For my Boys: Know Who You Are

formyboys

Strong, Brave, Kind

Silly, Wild, Playful

Inquisitive, Driven, Expanding

Loved, Cherished, Wanted

Growing, Challenging, Seeking

Boys, as you settle into this new school year, that is so full of promise and excitement for you both, I resist the urge to go before you and tell everyone all that they should know about you.  I want to send pages and pages of notes to your teachers, letting them know enough about you that they love you and want to see you grow as much as I do.  I want to let them know of your weaknesses so they can encourage you, let them know of your strengths so they can push you, let them know of the children who are mean so they can protect you, and let them know of the children who lift you so they can place you with them.

I want them to know you.

But what I’ve learned, is that the most important thing is that you know yourself.  Those words above?  Those are the words I think of when I think of you.  You are so very different, but so very much the same.  You are years apart and much different people, so each one is exhibited differently and at different times in different ways.  But know those things.  Know you are each of those.

Know who you are.

And when you forget, I will remind you.

 

The Baseball Mom Rules

Our baseball season just wrapped up, much differently than we expected or hoped.  Drew watched the last game from the dugout, with an injured knee, but cheering his team on and still a big part of it.  He’s played through illness and injury, with a bruised and taped hand, with a busted lip, a busted nose, a tweaked ankle, with ibuprofen and with many puffs of his inhaler.  The only games he’d ever missed in 6 years of baseball were when his breathing was so bad he was either in the hospital or about to go in.  So it took a lot to hold him back.  Parenting an athlete is much like parenting in general, with a lot of lessons to share.  So as we wrap up the year and look forward to next season, whatever that may bring,

I thought I’d share my observations, on how to be a good baseball mom.  For those of you just entering this fun season of life, or for those who can relate:

1.  Cheer them on.   Seems simple and obvious.  But so many moms, including myself sometimes often, want to correct them and coach them, and point out what they did wrong.  Let the coaches do that.  You only cheer.  (And hey, if you want to cheer so loudly that no one else can hear and it’s positive?  Great!  Just don’t be offended when I sit on the other side!)

greatestplayer

2.  Be prepared.  From the time they’re little, there are seemingly 1,000 things to bring to the park.  Snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, cooling rags, chairs, umbrellas, entertainment for siblings, cameras, and of course the cleats, bats, balls, gloves, batting gloves, helmets, hat, and on and on and on.  A list will make your life easier.  Especially when you’re leaving the house at 5:45am.  Yep, 5:45am.  (And yep, I’ve been that mom who shows up missing things- including his entire bat bag in the days before that was his responsibility)

2010 Season

2010 Season

3.  Leave the game at the field.  Some great advice I’ve heard from one of our favorite coaches, is to leave the game at the field when you get in the car.  When they’re young, they should just be having fun and not rehashing what happened.  As they get older, they already know what they did right and wrong.  Let them move on.  (I may have been known to break this one and threaten my kid because he didn’t swing the bat in a game.)

2011 SandGnats

2011 SandGnats

4.  Surround yourselves with good people.  The most important thing your kid will learn on the field has nothing to do with baseball.  Find coaches who you want them to grow to be like.  Unless your kid is one of the very tiny % of players who will go on to college or the pros, learning baseball skills is less important than life skills.  And even then, they should be hand in hand.  (We have the best around us.  And sometimes the worst!)

2013 Spring Season

2013 Spring Season

5.  Remind yourself that “It’s a Small World After All.”  Be nice.  Unless you’re in the world of travel baseball, it’s hard to imagine how many people become ugly and personal and hurtful.  But it’s a very small world unless you move far away, and you’ll see each other often.  Heck, there’s a good chance your kids will play together again one day.  (Though please God don’t let some of them end up with us again!)

2011 All Stars

2011 All Stars

6.  Toughen’ up.  Mom, I’m talking about you.  We’ve seen a lot of injuries on the field, a lot of blood, and a lot of tears.  Some of it from our son, and some from kids we love.  Let the coaches handle it until they ask you to come help.  This is a tough one.  But your kid will probably bounce back a lot quicker without you running onto the field.  (I’ve never broken this one- mostly because I’m scared of seeing how bad it is, but whatever it takes.)

last game of Spring '13 season

last game of Spring ’13 season

7.  Let them lose.  Some of the best lessons are in a loss.  Even a losing season.  Our kids are going to face tough times in life, they’re not always going to win.  Let them learn to not give up, to trust their teammates, and to give it their all and still come up short.  They’ll grow.  (I HATE losing!  Apparently I haven’t grown enough.)

8.  Push till it’s time.  Drew loves baseball more than just about anything.  He wants to play at as high a level he can.  He can’t imagine life without it.  But sometimes, he’s not giving it his all or wanting the extra workouts, or to miss something because of practice.  If and when he decides he no longer wants to play one day, I’ll support that.  But until that time, I’ll push him to give his all and be his best.  (“That knee doesn’t hurt that bad!  Come on!”  may have been yelled before I realized the current injury was real.)

9.  Enjoy it.  I love our hours at a ball field.  We’re all together, and my kid is doing what he loves best.  Six years ago we started this journey, with a tiny little four year old who couldn’t tell you which base was which.  Watching him grow into the ballplayer his is today has been a great joy.  Not because of baseball, but because of how it’s helped him grow.

Our immediate plans are to rehab Drew’s knee for a few weeks (hopefully that’s all it takes!) and get him back on the field.  We’ll enjoy a bit of summer downtime too.  But before long, we’ll all be ready to get back to what we love.

And guess what’s next?

Ben starts t-ball in the Fall!  More hours at a field, but back to where it’s all fun and cute.  I can’t wait.

Ben_NLA

Play Ball!

 

 

Dreams

Only about six weeks after Michael’s last hospitalization (on Christmas), the next episode of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, began.  For four weeks, he was up and down, with us knowing we’d inevitably end up here, in the hospital once again.  It’s been over thirteen years of these cycles, and I’m mostly used to the routine and can tell doctors and nurses what the orders are or should be, who to consult, and can recite the medical history in my sleep. 

sunrise view, St. Johns River, Baptist Hospital

But I still hate it. 

I still have the little dreams of things that would make everything more bearable.  I’ve always hesitated to ask God for specifics, because I believe that praying for His will and praying that I can accept that and have the strength needed is what changes my heart, instead of just my situation.  But I’m now praying specifically and selfishly- there is only one possible area of root cause of the CVS that we’ve never explored, and that requires a geneticist.  And getting in to see a geneticist isn’t simple.  So we also need the support of our primary care doctor, and then still only might get in.  After years of having no hope for new things to try and test for, this small glimmer of hope that there could be more than we know, and that could lead to potential new treatments, is big.

That’s my new hope today.

But while I was thinking about that one big hope, I started thinking of other things that I might ask for too.  And while my main prayer continues to be for His will and for strength, I sure would also love:

– chances to go away as a family within a few weeks of the end of a cycle, since that is our highest chance of Michael having enough good days pieced together that we could really enjoy it and my kids worry less about their sick Dad than just about having fun.  (Not really realistic since finances and work schedules don’t play nice with last minute excursions, but maybe one day)

–  more flexibility in work schedules and less commuting hours so I could better balance/juggle the needs at home while still providing.  (I’m fortunate and grateful to work with people who are so understanding of the occasional need to make a hospital room my office, but doesn’t help the daily battle)

–  less fight with disability people to ease the financial burden. (thankful there is some, and thankful for God always providing, but this isn’t a cheap illness to manage)

– hospital rooms with sleeper couches and micro fridges (for a spouse who really can’t leave much, who has had such a room once, it’s the dream!)

Okay, okay, I can deal without the last one.  But God, as I sit beside my husband’s hospital bed once again, I do pray for healing, for strength, for a doctor willing to pursue our last avenue, and for help with finding ways to balance all these things.  You know it’s overwhelming and you know our needs, so I ask that you fill them in ways that we can honor you through.  No matter what you give us, we’ll do our best, but I do pray for these things.  For my husband, my boys, and myself.  Amen. 

If There Were No Valleys

I’d like to write a post about how much better today was than yesterday, some lesson about how a new day brought a new perspective.  In a way that was true, as Michael actually went 12 hours in a deep sleep with no shower or vomiting (shower= even better than meds when he’s sick).  We thought he was turning the corner on this episode.  I even got a few hours sleep, even if it was in a chair.  But that’s a lot better than the night before.

Instead, a new day brought news of my grandmother suffering two strokes in the night.  And my mom, who has been watching the boys while I focus on Michael, needed to go be with her.  But to add to the struggle, her car needed work that she can’t really afford, leaving means taking yet another unpaid day (or more) off work, and of course there was the matter of figuring out how to get my boys taken care of.  I reached out to friends to help solve the matter of the boys, and as I knew they would, faithful friends took that burden away.  There was still the puzzle to figure out of who would take them when, and what they needed, and where they needed to be, but there’s no question of them being taken care of and loved on.  My mom’s car/financial situation didn’t magically resolve itself, and as I write the work still isn’t done and she hasn’t been able to leave yet.  But God will provide, I do believe that.  

Reaching out and asking for help isn’t in my comfort zone.  It’s a phobia to tell the truth.  But I know that I can’t do it alone, and I miss out on so much when I don’t get pushed out of what’s easy.  With our search for Austin and our battle with Michael’s illness, I spend more time asking for help than I’d ever choose to.

But I can tell you this… if I didn’t face these valleys I’d never know the full gratitude of love and friendship.  I would miss the chance to be encouraged by a text, phone call or email that just checks in.  I’d miss a cup of coffee being delivered that wasn’t even asked for but much needed, that warmed more than just my hands.  My kids would miss the chance to know that they can count on others too, that this life is meant to be lived together.  They might grow up thinking church is a place we go, instead of the people who live it.

I’m not crazy, if given the chance I’d skip the valleys.  But since we’re here, might as well look around and enjoy the view.  I couldn’t ask for more.