Hour after hour this time of year is spent supporting our favorites on some field or another. Our hopes and dreams playing out through them while we agonize over every practice and play wondering just what their future holds.
For most, we live each day as if a college scholarship or major league career is on the line. When really, who knows what these little souls will really want out of life? And, will what we are working so hard to do for them really have an impact?
What I do know is that time with them is fleeting. I long to make every moment with them count.
Not necessarily for the glory of the game, but rather for the glory of the One who created them.
Trust me, I still have a long way to go in this parenting journey, but, I do know this. Much can be learned at the ballpark.
A few things I have learned are funny, while others are a bit more serious.
My hope is by sharing these, maybe someone can laugh while at the ballpark and learn from my mistakes. Seeing the bigger picture more often than the smaller accomplishments and defeats.
Recognizing that all too soon the lights of the ballpark may grow dim for your family.
Whether or not this time spent becomes a happy memory full of life-long lessons or a frustrating phase that will ingrain thoughts, ideals and wrong attitudes is really our choice as parents. Being alert, intentional and focused on the long run would serve us all well.
So here it goes.
One crazy mom’s musings from the ballpark.
Maybe you will even chuckle through a few because you, like me, have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt!
- Moms did not invent baseball pants or any other white sports pants. If they had, they would have been orange or a light rusty red with green pinstripes. Any color besides white. Just yesterday I washed one pair four times. Goodness, somebody stop the madness! Coaches choose gray. Every mom on your team will praise you!
- Buy extra pants! And, socks and whatever else you might not be able to wash each night. This is for your own sanity! Hopefully it will cut down on the number of late nights and frantic mornings in your house.
- Take two cars to the game. Unless your family has learned by now not to rehash every single play or error, take your own car. The rides home after those intense, ‘should-have-won-that-one‘ games will wear down even the strongest of families. I wish our family had learned not to talk on the way home, but rather waited until the following day to work through those teachable moments. Twenty-four hours and a little rest can change anyone’s perspective.
- Break out the old crock pot. You can only eat so many hot dogs and nachos. If you have never served your time in a concession stand and been forced to man the fryer, then you really can’t understand the importance of planning dinner for those late nights. Learning to think ahead or adding Zoe’s number in your phone for ‘Family Meals’ on those late nights will serve your family well!
- Pack a bag. Make sure and gear up. Coats. Scarves. Gloves. Blankets. Towels. Sunscreen. Umbrellas. Chairs. Cooler. First Aid kits. Snacks and CASH. And, anything your child might not remember to bring. By the time the season is over, your car will look like Wal-Mart has exploded, but you’ll be prepared. Don’t worry though, if you don’t have it, another parent will!
- On every other night, go to bed early. Our family requires lots of sleep. On nights when we have nothing to do (and, there aren’t many!), we try to have some family time followed by an earlier bedtime. Some nights it’s simply dinner together around the table, while other nights we intentionally spend some time together talking about Jesus. Saying ‘no‘ during busy times to all the ‘extras’ is good for our family. As someone once said, we forget our children are children. If only they had more time to simply play outside. Not every minute of every day needs a plan or an activity.
- Pray before games and after. With your kids and without. Sports can teach us a lot about our children and ourselves. Often the things I have learned about me haven’t been so pretty. I’m competitive. I love for my children to do well. And, I get tired and cranky night after night of being busy. Those really aren’t all that bad as long as I know how to handle each of them. Prayer helps keep me focused on the right things. Prayer also helps keep my children focused on the right things. Teaching them to remember to invite God into every part of their life and that He longs to be included.
- Practicing the Golden Rule in sports and life is always golden. Sometimes that means being silent when I really want to yell at a coach for how my child has been treated. Or, jump up and down because they aren’t in ‘their position‘. Our children are watching, friends. Let’s not give them reason to believe that reacting without thinking is the right thing under any circumstance. Let’s learn to temper our responses and really ‘see‘ the things that matter. Perhaps the child in your child’s position has never had that opportunity before or maybe the coach recognizes they need extra confidence. Thinking of others over our own selfish desires will always lead us to live more like Jesus.
- Little things matter. Every single play in a game is BIG to someone. Not everyone’s child will be a home run hitter or the team star; however, every child deserves to be noticed, praised and encouraged. Some players on the team may not have that special someone to cheer them on. Be their cheerleader. Paying attention to the little things just might be a BIG thing for one little someone.
- You never know who is watching or listening. Lots of talk, drama and gossip can often be found at the center of our children’s sports. We get to choose. We can be the cheerleader or the disgruntled, never-satisfied parent. Our children are learning from our responses. It’s up to us, folks. We can be the ones who make the difference by the example that we choose to set. What do we really want people to see in us? Because no matter where we are or what we are doing, someone is noticing what we say and do. That is such a humbling thought for me.
Yes, the ballpark or the playing field holds many special memories and moments, but just maybe, the best moments are centered around others. Not me. Not my kids. Not a win.
Simply seeing the people there as Jesus sees them.
Grateful for the opportunity.
Thankful for the chance to make a difference.
Humbled that He is there, too.
Watching every play.
Noticing every thing.