As with many American households, spring means baseball at our house. My husband is coaching our older son’s team this time in the rotation and my younger son gets to be on the Cubs with a bunch of his first-grade buddies. And just as each new baseball season begins full of hope, when teams and their loyal fans alike believe this will be the year they win the pennant, I began this, my third Little League season, full of hope that I’d finally get to watch some of the game.
You see, my younger children (the girls) are 3 and 5 now. We no longer have to go to their brothers’ games and contend with nap schedules, feeds, weather that is too cold, too hot, or my personal favorite — when my youngest was not yet mobile but tried to buck out of my arms and into the dirt every second.
The girls communicate now with words more than tears and they love to run and play with each other. And over the years I’ve finally learned that snacks and coloring books will never go to waste.
So when my younger son had the family’s first game this season we were all excited, but none more than me. I set up the little sisters’ tiny lawn chairs next to my big one and my husband helped the Cubs’ manager in the dugout. My older son cheered on the younger boys. It was all good.
As I nestled into my chair, ready for some baseball action, I noticed the cutest 9-month-old baby sitting in a jogger stroller, placid as can be. Recollecting my experiences from the past few seasons I looked at the parents and thought, “You poor things … you’re not going to get to watch any of this game.” And then, of course, as if on cue, my girls started to bicker over which of their identical lawn chairs was better than the other.
We barely got through the first inning when the girls announced they had to go to the bathroom. When we returned an inning later the other parents were buzzing about some great move I’d missed. The girls then wanted to kick their ball around so I pointed to an area where it seemed safe to do so. Within 30 seconds, my younger daughter slipped on the asphalt and began crying loudly … we all know how that can burn. Though the skin on her chubby little knee wasn’t broken she was inconsolable. Only when another mom offered her a band-aid did she calm down. And then, near the end of the game, she sprawled across my lap and finally succumbed to the first nap she’d had in weeks.
Meanwhile, the 9-month old was still in her stroller, happy as could be, delighted by an empty wrapper.
Game over. My son ran off the field, eyes wide, asking, “Did you see my double play, Mom?” thrilling from the game in the way a 7-year-old does. (Of course I didn’t. I was in the bathroom, breaking up a fight or tending to a scraped knee. But I pretended). My older son was just as happy, getting to play big brother to all those younger boys in a positive way. My husband beamed from getting to lend a hand. I realized again how he’s passed on his love of baseball to our boys.
So maybe I won’t get to watch as much of the games this season as I’d thought, but it’s getting easier. And perhaps it’s fitting my son is on the Cubs. Just like the major league version, maybe next year will be my year.