Please bear with me here.
From the time my oldest was 2 years old, he was hitting pitched baseballs in the yard and sprinting around bases on our driveway. When he was three, he was catching and throwing hard with his mitt. When he was five, we put him in t-ball, and then coach pitch, rookie, and A, AA, AAA, and this year, he was a ten-year old in the majors. He throws a 60 mph fastball. This all-star season, he’s pitched 15 innings and thrown 23 Ks. Though he’s not the fastest kid on the team, he hits for power. He’s a remarkable player.
I’m not bragging. I’m trying to set you up for what’s coming.
My kid LOVES baseball. And he’s good at it. And Bookguy LOVES baseball. Bookguy played baseball in college. He’s an excellent coach. When Tweedledum and Tweedledee aren’t on the Little League field together, they’re watching a baseball game together. I learned shortly into dating Curtis that to connect with him, simply use a classic sports analogy and the guy will melt in my palms. Now I have a son who I manipulate in the same way.
But what I want you to know is, sports are a BIG part of this family. As I’ve mentioned here before, even though my shoulder isn’t what it used to be, I still play competitive volleyball. In one league I play in, I’ve gotten two concussions from getting hit in the face trying to dig a ball. Pumpkin is a stud baseball player, and Peanut is a stud soccer player, and the Bean, who has benefited from playing catch with his older brother in the yard, played Rookie baseball as a five year old this year.
Since we attend a private school, sports is the number one way Curtis and I are involved in our community. In the fall, we are on the soccer field. Then from January to July, we spend approximately 15-20 hours on the baseball field EACH WEEK between both of our boys’s practices and games. We have come to know and love the community of kids and parents we play baseball and soccer with. I’ve watched some of these kids grow up. And our athletic teams have taught us unbelievable lessons about work ethic, endurance, getting along with others, listening to coaches, failure and success.
When the all-star season began, we had two family vacations planned. We disclosed this to our coach, who said he wanted Pumpkin on the team irregardless. And then we won game after game after game. It’s been absolutely thrilling. We NEVER expected to get this far. We NEVER thought our team would be headed to the Southern California championships. We NEVER thought we could win State.
But here we are! Could it be any more exciting?!?!?!
Our first vacation was supposed to be this week up at Lake Almanor with my parents. We were able to rearrange that to another week in August. Our next vacation started a few days ago at Forest Home Family Camp. This is a week away where we unplug, sleep in a one-bedroom cabin, play board games, eat milkshakes everyday, ride the zip line, and go polar-bearing in the freezing creek.
Right now, we are at Forest Home. I wrote this post before we left, after we made the very hard decision to miss the next couple of baseball games.
This is what it came down to:
We tell our children ALL THE TIME that baseball is ‘just a game.’ Pumpkin is only TEN YEARS OLD, and he already feels such pressure on him. He’s a perfectionist. He’s driven. He’s a first-born, overachiever. When he’s had hard moments on the mound, I’ve reminded him that I don’t really care much about baseball. I care about HIM.
But what would I be saying to him about our values if we canceled our family vacations for baseball?
What message would I be sending to our other two children who have been looking forward to Forest Home for an entire year if we decided not to go?
Gosh, what a tough choice. We don’t want to miss out. We don’t want to let down the team. We know other people on the team might not understand our choices. We know other people on the team might resent us if we lose. We know we may never come this close to winning a state championship again.
But the message we want to send to Pumpkin: Baseball is not the most important thing in our lives.
If they win these next few days when we are at Family Camp, we play for the championship next weekend. We have a hotel reserved just in case. And in the meantime, we are going to soak up these sweet moments together as a family in the beautiful mountains of southern California. Pumpkin’s going to play wiffle ball on the lawn, miniature golf with his siblings, and be a kid without pressure on him. Coach Curtis is going to read books and toss the football and make a craft with his other two children. Me and Bookguy are going to go for a morning hike and read on the porch of our cabin with the pine trees around us. In a day when youth sports dominate the lives of parents and families, when they’ve taken over Sabbath’s and extra savings, we just didn’t want to prioritize the wrong thing. Our children need to know that there is more to our family than sports.