The Mom Who Shows Up

In the early days of our Little League journey, when the bat was bigger than the boy, I never could have imagined the number of days, nights and weekends I would spend at the ballfield over the coming years. The cold March opening days, the hot June playoffs–none of it crossed my mind as I watched that little guy cautiously swing his bat toward a baseball-laden tee.


Ten years later, my wide-eyed six-year-old is now SIXTEEN and playing high school baseball. Once-a-week practices and games have turned into daily practices and multiple games a week, and his little brother has joined him in his love for the sport! Needless to say, from March to June our family spends almost every night at the diamond.


The grind of it all is exhausting. The shuttling back and forth, the times when the boys have simultaneous games, and the late night extra innings take a toll. The fast food dinners are excessive and the family car starts to look like a locker room strewn with cleats, socks, dirt-stained pants and jerseys–and red clay from the diamond seems to be permanently ground into the floor mats.

Some nights, after a long day, I sigh and think to myself that the LAST thing I want to do is go to the field– but I pack up my bag, fill up my water bottle, and show up.


Last night was a cold one. The high was in the 40’s and the wind was gusting fiercely. I bundled up with leggings under my jeans, multiple shirts, gloves, a hat and a puffy parka, and I was still shivering and numb by the third inning! As the sun dipped behind the nearby school, it was so cold I couldn’t fathom how the boys on the field were even gripping the ball! 


My son came out as a relief pitcher late in the game and, heartbreakingly, struggled. I watched him as he became frustrated, and I could see defeat in his eyes as the inning wore on. I yelled and cheered and encouraged from the stands, but as any mama knows, we can feel when our babies are hurting. I saw it in his body language, in his eyes, in his slow trudge back to the mound after each pitch.


The inning finally, mercifully ended. I fought the strong urge to run to the dugout and hug my baby, to tell him it was okay, to make him feel better. I stayed in my seat and saw with butterflies in my stomach that he would soon be up to bat. My mind raced: would he be able to focus? Was his spirit too downtrodden to have the confidence to swing at the ball, which moved so fast my untrained eyes could barely see it? I couldn’t help but think that if he could just get a hit, if he could just get on base, maybe he would feel better. Maybe we could end the game on a high note. Maybe.


I shivered and zipped my parka to my chin, pulling my blanket tighter around my legs. Should I take my numb hands out of my gloves and take a video of this at-bat? I don’t take a video every time–baseball moms know that videos taken at the many games of the season can be both plentiful and uneventful–but this time I decided to get my phone out and see what happened.


I held my breath. 


First pitch: strike one. My heart clenched. 


Second pitch: ball. 


Third pitch: the bat cracked and the ball sailed to left field.


I screamed and jumped to my feet as my baby rounded first and made it safely to second base! A double! I could see his smile from across the field: he was beaming. He stood tall and his chest puffed with pride. All was suddenly well, and my heart soared!


At home later in the evening, I watched the video I had taken. Tears sprung to my eyes and my heart nearly burst with pride as I relived the exciting moment! As I watched, I noticed that while my videography was shaky at best, my cheering was loud and joyful. After the crack of the bat, all you could hear on that video was my cheering, and all you could see was a shaky blur of grass and dirt as I excitedly jumped up and down. 


The team lost, but my baby won. He shook off defeat and frustration, he stepped up to the plate, and he won the day. In that moment, I didn’t care that my toes were numb or that the wind kept blowing at my back. There was nowhere else I would rather be than right there.


There is a double-header tomorrow, and I will show up once again with my blankets and water bottles, sunflower seeds and Gatorade. I’ll be the loudest mom in the stands and my son will know that his mom is there. His mom is proud. His mom is the mom who shows up.

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