Seven years ago when my first-born son fell in love with baseball, little did I know that I would learn so much about my son, about myself, and about parenting. Little did I know it would become one of the biggest teachers in my life—those baseball games, those practices. Being a baseball mom is so much more than just sitting on the sidelines.
Here are some of the most memorable things I have learned so far:
- Don't blame others. If the umpire makes a bad call, just roll with it. What they say is true: it’s just a game. We actually have nothing to do with it—this all belongs to our kids.
- Move on. When there’s a bad call or a nail-biting error, let it go as soon as it’s over. Baseball is a sport of tremendous grace and balance.
- Come prepared: Essential oils not only keep the bugs away but they can ease the tension you feel when your kid is up to bat or pitching. (This is my favorite for baseball games and I bring it with me everywhere).
- Parenting styles vary but we all love our kids. Let others parent how they will. Observe, but free yourself from judgment.
- Rudeness sucks and being rude to others is a downward spiral. Again, baseball is about grace. Again, this game belongs to the children, not to the parents.
- Always bring food and water. Comfort is key.
- Know that overcoming loss and obstacles is an essential part of life. We can’t protect our kids from this. In fact, trying to do so is only a detriment to them. Remember, our children belong to themselves.
- Support those around you and let them support you. Say hello to the other parents. Break through any barriers that might be apparent.
- Enjoy it. Soak in the sunshine, turn your face to the breeze. Listen to the younger siblings frolicking in the bleachers and in the surrounding grass. Use each game as a time to meditate on your own center as your child moves from dugout to diamond becoming who he is truly meant to be.
In my home, baseball is a game, but it’s more than a game. It’s a tool, a rite of passage, a way we measure the years. It’s a way for boys to be boys and for men to be men, and a way for boys to bridge that gap between boyhood and manhood. It’s a place to practice compassion, grace, patience, and letting go. It’s where we learn about losing, trying, winning, loving, and working. It’s where my boys learn about family outside of the nuclear one, decision-making, and what they want for themselves.
In your home, perhaps it means something else. I know there are daughters that play baseball, and it is not only a game for boys. My daughter is still young and she doesn’t play baseball, but I invite you to share your stories of daughters in baseball in the comments below. I also know that many of us have children who play other sports, and often, the core experience is similar—it is all a constant reminder of what is best said in Khalil Gibran’s timeless poem, The Prophet:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”