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My Seat on the Sidelines

My butt feels like a cold slab of concrete but what do I expect after five hours on hard bleachers. Of course I brought a chair, but early on my 7 year old laid claim to it. Usually I would kick his little butt out and designate him to the blanket on the grass but his two older brothers played in two different baseball tournaments this weekend and I am extra guilty.

“Is it almost over?” he asks from the first inning of the first game to the last inning of the third.

“Almost,” I say, happy, that like a puppy he still distracts easily.

Skittles and pretzel through game one.

Hot dog and Slushie through game two.

Mr. Softee during game three.

As the youngest, it’s his job to join me at these games where his dad coaches and his brothers play because we support each other… and because he has nowhere else to go except where we schlepp him. Nope, life isn’t fair, no one promised him a rose garden and along with the cherries come the pits. Still, I acknowledge that sometimes, especially on the excruciatingly long games, or the cold, drizzly ones, that it sucks for him (and often for me as well) which is why he subsists on a steady stream of guilt foods. It’s disgusting but this is his payment for time served, as well as the cost of my peace of mind.

Our baseball game schedule is obnoxious causing many who don’t engage in youth sports to roll their eyes and sometimes their whole faces. Even myself.

Not that I don’t love watching the boys play. Many days the weather cooperates, the team makes it all look easy, my sons are on their game and every cheer brings me bursts of giddy happiness. But at times it is too much. It’s not just the games and the travel to them. There are the practices, the meetings, the laundry.

Even with all the trips to the snack bar, it’s a lot of sidelining for a 7 year old. Of course he has a bunch of other hostages to help entertain him. Sometimes, they have a catch or stomp up and down the bleachers or sit under them for some shade, ripping pieces of pretzel while they stare at a video game. It’s certainly not the worst way to spend a day.

“Great news,” My husband exclaims on the way home after one son’s episodic tournament of almost champions and the other’s crash and burn fiasco.

I am immediately afraid, sensing a catch.

“They changed the rules for 8U travel,” he booms.

Yup, a catch, and a throw, and possibly a bat to my husband’s head.

He turns around to address our 7 year old, “Hey buddy. You want to play travel ball this summer?”

My son’s eyes light up while mine start the slow rollback. I was sure I had at least one more year. Three boys playing travel means three times the insanity. It means me racing from first to second to third, just dreaming about going home.

I have no idea how I’m going to manage it.

But I do know that I’ll have a chair to sit in.

The newest Legend!

The newest Legend!

Mom on the sidelines

So I’ve been officially banned from the baseball field today.

Apparently I make my kid nervous. That’s what he says. I don’t completely understand it because my husband is the coach, the baseball guy, the one who wants him to play his best and be his best. I of course want that too, but I’m happy just to watch him and his team play, be among friends, hug him when he’s done and go for ice cream. I’ve even been known to bring a book to the game. How am I the intimidating one?

Half the time I’m bitching and moaning that I even have to go. With three boys, it’s all baseball all the time. There’s always another game on the horizon. So why do I even care? Why am I stomping around, huffing and puffing like I’ve just been benched?

Because I’ve just been BENCHED! Damn it. Who wants to be sidelined?!

I feel like I’ve been denied something owed to me as baseball mom; the reward for schlepping them all over, for the mounds of laundry, for the days and nights sacrificed for the game.

And yeah, I love watching him play… well, usually. Sometimes I’m cringing and my stomach is in knots and I kind of want to throw up. And I’m not even the one playing!

Wait a second. I’m having an epiphany over here….

I’m not the one playing. It’s not about me.

Crap. Well that’s annoying.

Fine.

My oldest is my most competitive. He likes to be the hero, the star. We’ve never put those labels on him, but he’s a natural athlete and puts them on himself. And for some reason, his need to impress me just adds to the pressure.

No matter how much his dad and I explain that no one hits home runs all the time, or even most games, that sometimes the balls just don’t bounce your way, his confidence is still wrapped up in his performance.

My middle son is the total opposite. His team has lost practically every game this season by mercy. It’s cover your eyes, slap your head painful to watch, but he still loves having as many people come and cheer him on as possible. He wants to win, but he can laugh about it too. His temperament can take it and move on. He doesn’t beat himself up like my oldest.

I wonder if all goes back to the birth order thing? Firstborns must succeed. Middles must mediate and negotiate (and sometimes throw tantrums). Babies go with the flow. There’s no exact science there for sure, but it definitely holds true for my boys.

A few moms have told me to ignore my son’s wishes and go to the game anyway but I’m not going to do that, at least for now. This is a big game and he has enough mental pressure without me adding to it.

I know it’s easy to say, “It’s just little league.” Or “You won’t even remember this when you’re older.” But whether your 12 or 22, when you’re in it and it matters to you; the pressure is real and should never be minimized.

These teams work hard together and as individuals. They support each other on and off the field. They play to have fun and they play to win.

Of course it matters to them if they lose.

Of course certain games make them more nervous than others.

And of course I will be there beside him even if it’s only in spirit; because my job as a mom is to be my kids’ best cheerleader, no matter where I’m doing the cheering.

jack bball

Shhh… I’ve discovered iscorecast.com, where you can watch the games LIVE on your computer or phone! It’s genius!!