Oh, how I miss those early days. The cuteness was almost unbearable. Little boys in their way-too-big baseball uniforms running around laughing and having fun is one of the most beautiful memories I hold onto. Those times were the best of times.
Having boys was a dream come true for me. I’ve always been a big sports fan and when my boys showed an interest in baseball I couldn’t wait to get them on the field. Picking out their gloves and cleats seemed like such important details that I wanted to get exactly right. Making sure they had all of the right equipment, drinks, and sunscreen, was my top priority.
I wish I could go back and do it all over again…watching them smile when they caught fly balls and get cheered on by their teammates for a nice hit. But if I could, I would mostly do it all over again the same way. Mostly. The one big thing I would change is that I wouldn’t take it all so seriously.
My kids were in a league that was considered competitive even at the youngest levels. They played in the Pony League in Southern California where kids play baseball year-round. They have an All-Star team there for 4 & 5-year old players. Dads there were super serious and would even yell at the kids sometimes.
I thought this would toughen my boys up…make them harder and more competitive, and maybe it did. I remember many, many games sitting in the bleachers with anxiety over what would happen if my son made an error, or didn’t get any playing time. Maybe he would strike out and be upset.
Just Play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.
~ Michael Jordan
Thinking about this makes me take a good hard look at myself. Was it my competitiveness? Was I mortified that my sons would be losers? Maybe a little of both, but I was SO wrong.
I remember moms from back in the day who were so relaxed and just let their kids have fun and play. They just came to the games, chit-chatted with the other parents, and didn’t seem to worry about every little play that happened with their kids on the field. THAT’s the mom I want to be in my do-it-over-again life.
I’m not a bad mom, I just took it too seriously. I let the competitiveness of some of those hardcore dads influence the way I behaved and felt about my sons’ journeys. That was a mistake that I can see now that I’m older and (hopefully) much wiser.
Those are the moms whose kids didn’t get burned out, and annoyed by their parents’ at the games. I see those boys grown up now and in high school, and they are no less skilled or motivated than mine are. And they arrived at that place without all the pushing and lecturing that, at times, I was guilty of.
What I’m saying, Moms, is: Let your kids have fun in sports. Don’t worry about it. It will work out if they want it, because if they don’t, it’s not going to happen anyway. Play catch with them not only for them, but for you, because someday they won’t want to hang out with you that much anymore. And this will improve their skills much more than the worrying.
Kick back and enjoy the sunshine and the good friends you might make at the games and at practice. Enjoy watching your kids love baseball and let them have the feeling that it’s not the end of the world if they’re not on the field every second, or if they make a mistake.
I know all this because I went through it and did it wrong. Not all the time, but enough to have regrets. Now I want to help the next generation of baseball moms to avoid the mistakes I made, and be better. Chill out Moms…you’ll love yourselves for it. 🙂