Play Ball!

Open my calendar and you’ll see a mess of red-and-blue-inked outdoor obligations. It is baseball season. With three of our boys participating on three different teams, it looks like once again the local little league has invaded my month of May.
I first recognized the insanity of little league baseball a few years ago when I received a phone call from my oldest son’s coach.
“I just wanted to apologize,” he said, “for not yet having a second practice scheduled for next week.
Eamon’s team had three games and one practice scheduled already for that week. I thought that perhaps that would be enough practice for a team of 8-year-olds.
I was such a rookie.
As I filled the calendar with Eamon’s team schedule at the beginning of that season, I noticed that his coach had scheduled practices on days when the team already had games.
“We do that,” my son told me in all seriousness. “It’s called pre-game practice.”
Insane, yes, but I stopped fighting the inevitable when it became clear to me that Baseball Madness had infiltrated even my own marriage.
“I thought I’d take the boys over to the field for a little practice,” my husband told me one morning early in the season.
“But don’t they have practice this afternoon?” I protested.
“Yes,” he explained, “This is pre-practice practice.”
Of course it was.
These days, I consider myself a veteran side-fielder. As such, I offer some Baseball Mom Basics for any of you who might be embarking on your own rookie seasons this year:
1. Baseball Moms don’t eat dinner. Not at a normal time and not at a dining-room table like regular people, anyway. They and their children snack on peanut butter crackers and slurp out of juice boxes while squatting on blankets alongside a soggy field. With a little bit of experience and whole lot of relaxing your standards, though, feeding your family on the go can be easy. Did you know, for example, that you can pull together a balanced meal from convenience-store rations alone — a jar of peanuts, a carton of juice, a package of string cheese, a box of granola bars, a bag of cookies, and several packs of gum? All the major food groups are represented. And if any happen not to be, you will be the only one who notices.
2. Baseball Moms can bi-locate. And thank goodness for that. This particular super power comes in especially handy when one child has practice at field No. 1 on one side of town while another child has a game at field No. 2 on the other side of town. Notices sent home by coaches gently remind us, “Please teach the children the importance of commitment by not showing up late, and please show your support with your presence at team events.” No pressure here, but you never do know when your child will be the one who hits the game-winning homerun and/or take a fastball to the head, requiring a trip to the ER and your signature on the consent forms for reconstructive dental surgery.
3. Baseball Moms don’t feel the cold. Having an eternal sense of springtime about them, they stand strong, even in the most frigid of temperatures. Through the arctic winds, they shout things like “Way to watch ’em, Aaron!” and “Nice swing, Jamie!” Just a bit of team spirit will keep us all warm. Start cheering, rookie!
4. Baseball Moms either have full-time nannies at home or they just don’t have any children of the non-baseball-playing variety. It can be rather inconvenient to wear a fussy baby in a sling on the sidelines in a spitting rain and 30-degree temperatures. Also, it can be a bit of a challenge to entertain a throng of oh-so-tired-of-being-here older children with nothing on hand but a forgotten Burger King toy you found in the bottom of your bag, your cell phone, and a handful of dandelions.
5. One final tip for rookies: Enjoy it. I do a fair amount of complaining about baseball, but here’s a little secret: I rather like the baseball season.
I like that my boys so thoroughly enjoy a healthy, outdoor activity. I like that we cheer for our team as a family. I like that after the rush to get out the door comes a mandatory daily slow-down. I sit on a blanket, watching ball. I applaud my toddlers as they conquer the jungle gym. I balance on a swing, hold a babbling baby in my lap, breathe in sunshine, and think, “Thank you God for this. Right here, right now.”

Danielle Bean

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Danielle Bean, a mother of eight, is Editorial Director of Faith & Family. She is also author of My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom (Pauline 2005) and Mom to Mom, Day to Day: Advice and Support for Catholic Living (Pauline 2007). Her blog is a source of inspiration, encouragement, and support for Catholic women of all ages and life stages.

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