Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mortar Creek...

Sunlight filtered through the thick canopy above leaving its lacy shadows on the cool flowing water below my feet.  I felt her there in that moment and remembered a conversation from several years ago.  We were on the way to my in-law's house to pick up little David who had spent the night with his Nana.  I passed over a little bridge, green sign at my right marking the name of the little creek below us: Mortar Creek.

"Oh... Mortar Creek.  Your grandaddy used to take us to swim in a Mortar Creek when I was little.  I wonder if that's the same one?"  I can see her looking at me from the passenger seat.  All I see is her face.

"I'm sure it is.  Can't be too many creeks by that name in this area."

I had no idea back then how little insignificant snippets of life would matter so much in years to come when the possibility of new moments were no more.  That's just it... once someone you love is gone, all you have left to hang onto are the old moments.

My husband grew up in the little rural area near Mortar Creek.  He terrorized that creek bed on a three wheeler as an adolescent, and now that he has a son of his own, he has been back down to revisit it, a trailer of four wheelers in tow, to share it with the little boy he loves so much.  Making new memories where so many old ones were created.  They beg me to go riding with them every now and again, but I wasn't raised doing such things.  Creeks and four wheelers and woods are not familiar to me, but every now and then, especially on Father's Day, I agree to go.

Sunday was my first visit to Mortar Creek.  The trip was actually Madalyn's idea, which is in and of itself pure irony.  She is sassy and girly and high maintenance to the core, but she likes to go riding with her brother and daddy every now and then.  I actually like this about her; she won't grow up as prissy as I did which will suit her well when she's older.

The water was crisp and clear, a lovely rock bed below the gentle flow.  And as I rode along on the back of my husband's four wheeler, the father of my two children, I watched the shadows of the sunlight dance with the movement of the water, and I could picture that day so long ago.  My lanky grandfather.  My mother and her siblings, tiny and laughing, kicking, playing in the coolness of the water.  And I felt her there with me.

We stopped a few times along the ride and collected rocks.  We have pea gravel in our beds in the back yard, and Madalyn loves to pick up big rocks when we go different places.  So she and I picked out ones we loved.  I was attracted to the dark ones, some almost black with what I assumed was age.  Perhaps she had touched one of them.  I will never know.  But I will think of her every time I see them.

Memories sometimes so surprisingly and beautifully intertwine, reconciling the past with the present.  And when they do, it's simply lovely.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Confessions of a baseball mom...

Sunday I sat in my comfy chair and watched what could possibly be the last baseball game David ever plays.  The sounds of passion, excitement, anger, frustration along with bat hitting ball and the pop of the glove filled the air all around me.  I floated back through time in my mind and watched myself transform from the baseball mom I once was to the baseball mom I have become.

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.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

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.