I hold my breath, huddled in the minivan staring at my phone in frustration. The Iscore site that generally gives me the play by play of my oldest son’s baseball game won’t load, so instead I wait impatiently patient for the texts from the other moms to fill me in. They are there in the trenches, their butts numb and frozen to the bleachers on this chilly evening tensely watching our championship game which is down to the final at bat with bases loaded.
The major leagues wrapped it up weeks ago, but we’re still out there. I am using the Royal ‘we’ of course, because once again my son gave me the official ‘hug off’ before leaving early with Coach Dad for warm ups.
“Bye Mama,” He said, his head nuzzled against my chest.
“Have fun,” I answered, squeezing him.
“Are you coming?” He asked, not looking at me; the hopefulness in his voice piercing my heart.
“Do you want me to come?” I asked, equally hopeful but knowing better.
He shook his head, looked up and gave a bashful smile. “No.”
I nodded. I know the score. Apparently I make him nervous. I get that he wants to impress me which is sweet, but also frustrating, especially when you’re hiding behind trees. Still, I generally respect his wishes, especially on freezing November evenings when my younger boys have a birthday party to go to anyway.
But now the party is over and we are minutes from the field, sitting in our heated car in the restaurant parking lot where the team – win or lose – will be celebrating after their final game of this Fall season. The name of the restaurant is Champions. I hope it’s a premonition.
So I stare at the screen willing a text to appear while my youngest climbs back and forth over the seats, and my middle hangs over mine, breathing hotly into my hair, watching with me. The game is a batter away from over. Bases loaded. 2 outs. We are up 5-4. It’s not my son on the mound – he did his stint admirably in the first
4 2/3 innings, but I feel for his mom, shaking in her shoes on the bench watching her boy up there. That is the kind of pressure on your 12 year-old that makes you want to throw up.
It is taking f o r e v errrrrrr! I have nothing to do but whip off text after text to the moms allowed to attend. “I am freaking out!… What’s happening?!…. Come on, Boys!! Do it! Do it!…. ARRRGGGHGhthtghghtitheifrp!!!… Guys!! Tell me what’s happening!!”
Granted they are biting their nails through their gloves, sweating in the 40 degree temps, and their cells screaming silent shouts for attention is not a priority. But they are good to me and after painful, torturous minutes we finally hear, or more accurately see the verdict – WE WIN!!!
I picture my beautiful boy’s joyous face and those of his teammates and friends all jumping on one another, up and down, smiling with pride and relief. It’s the best feeling in the world – winning and knowing you’ve earned it.
And in the bleachers, the dugout and the minivan, the moms and dads exhale.
I am again sitting vigil in the minivan grinding my teeth, the younger boys in tow. Yesterday’s win was awesome but it’s a new day and right now it’s the final cuts for the middle school basketball team.
Forty boys have already been let go, and they are down to the final 20, but only 15 will make the team. It’s dark, almost 6pm, and the parents tensely line up outside the gym, engines humming restlessly, ready to either bolt for home or do donuts in celebration.
Finally the boys emerge, a few at a time and then a mass of long shorts and growing limbs, patting each other on the backs happily. In the commotion and anticipation, you almost don’t notice the random boy sneaking off to the side, his head hung low. There will be five of those boys and my eyes frantically scan the group.
Will he or won’t he? It could go either way.
Then I see him and I know.
I suck my breath in deep, hold it and try not to cry.