Monday, September 15, 2014

"Life Is A Lot Like Baseball"

A mother’s conversation with her daughter

            My daughter Noelle got married at the age of 30. She was the last of my three children to have tied the knot and as she took her vows I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, “At last, they all have finally moved on”.
            Of course, as with all weddings there were ups and downs with family members and in laws, wedding plan catastrophes and relative disappointments. But nothing would have prepared me for the comment Noelle made on the return of her honeymoon.
            “Mom” she said. “I feel like I got married and you abandoned me.”
            “What?!” I replied.
            “Yeah, every time a situation comes up you tell me to go figure it out. It’s like you don’t want any part of my life anymore.”
            That couldn’t have been further from the truth. I’ve always been there for all three of my children. Noelle was the youngest of the brew. Her brother Jonathan was four years older than her and her brother Jason was 21 months older than Jonathan. I guess you could say that I was always there for them growing up. Figuring things out for them, bailing them out of pretty much every dark corner they backed themselves into. I was a fixer. That was my position and they knew it. But after marriage I figure it’s time to grow up. It took them a little longer than most. Jason married at 32, Jonathan at 30. I married at 20, so in my eyes they were late bloomers. So when Noelle accused me of abandonment I couldn’t have disagreed more.
            “Noelle,” I said, “I haven’t abandoned you, I’ve just taken a seat in the bleachers and am watching you swing at the balls comin’ at ya. And I have to say, you might wanna step up in the box, you’ll have a better chance of hitting one of them.”
            “That’s what I mean Mom, if you took the bat you would hit the ball out of the stadium and I could have been on base already.”
            “My point exactly, you need more practice at the plate. I haven’t left the stadium, I’m here with my Starbucks cheering you on. You’ll hit it, you just need more practice.”
            Yeah, but I’ve watched you swing and you hit the ball out of the park every time. I could be here striking out forever!”
            “Really, So, you think I was always great at this game? Let me tell you, there was a time when I couldn’t even find my way out of the dugout. And low and behold one day I felt the wind of the ball flying past me as it almost hit me in the head, good thing I ducked or it would have knocked me out. It was then that I got mad, picked up that bat and started swinging. And did I strike out? Absolutely! But I never stopped playing. I swung and I swung and one day I actually hit the ball. I was called out on first but it made me more determined to out run the ball the next time and before I knew it I had made it to third base. Out of breathe, dirt in my fingernails and one ass kickin’ grin on my face cause I knew all I needed was one more base and I would have hit a home run. Nothing would stop me now. Again I took to home plate, and I saw it…this time I would hit a home run. The ball came flying by and I froze, “Ball!” life screamed. I stepped up in the batter’s box, life threw its second ball, I swung and I heard, “Strike One!”  F**k!, I thought. I became more focused, I wrapped my hands tighter around the bat and I lowered my head, focused like a lion getting ready to attack its prey and then… “Strike Two!” “God damn! Please, not another strike out,” I prayed. And then I stepped out of the box, I took a breath, hit the dirt out of my cleats with the bat, relaxed and visualized hitting that damn ball out of the park. More determined than ever I entered the batter’s box, got in position and silently said to that pitcher, “C’mon mother f**ker give me everything you got.” I watched as the ball came at me with lightning speed, and before I knew it my body swung that bat, the bat connected with the ball and I watched as it went over the fence and out of the stadium. My first home run!…finally.
            So I sit in the bleachers sipping my coffee and I cheer for you my darling. I feel your frustration, I honor your intent, and I root for your success. I pray for your persistence, but my time hitting balls for you has ended. It’s your game now. Abandon you? Never. Empower you? Always. There is only one way I can do that and that is to leave you to your game and allow you to play it your own way, in your own time, with the team you pick, and the strategies you come up with.
            Now go practice, find you inner source and put it to work. It’s just a game, have fun and know that no matter what happens there will always be another inning, another ball to hit, another game to play with different players in different stadiums. Hit them one ball at a time, take your time, aim and believe you own the ball, the field and the fans. And remember there will always be one constant…I’ll always be in the bleachers.

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