When I was a kid baseball was an ongoing theme in our home. My brother and I played ball year round and watched the Orioles on TV any night it was on. Whenever we were outside throwing the ball or driving home from a practice or game my Dad would say stuff like, “The secret to this game is that its really more a mental game than a physical one”, “Just keep your eye on the ball” and his favorite, “Pay attention to baseball because everything you need to know about life can be traced back to this game”.
When you’re like eight years old that doesn’t mean much. The only correlation you make between baseball and life is when your Mom says “That’s strike TWO!!!” as she’s yelling at you. Right?
But when you’re a week shy of your 31st birthday and you find yourself sitting in a parking lot on opening night of your oldest kid’s baseball season feeding your crying six-month-old and you are cussing at yourself because you knew this probably wasn’t the best idea, “There’s no crying in baseball” kind of takes on a new meaning.
Opening night had a later game than normal and I had a “Mom feeling” that it maybe wasn’t the greatest idea to venture out, but when your stepson tells you on his own that he understands if you can’t stay, he just wants to see you there….I mean, come on. You give it a shot.
The plan was to go, stay for a little bit and head home. The plan was that she would probably sleep for most of it and we wouldn’t be out too late. The plan was to feed her and give her a bath like normal and get her into some comfy pajamas before leaving the house.
Yea, my plan sucked.
I should have left as soon as I saw the parking situation. If I could have just parked I don’t think it would have been as bad but of course not only was it opening night for our league but also for the football team that plays at the field adjacent to our fields. No parking spots. Anywhere. I ended up parking far away. That’s the only way to explain where I was. Far. BFE. Remote. I now had a crying baby, a game starting in 5 minutes and my husband calling asking where I was. So I did what any Mom does at this point, I started feeding the dragon. As I was feeding her in the random parking lot, the guilt started up. “Why did I do this, I knew it was too late and now I’m in some deserted parking lot with my kid who should be in her bed right now”, “The oldest will be disappointed”, “Should I stay or just cut my losses and get her home?”, “I don’t want her to lose it again during the game but I don’t want to miss it all either, we’re already here”, “But God I’m really tired”….etc etc.
Somewhere in this I started feeling tears well up because I realized how tired I actually was and how mad at myself I was for just not listening to that “Mom feeling”. I snapped out of it momentarily because my mother-in-law called. She was at the field too and coming to find me because my husband sent her. Well crap.
I know some of you probably have horror stories about your mother-in-law and I honestly feel for you because I am one of the lucky ones in that department. My mother-in-law is pretty amazing.
I’m sure I looked a heck of a hot mess feeding my kid in the front seat of our vehicle in this almost abandoned parking lot. It kind of makes me laugh now writing this and it almost made me laugh in the moment it was happening but I was more concerned at the time making it look like this was a normal occurrence on a Friday night for us. Luckily, she knows better and luckily I knew she knew better so I cut the crap and just let it out for a moment. I got through a sentence about just being really tired and another one about not wanting to disappoint any of the kids or my husband before she took the little one and just kind of let me have a moment while saying all kinds of things that you just need someone to say when you feel like a total idiot.
It actually all ended just fine. The baby calmed down long enough for us to drive over to the fields because by this time people were starting to leave from some of the earlier games that had ended. I watched two innings, the baby enjoyed herself, my stepson saw that we were there and he was happy about it and everything was good. I fell asleep before the boys even got home and the baby slept through the night.
The next morning over my coffee I got to thinking about what my Dad used to tell me about baseball being a lot like life. It’s absolutely true……
Take your team for example. Your people. You need your team to lean on. You need them to back you up when you miss a ball, strike out, to take the baby while you cry, whatever. You need to know they’re there if you mess up or have a bad game. They’re there to celebrate the wins with you but more importantly, they’re still there when you lose. Your team is everything.
Sometimes you have a game plan and it just goes haywire. When that happens you don’t just give up and walk off in the middle of the game. You readjust and you keep playing. You finish what you start even if its messy and you’re getting your ass kicked. You finish.
You’re going to strike out more times than you think. Your timing is going to be off, you’re going to take your eye off of the ball at some point and you’re going to miss. So is everyone else at some point. You’re not the only one.
And if things don’t necessarily go the way you want them too, there’s always, always another game coming up.
Our next one is on Wednesday.