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!)
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)
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.)
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!)
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!)
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.)
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.