I never knew one word would come to define such a huge part of my life as a mother. Seven years ago, I signed my then preschooler up for T-ball. He had been watching his Dad play ball since he was two, and he wanted to join in on the fun. I clicked the YMCA sign-up page, bought a little black and yellow glove and ball set at Wal-Mart, and figured it would be a fun part-time activity for him. Little did I know. On the day of his very first game, we arrived before the start time, but his Dad was running late coming from work. He refused to take the field and said he didn’t want to play, but then his Dad showed up. They headed out to his spot on the field together, he took the most serious stance I had seen him take in his five years of life, and from that moment on baseball became an official part of our family.
In the first couple of years of playing T-ball, things were fairly simple. He would carry his little black and yellow glove and a tiny bottle of Gatorade to his practices and games. The team would all share a handful of bats, and each kid would be assigned a game to bring juice boxes and treats for the team. I can’t help but laugh when I think back on those days in comparison to what baseball life looks like once your kid starts travel ball. Back in those days, I would just grab a few pictures here and there with my phone of him out on the field. Now the van isn’t ready to go for a tournament until my camera backpack, both cameras, all 4 lenses, and a couple memory cards are packed. My passion for photography was fully awakened by his passion for baseball.
Once you become a travel ball family, your family’s calendar has something to do with baseball on it almost every.single. Day – private lessons, team practices, scrimmages, league games, and tournaments. Your kid gets a bat bag that is almost bigger than them, and it is filled with a glove costing ten times what that black and yellow glove did when they started, their very own bat, personalized helmet, multiple bottles of Gatorade and waters, and sunflower seeds (half of which are in the bottom of that bag and WILL find their way on to the floorboard of your van). You start to learn which fields have the best hot dogs, the cleanest bathrooms, and the highest gate fees. You learn more crockpot recipes than you ever knew possible, and you accept that dinner in shifts or on the go is more common than not. You find that you never knew you could feel love for a folding wagon and you have it packed to the brim with sunscreen, bug spray, ice packs, protein bars, water/Gatorade, folding chairs, blankets, and a just-in-case hoodie. You find that you have, without even realizing it was happening, become a diehard baseball mom.
When you’re a baseball mom, you don’t do it alone for long. Your kid joins a team where neither of you knows anyone else, but by the end of the season they have built bonds of brotherhood, and you have become part of a mom squad This squad of fellow baseball moms that know your kid’s number and nicknames, that grab your kid a Gatorade when you forgot to throw an extra one in the bag, that give you an extra blanket when you’re all huddling in the cold and rain to watch the 3rd game in a day. These ladies that were strangers become friends. These friendships span changes of position, changes of the team, whatever life throws. You spend your Mother’s Day with them and share together that seeing your boys win on that day is just a little bit sweeter than the rest. You realize that while your boy is learning the game and making memories, that you’ve all been learning more about life.
Life lessons are learned through baseball. It is always easiest to connect with your child and explain things to them when you can do it in terms that are relatable. For our son, those terms are baseball-related, and there are so many life lessons that we have been able to share with him in his short eleven years because of his understanding and passion for the game. Take life one day at a time, just like you take the game one inning at a time. Life is about progress, not perfection – even the professional’s strikeout, but you try again next time. As long as you have given your all on that field, as in life, you hold your head high and walk off that field with pride – win, lose, or tie. And in this time of uncertainty and postponement of everyday life, we can remind him that the most amazing time in Cubs history came after a 17-minute rain delay. Things may be rough and postponed for now, but we must hold on to the hope that when we get back to baseball and life, it will be amazing and worth the wait. I never knew that baseball would become such a major part of my life as a mother, but I am forever grateful that it has, and I cannot wait to be back out in the sun watching my boy do what he loves and catching every moment with just the right shot.