Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some Relationships Just Aren't Meant to Be ~ Summer Baseball Season Saga

I don't really know how to tell you guys this, but after a month of heart-felt reflection, I think it's time I shared the news: Baseball and I are no longer in love.  No longer a couple.  We broke up, like three weeks ago.  I doubt we'll ever get back together.



It happens every winter.  I start to feel a little claustrophobic in the confines of our "cozy" house. It's our New Year's resolution every year to fight the winter blahs with grit and determination. Steve finds CrossFit and tractor stuff to be useful.  The boys get together and invent indoor games like mini-football, three-limb wrestling, and NBA Nerf dunk contests.  But I, I just spend my "free time" trying to pretend that the bloody nose drips on the couch, shredded carpet and those "I-don't-know-who-did-that" craters in the walls, the ones that flake fine white dust about the house, don't bother me.

No prob, I say.  The distressed look is in.

I divert my eyes from the disasters with the beauty of homemade bread and cookies, and by pinning pictures of other people's pretty, clean homes to my imaginary world a la Pinterest.

Sometime around the middle of February I can't take it any more.  That's when the spring and summer sports schedules start calling my name. They woo me with the ideals of picture perfect daydreams.  I can see it now! There they are, my boys, perfecting the backstroke while I lounge by the pool so proud, so chilled.  Next up, baseball. So All-American in their matching uniforms. All that testosterone being sucked out of my house and onto the ball fields. I love you, baseball. I loooove you!!!
So thankful for muscles.  So darn thankful.

So I do it, I sign three of the boys up for our town's youth baseball program.  The kids can't wait. I can't wait! We're gonna make it through winter, guys!! We've got this! The countdown to April has begun.

The spring thaw has arrived, and it's time for practices to begin.  I. am. thrilled.
So glad I washed those pants so they'd be clean for your game.
Mom, nobody cares if my pants are clean when I just hit a triple. 

My infatuation with baseball's charm begins to weaken (slightly) when son #3 comes home and announces he'll be wearing white pants this season. Wait, what? White pants? Is that legal? Please, Lord, let the others wear black, please, please, please, please, please.

Whew! Black it is. Okay, no problem.  I can handle one pair of white pants.
Andrew's team was stacked with talent and so very fun to watch!

After an enthusiastic evening of practices, the boys come running in the door, game schedules in hand.  I immediately sit down and begin penciling in every event.  Three boys, three different teams, three separate locations, three nights a week for six weeks, topped off with a tournament to really finish the season off right.

After all of the highlighting and abbreviations are carefully noted, there are exactly four squares in the month of June that remain unscathed. Oy.
Proof of life. From the wheat field to the baseball field.

What was I thinking? With farmer Steve putting in long, unpredictable hours of work, how am I going to juggle baby, toddler, baseball and a soon-to-be high schooler who has to be chauffeured to summer league basketball and football camp?

Alright, Susan.  Get your game face on.  You're no quitter.  You are going to make this relationship work. In it to win it.  In it to win it.

After three weeks of running the home team back and forth and back and forth in the snack wagon to game after game, it all started to catch up with me.  I did the thing you don't do in baseball.

I cried.
Though the boys had everything going for them, they each had amazing coaches and fantastic teammates and were all having the time of their lives, I was not having quite as much fun. In fact, I was barely keeping it together.

We were on a rotation of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, and frozen pizza for supper. Mmmm, healthy. Gotta feed those athletes right! 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of malnourishment I have no fear, because other parents bring treats to every game. I confess that I used to cuss the whole treat thing.  

Not this year. Thank you, parents and coaches, for the Oreos and Cheetos. Bless you.

It wasn't just the evening meal and order and structure and cleanliness that was missing from our lives, there was also always a glove, a hat, one cleat, the car keys, the stroller, and water bottles that went missing, too (mysteriously of course).

At the end of every day, all I could say was Jesus, mercy and beer me (as my friend, Kathryn, puts it so honestly).
And Joseph, poor Joseph.  No matter how many Tonka Trucks, tractors or munchies I hauled to the field like a pack mule, he always found the spray of sunflower seed shells at his feet the most alluring thing around. The first time he raised his bulging fist up to his sweet little mouth I about lost my smoothie. I can handle a lot of gross, but that? No. Just no.

Mom, did you see my triple? 
Gosh son, I wish I could have, but I was too busy fishing second hand choke hazards out of your brother's mouth.  But, good job!

Strapping little Goliath in the stroller didn't work all that well either.  My baby was just learning to walk, and the ball diamond was his oyster.  Perfect timing for finding your wheels, son.  Per-fect.

One night, exhausted after the final round of games were over, I just sat in my stinky car, staring at my stinky self in the rear view, when my dearest Henry came around and opened the door for me.
Even the Pope couldn't talk him out of wearing those red socks.
I love Henry's intensity.  His enthusiasm for the game warms my heart.  He is 100% all the time.

Thank you, mom, for taking me to every single one of my games this season.  
I love baseball so much. 
I want to play it for the rest of my life.

Then, he smiled that toothless smile at me, and I scooped him and all of his joy up in my arms, the scent of Gatorade and dirt filling my lungs.

You're welcome, Henry. You're so very welcome.

And, just like that, I knew with certainty that the break-up wouldn't last.

For the love of my boys, I'll never be able to stop loving you, baseball.


  1. I have been mulling a similar but not-so-season-packed post about my daughters soccer seasons. There were only two playing and the 3 yr old had games right after practice and the seasons lasted from mid-March until the end of May. BUT I did coach both teams (one major benefit is that I scheduled them back-to-back on the same night which was awesome) and until pool season got loco my hubby watched the toddling baby at home. However once May rolled around I remember running the big kid practice with the toddler on my hips, a 3 yr old screaming on the sidelines and praying my mother in law would get there (she did) because football arming a toddler while 3.5 months pregnant cannot be a great idea. The other parents did try and help but the toddler was more like a cling-on at the field.

    Also, I remember the 3 yr old having a game at 6:15 (after the 5 yr olds practice) and my husband rolled up in his work truck to catch a glance of the first half and it was back to work for him. Sigh. I have to do a post on surviving that soccer season for sure.

    Though I cannot imagine 3 nights of practice and 3 different games each week - I think we'd being having hot dogs at the field every night! Dinner is tough on practice nights and definitely forces me to put some thought into it - sometimes more successfully than others!

  2. We are becoming a baseball family as well which is totally awesome, but I dread the day that I have to divide myself between TWO let along six?!! Girl, you are totally amazing and such a great mama. They will never forget it!!

  3. Well done! We are a baseball family too. My oldest loves it with a passion that is pure and undiluted. I lost my mind and signed up for a traveling team, and then did the unthinkable, let him do it again next year. THAT will be the last time we travel. I will repeat that until next June. And yes, we love picking up chewed gum, sunflower seed shells, and someone's leftover icee as well.


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