Batter Up! (And Hope Mom  Survives)

If my math is correct (which it usually isn’t), I spent about one third of my life as a Baseball Mom.  I can’t say this was ever my plan.  I always liked baseball well enough, but if someone told me in my early life that for around fifteen years (okay maybe that’s not a third of my life), I’d spend most days seven days a week engrossed in the highs and lows and outright drama of youth baseball, I’m not sure what I would have done.  It doesn’t really matter because that’s what happened.

I thought about all this recently on Mother’s Day.  My mom and I were celebrating with a lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  In walked several teams of elementary aged baseball players and their mothers.  I knew they were baseball players because all the boys were wearing their various dirt caked uniforms followed by all the mothers sporting t-shirts for the various teams. I recognized this scene.  It’s Mother’s Day if your son plays baseball.

In youth baseball world, the season stops for no cause even to celebrate and show gratitude to the woman who brought the little slugger into the world.  There is no breakfast in bed or sending mom off to the spa for a little rest and relaxation. No, Mother’s Day is another day on the tournament calendar. 

That’s not to say it’s ignored completely.  Some tournaments include the name “Mother’s Day” in the event name so as to give the impression that this is actually a quite normal celebratory event. At some locations, tournament sponsors even give each mother a single rose upon entering the venue and if they are especially generous a dollar off the entry fee.

Other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual.  If you’re said mom, pray you don’t draw the first or last game of the day.  Getting to sleep in even an extra hour and leave before the sun sets is at least something. Otherwise, sit out on the bleachers for hours on end.  If you’re really lucky the bleachers will offer some sort of covering or one of the other parents will bring a pop-up tent and you’ll be invited to sit under it for shade to help ward off heat stroke. 

Above all else, hope that the weather cooperates.  May is a tricky month. In my Baseball Mom career, I’ve been drenched in violent rainstorms (more than once) and burned in random places on my body that my sunscreen missed. February is also tricky.  They call this “preseason,” and during that part of the tournament schedule, I would wrap myself in several thermal sleeping bags wearing Arctic gear yet still nearly freeze to death. There is a stretch in late March/early April when it can be quite lovely.  These are the days that you are truly thankful to be sitting outside watching young children try to hit and catch a baseball while their parents yell “keep your eye on the ball” when you could instead be enjoying other outdoor activities.

At various times in my son’s baseball career, I’ve been extraordinarily happy and extremely depressed all on a single day depending on the fate of the team.  I’ve eaten some of the worst food imaginable but was happy to have it because there wasn’t another food option outside of the concession stand for several miles along treacherous two-lane roads (and even if there was such a place to eat, I’d be afraid to leave because most tournaments happen in places GPS doesn’t even know exists). I’ve sat in the stands with other mothers who stopped at Sonic along the way so they could sip spiked drinks during the game.  These were also the mothers most likely to break out into somewhat insulting “cheers” directed at the other team’s players (aka children).  They also didn’t hesitate to yell at the umpire (also known as “blue”) when they didn’t like a call.  I never did any of this because I always attended the games stone sober.  I thought setting this example was the least I could do as the Team Mom.

Don’t even ask about the restroom facilities.  I have a mental and emotional block about that.  Needless to say, it was harrowing.

All in all, though, it was a glorious time of mother/son and team bonding.  Do I miss it?

As to the last part, yes, I guess I do.