There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
He hit his first baseball in the yard where we live now. I still picture him, so tiny and determined, standing there in little knit shorts, tongue most likely peeking out just a little from his lips, and his daddy tossing balls to him. He had never hit a moving ball, only stationary off the tee or a golf ball on the ground. He was so proud when he made contact. He was only three.
At five, we signed up for tee ball. He wore his teeny pin striped pants and Yankees jersey. He could smoke the ball of that tee, and he loved every second of it. He learned to field, and he learned the basics of the game. I remember explaining to him as we watched a major league game on TV, "See you want to get them out so that your team can go hit again." The light bulb went off inside his growing brain, and he replied, "OHHHHHH....." It was the beginning of a boy's passion for team play, for the love of the American game. And it was the beginning of this mama's insane passion for her little player, to cheer with reckless abandon, not caring how ridiculous I must have looked our sounded.
There was park ball and all stars. And then there was the start of something new, of travel. Our little group of boys was phenomenal. They were all good, and they all loved to play. And they won. A lot. And this mama found herself completely intertwined in the world of travel baseball. Our whole life was scheduled around it. There were many missed birthday parties and family functions, vacations based around tournaments. But there were many trophies, many triumphs, many highs. And I let myself ride the enormous wave of pride, of fun, living through my son's abilities and successes on the field.
But when David was nine, he wanted out. The key player wasn't happy. And I was devastated. How could he give up on me????
Oh how I have been humbled as a mother. How much I have learned through watching my son play baseball. You see, there's nothing wrong with enjoying my son's sports, but when my own joy is at the forefront of my mind instead of his, when I am seeking my own gratification through anything he does, it's wrong.
After three very successful season of travel ball which included two world series and three state championships, David bowed out. He played park ball for a year, and he thought he was completely over the sport at the end of that season, but another opportunity to play presented itself. This season was filled to the brim (perhaps overflowing) with its own challenges, most of which I am not willing to discuss in such an open forum as this blog. The team lost a lot. David struggled deeply with his confidence. But I watched as he began to stand on his own, began to smile again, began to enjoy the sport in the same way he once did in spite of what was going on around him. And I watched my son take ownership of his pass time. I watched him play for fun, for the love of the game, for himself, not for the praise of any coach or his mom or dad.
On Sunday, before his game started, I told him that of all the seasons he has played, all the games won, trophies and titles earned, this season has made me the most proud of him. He lost his way for a minute, but he battled his way back. He did it on his own. And he looked at me, freckles spattered across the sweet bridge of his nose, and smiled so big at me. And in that moment, he was five all over again. And I felt like a better mama having learned such valuable lessons over the course of six years of baseball.
And I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God.
This fall, David wants to try out for the seventh grade golf team. If he earns a spot, he will focus in that direction. If not, he may play baseball again. Whichever was it goes, I hope he finds satisfaction within himself.