February 28, 2015: The Oldest Child

Zach and Nick displaying their citations received on our hike outside Denver
Recently in the middle of some light conversation, my oldest son, Zach, brought up my blog topics. He was quick to point out his perception of my favoritism toward his younger brothers.

Although the banter was all in fun, I had to defend myself.

His interpretation was obviously inaccurate. But my 'fly below radar' eldest doesn't miss a beat. I accepted the fact that if we were to count, he would not win as the featured son in blog posts. A funny correlation since Zach is probably is the son I see the most of these days. This resulted in me pointing out that he has the most picture posts on FaceBook and Instagram with all of our Denver outings of recent months.

"Good Lord, Mother, I really don't care" was his response.

Although in jest, the conversation did get me to think about my oldest and our time together. Over the last nine months, I have been able to spend time with Zach without his brothers in tow. This hasn't happened since Zach celebrated his last day as an only child, two days before his third birthday.

Gunsmithing school has recently brought Zach to Denver. He officially holds down the fort for us here, being a full-time resident in our Denver home. As we make the trek to Denver every other weekend, Zach is somewhere in the equation. And it's very nice.

Life is a funny thing as we are dealt unexpected wrinkles and pleasant surprises. Zach became the man of my house after his dad and I divorced. This was smack in the middle of his high school years. Although always a good big brother and extremely helpful to his busy mom, he ran in a dead sprint to Lincoln when it was time for college. For the first semester, we rarely heard from him.

Very independent as a child, his quest to be his own man multiplied once nineteen and no longer a minor. Even as he made a change in schooling, he lived on his own with friends. Although we enjoyed seeing him as a guest, never to one miss a family gathering, Zach enjoys his personal freedom. In my mind, once I delivered him to UNL the fall of his freshman year, I resigned myself to this new stage in our lives together.

And then I was awarded this little life surprise. An 18 month period where I get to see and spend time with my son. Zach's life revolves around full-time gunsmithing school by week and work at a sporting good store on nights and weekends. He is very busy and enjoys the little downtime he has at home. Which happens to be our home as well. This is most I have seen Zach for large blocks of time since when he was a toddler.

As I look back, life was busy throughout Zach's childhood. In retrospect, probably too busy. He played every sport and I had him signed up for most camps and activities offered. In high school, Zach played year-round sports for his first two years. When he came home after school one day his junior year, I asked "What are you doing home?"

It may sound like a silly question, but it was the first time in his high school years that he didn't have a practice or game after school. Then there was the whirlwind of his final two years of high school. They socially busy for Zach and a bit of a blur for me with the chaos I was dealt during that time period in my life.

Dropping him off at UNL did set me on my heels. Where did the time go? Did I allow too much of a chronically busy state in our lives?

Fast forward four years. Life is much different for both Zach and me. Neither would have predicated that I would marry a man from Denver or that Zach would choose a life path outside of Omaha or a traditional four-year college student. We are both happy with our choices and where our our journeys have taken us, but it isn't always easy.

We are both far away from Omaha and from the many distractions that both Zach and I frankly miss. It is interesting that we are each sharing the same feelings, yet in completely different circumstances. And then we happen to be mother and son in the same house every two weeks.

We miss our big circle of friends and all the on-going activities centered around our Omaha lives. We are missing Husker games, Creighton beers at the Link, College World Series fun, family gatherings, weddings and all those impromptu moments we had grown to love with the people we love in a city we love.

Although our circles of friends are not the same and our missed family gatherings are not even the same anymore, but both Zach and I have an extroverted side. We find happiness in connecting with a people we have spent years building relationships. That's the hard part we miss.

The blessing comes in the times we have shared together over these months. It's really been a gift for me. And Zach has done a great job of humoring his mother. He has had his closest friends come and visit. Those weekends have been golden. Although they do their own thing, taking in all Denver has to offer, they have also included me and the Brucker clan on fun festivities as well.

We have gone to Broncos games, Avalanche shoot-outs and hikes. His brothers spending time over Christmas with Blackhawks jerseys in tow was the best. When Nick visited we got ticketed for hiking violations (who knew?). And Zach and I found a Husker bar in Downtown Denver to watch his much cherished Husker football games. Not as good as our seats at Memorial Stadium, but a great second from 500 miles away.

Since I don't have a car here, Zach has been very gracious to cart me around when Garrett is busy with other activities. We run the kids around together on days of 'divide and conquer' and there are a lot of meals and exploring new things not yet experienced in Denver. Although Zach would be perfectly fine hanging out at the house, he has taken very good care of his mother.

Today Zach has a day off of work today. I am going to see if I can talk him into going downtown with me to meet family and friends in town for a volleyball tournament. Garrett is skiing, so I don't have a car. This adventure will be just like the Magical Mystery Bus Tours I would take he and his brothers on as kids. Zach playing my chauffeur is just frosting on the cake.


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