Baseball Attire Leads to an Opportunity
Months ago, I was in a Hebrew school meeting and wearing jeans with a baseball jersey and baseball cap. My younger son was wearing his little league uniform. A guy kept motioning to me to get my attention and asked if my kid plays baseball. This guy was recruiting boys to tryout for the Jewish Community Center’s Maccabi baseball team. We exchanged information, went to a tryout, my husband was recruited as a volunteer coach, and I sortof forgot about it. Our older son also went to a tryout, and I sortof forgot about that, too. Coincidentally, I was in another community meeting, and the speaker stopped her presentation and said to me, “Aren’t you the baseball family?” I never really thought of it, but yes!
The Phone Call That Shapes Our Future
Last night, as I was falling asleep, I received an enthusiastic call welcoming our older son, Leo, onto a special baseball team for the experience of a lifetime and are we ready to sign? There are more players than spaces, so we need to commit now. Wow. I was unprepared for this call, as I sortof forgot about it.
I hated my circa 1950s housewife response: “I am so thankful, but my husband is not home.” WTF, Robyn (me)? I wasn’t sure how we would commit to the large expenses involved. Immediately, I told the Coach how unacceptable my answer was to him. I repeated my gratitude and strongly emphasized that this is my decision, too.
I was distracted by my younger son throwing moldy strawberries from the fridge into the sink. The entire moment was surreal. I knew that I was proud of my son making the team, I was annoyed with my anti-feminist response, and I was really annoyed with my younger son throwing food across the kitchen. I was letting negativity override my happiness, and that made me really mad. That is not me. I sensed that it was more than berry throwing getting to me, my hand was forced to let my older son grow and I see that his time is, NOW. And my time to grow is also NOW. We had to accept the literal call and grow, NOW, together.
The Coach asked to speak with Leo. Leo, happily took the call in the bathroom and I was nervously listening through the door. My son is very polite. But like many teens, he is not the best telephone conversationalist. But, because my family speaks on speakerphone, and Leo thinks this is a common practice, their conversation was audible. I was beaming with pride from his athletic achievement but moreso for his character and demeanor. I fast forwarded my thoughts by several years, and I imagined that this moment might be similar to receiving the call from a college coach offering my kid a baseball scholarship. But, that is getting ahead of the gift of time.
Dreaming, Realizing, Role Models & Responsibility
Leo has been playing baseball since he was four. His Dad has coached him for years. And, many of his coaches are our friends. Baseball families become extended family. As a term of endearment, most of Leo’s friends parents are called Coach rather than mister so and so. Once, Leo asked me what one of his coaches did in the professional world. It seemed to me that Leo recognized that a professional backup plan should be considered in case the major leagues don’t come knocking at his door. That was a sad moment of reality for me watching my kid realize that a dream may not become real.
There were many times that we had to have the “Sandy Koufax sat out of the World Series” conversation when Leo was disappointed with us that he had to miss practice for Rosh Hashanah or a game for Yom Kippur. Now, Leo was offered a coveted spot on the Jewish Community Center’s Maccabi baseball team representing our hometown.
Once the sibling excitement and the news of the hour settled down, Leo and I snuggled on the couch. It was our first time sitting on the new couch together. And, we had a memorable moment, while still unable to bounce off the walls like I usually do in excitement, I spoke quietly. I never speak quietly. “Leo, you know I am so proud of you?” Leo’s special smile that comes out at very special times, beamed, “Yes, I do.” I quietly asked him, “How do you know?” Leo stated, “Because you are my number one fan.” I hit a homerun. I asked Leo, “WHY do you want to do this?” Leo told me, “I think it will be fun and I will have a chance to represent the Jewish people.” Oh my goodness, I hit a grandslam in terms of our heritage. The grandparents and the Rabbis should be kvelling.
A Plethora of Firsts are Coming Our Way
With this opportunity, there will be lots of firsts for my firstborn. This adventure is scheduled weeks before the start of his freshman year of high school at a new school. He will be flying on a plane for the first time. He will be visiting the West Coast for the first time. He will be traveling without his parents for the first time. He will be have an experience of a lifetime without me, for the first time. I won’t be there to see all of his expressions, for the first time. As Leo seeks independence, I am seeking strength in growing and letting go, as best as I can.
Leo stopped attending Jewish camps around age 7, attends school in an urban community, and while we try to have regular Shabbat dinners, being Jewish doesn’t come as easily to him as it did for me growing up in an insular community. This baseball opportunity gives Leo a chance to connect with people who have similar backgrounds and interests.
All of the Brody Bunch kids play baseball or softball, and I use baseball as metaphors when talking about life lessons. It’s ironic that a lot of my upcoming personal life lessons will also be centered around baseball.
In my conversation with the Coach, I pulled the mommy card big time: “How are the host families screened? As a hobby, I photograph little league, I am happy to help!” The Coach told me that I could travel with the team! Though, I cannot. The expenses for this journey are too steep, and some of the non monetary expenses include me recognizing that my number one son is growing up whether I am ready or not. I am blessed that he calls me his Number One Fan.
For Me, there WILL be Crying in Baseball
I tell my kids’ teammates, “there is no crying in baseball” it’s one of my favorite baseball expressions. I believe that this Number One Fan (me), is exempt from the mantra, as when the journey gets closer, I will be crying tears of pride for my baseball player.