Baseball season has started, and both of my boys are playing, as they do every spring. I love watching them play, and it’s even more fun when they do well. But I’m going to be honest; I’m not raising any professional athletes over here in little league land.
I love my children very much. There are many things they do well, but I know for sure that my kids are not going to be the next Justin Verlander or Ian Kinsler. I feel OK about that. That’s why I’m happy they have a coach who isn’t overly strict, doesn’t expect miracles, and allows the boys on the team to have fun. He’s not a pushover, by any means, but he knows my children aren’t the best child athletes of all time, and he’s OK with that, too.
It doesn’t hurt that the coach is their dad.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do get competitive from time to time. I remember one year when my boys played on their dad’s team and they had made it to the championship game. It was a pretty big deal, because my boys are nearly two years apart in age, so they don’t always make the cut-off in order to get to play on the same team. That year, it had worked out so they could be on the same team, and they were in the position to win the last game of the year and become the champions. We were all very excited.
My second born son was one of the youngest kids on the team that year. He had been going through a hitting slump and feeling very upset about it. To make a very long story short, we were at the end of the game and down by one run. We had one last chance to bat and score. Our first batter was up and struck out. Our second batter tried, and he struck out. Next up was my baby. If he struck out, we were done.
My heart ached. I started to sweat. I could feel how nervous he was. I knew he could hit the ball, I’d seen him do it, but he hadn’t had a hit in a very long time. I knew that if he struck out and we lost the game, he’d be crushed.
So many thoughts were going through my head, “Why, why, why does it have to be him? Why couldn’t it be one of the best kids on the team batting? Why does it have to be my child?”
My baby got up from the bench, put on his batting helmet, and walked up to home plate. I thought I might throw up. The first pitch came, he swung.
The second pitch was thrown. My sweet, tiny offspring swung the bat with all his might.
At that very moment, I looked over and saw his coach, his dad, looking on. He caught my eye and I knew then that we were both feeling the same thing deep down in our guts. Our hearts were starting to break for our boy, as we knew how this would end. We were both holding back tears, and simply wishing it didn’t have to end like this.
The pitcher looked on, watching my son intently, wound up, and threw that one last pitch. I crossed my fingers, and felt my heart in my throat.
The ball soared through the air and hit our little batter right in the arm.
“He was hit! He’s hit! Yes, he’s hit!” I yelled as I jumped up and down.
I quickly realized what a lunatic everyone at the game thought I was and sat back down as fast as possible. My baby rubbed his arm, took off his helmet, and ran to first base. His smile was as wide as I’d ever seen.
I began to breathe again, and looked at his father. The look of relief on his face was evident, and again, I knew exactly what he was feeling at that very moment. For a few seconds, I flashed back to the time when that little boy was born, and his daddy and I laughed and cried as we held him in our arms and watched his little pink lips shake as he wailed and wiggled.
Our last batter went to bat and struck out. We lost that championship game 1-0.
My sons’ father and I are divorced, so there was no riding home together after the game and discussing the loss. There was no talking about how nervous we were when our child was at bat at the very end, and the relief we felt when he wasn’t the very last one to strike out. But it was OK. There was comfort in knowing that his dad and I were both pulling for him when our son was out there all alone hoping to keep his team alive for just a little bit longer.
It’s days like that when I remember all the good times and forget about the bad. It’s times like those that the divorce doesn’t matter and I know the only two people who really do matter are the boys we both love and do our best to raise together, but separately.
Divorce sucks, and I’m not going to pretend it’s always happiness and roses. I’m remarried now, to a wonderful man who is also the best step-father my boys could ever have. Despite the obvious divorce "suckage", I feel like we are all very lucky.
I have told my boys many times that although I don’t have romantic feelings for their dad anymore, I will always love him because he gave me the two most perfect gifts I could have ever wanted. He gave me those boys and I will always be grateful. I tell my boys all the time that they got the best of both of us.
So baseball is here once again, and I get to watch my boys play together on the same team with their dad as their coach. My husband and I will be at every game cheering them on and making the very best of this imperfect, sometimes odd, non-traditional family we have created.
Baseball always reminds me that we are all very lucky, indeed.