take a job teaching and directing an academic success program at a law school, I thought for sure people would think I was insane. To jump off the partner track. To walk away from all the money. To leave just when I was really getting the hang of it. And after all the years of sacrifice, just as we were starting to catch up financially. And to do it before I'd finished paying off the student loans.
So I was surprised that I got quite a different reaction. I'm sure there are people who thought all those things and were polite enough to just not say it. But a number of people told me they were proud of me. Called me brave. Said they were impressed that I was making this choice, at this point in my life.
The money was nice. I liked going on vacation every year. But some days, many days, I felt like I was living to get from one vacation to the next. I didn't interact with the kids' teachers. I didn't know the names of the kids on their soccer teams. I felt mostly removed. And that was by design-- Jason was handling the home front, and I had plenty on my plate with work. But I missed it. I looked around and saw another three or more decades of working long hours with limited interaction with my family. I know it's not like that for everyone. But it was for me. I'd watch partners go on vacation -- and then answer emails constantly or set aside 2-3 hours a day to work. And I'd wonder if I'd be resentful doing that for the rest of my life. I don't have an answer to this. Customer service is incredibly important when you're an attorney-- you really can't just drop off the face of the earth for a week. And I thought I'd be okay with that. But then I began to think more about it. I was in law school when Casey and Marcie were little. Which meant I saw them for about an hour a day, four days a week. They don't remember that time, of course. But I do. And now I was sacrificing more time. They had a full-time parent at home. But I was struggling with it. I just kept thinking that I'd blink and they'd be in college, and I'd never really have known them.
What's the point of going through the effort of adopting children you never really know?
Sometimes I miss it. I still dream about practice. I miss the complexities and the competition of it. But I don't regret the decision. At least not yet.
Leave it to me to turn a post about Casey's birthday into a post about me. But the point is this. I have eight more years with him and then he'll be off to college (hopefully). And I want to be here for these eight years. Because Casey is this warm, funny, interesting kid. He is athletic. He wants to make good choices. He is thoughtful about what makes a good friend. And I don't want to miss out on being a part of his everyday world while he grows into a man. Life is just too short. And he is just too cool of a kid.