I'm not going to lie, though- I love it. I more than love it, I FREAKING love it. I love long days at the baseball park with the sun on my face. I love it when the concession stand NAILS the nacho cheese, giving it that slight bit of jalapeno heat that separates the merely average neon orange glop from the truly superior ballpark Nacho. I love looking at my feet after a breezy weekend and thinking "Damn, look at that flip flop tan!" only to realize in the summer that it's not a tan, it's DIRT from the infield that has turned into a resiliant kind of paste when mixed with sweat and the perspiration off an overpriced, underfilled cup of flat Diet Coke. I love smelling like sweat, expired sunscreen that I found in the bottom of my bag, and the aforementioned nacho cheese. Being a baseball mom is a particular way of life.
Or maybe I get too into it. There's that possibility too. To be honest, I make most of it up along the way, kind of like how I parent, how I cook, and how I explain tricky subjects like reproduction, or the NSA. We pretty much fell into being sports parents without realizing what we were doing or what was going on. All we knew was that, when the Ace was three, he saw some kids playing organized football at the park and said "I wanna do that someday." When he was four he said the same thing... so that fall we signed him up.
It was so cute... he was so excited! We waited in line to sign paperwork, and then to get his equipment. They handed me his helmet... that sweet little helmet! The mouthguard! Precious! The pads for his pants... oh, the little pants! The shoulder pads... wait, shoulder pads in flag football? The big guy behind the table tried to hold back the laughter but couldn't quite. "We don't play flag football here. It's all tackle." Tackle football... at age four? Seriously? Have you ever seen four year olds play tackle football in all of that equipment? They kind of run into each other and then everyone falls down and flails around like a turtle on it's back until the coaches run out and pull them all upright again. It's painfully adorable. But he survived, and in the spring he played t-ball with his football teammates, and thus began the cycle we've been in for the past ten years: Football, Holidays, Baseball, take a quick summer vacation because now it's time for football again. I haven't bought a single item of clothing in the past ten years based on something other than it's resiliancy to dirt and how closely it matches our team colors.
We sit in the stands every weekend, talking to other parents, cheering, or, in my case, furiously sucking on Tootsie Pops to keep from hissing at the umpire. What I've learned from those conversations is that I'm pretty sure we're in the minority when it comes to competitive sports parents. It seems like everyone else has had their own glory days in high school or college. They've passed on their stunning athletic genes to their children. They have this interlaced community of Former Athletes That Are Now Parents and Coaches that gather around the concession stands to discuss who is doing what while they wait for their nachos.
My kids.... okay, my kids are lucky they can walk more than ten feet without falling over themselves, and even that can be a toss up some days. The Flake at least has a smidgeon of athletic history... he used to run (and run fast... that bastard would say "I'm going out for a two mile run!" and before I even had a chance to swallow that first mouthful of Emergency Chocolate I Pretend I Don't Have, he was trotting back into the house all vibrant and healthy and happy and shit.) Beyond that, though, he had nothing.... well, except stories that tended to go "Yeah, I started Little League when we lived in California, but then my dad got orders to Iceland and when I got there a windstorm picked up the left fielder and deposited him somewhere in downtown Reykjavic, so we didn't play anymore. That, and, you know, the Russians." I swear, it was always the Russians.
As for me? I didn't play softball or soccer. I wasn't on the swim team. I took dance lessons. Let me rephrase that... I ENDURED dance lessons... or rather, more appropriately, dance lessons endured me. I liked it, the leotard and the soft ballet slippers and tap class where you'd get to do flaps across the wood floor in a very loud, very satisfying way. But I was NOT a dancer. I was cute. I was smart. I had gorgeous, ridiculously long hair that looked awesome on recital night courtesey of sponge rollers and spending the day sitting still. However, despite what the people at LA Looks tried to tell me, great hair DID NOT IMPROVE MY DANCE ABILITY. OK, LA Looks never said that, but they DID say I could be whatever I wanted to be, and that was a freaking LIE.
The worst was tumbling time, the dreaded blue-and-dingy-white mat of shame! We'd pull it out, straightening it in the middle of the wooden floor before going to line up at one end, eight little Mary Lou's.... and me. All the time I was thinking "Can't we just do some more of those flaps? That's fun, right? That noise it makes is pretty awesome!" Meanwhile my classmates were, in their graceful, coltish, seven year old ways, effortlessly cartwheeling and round-offing across the mat. My palms would sweat. My heart would pound. One after the other they'd flip flop across the room while I was having a little nervous breakdown. Finally it was my turn. I'd take a deep breath and stand with my toes touching the edge of the mat. My arms would raise, my eyes would focus....
And I'd do a somersault. A crooked somersault. And not really a somersault either, kind of a sideways roll that somehow ended up with my braid in my mouth and my leotard forty-seven miles up my butt. It didn't end at one, either... I HAD TO SOMERFLOP ACROSS THE ENTIRE MAT.
Oh, the humanity.
So maybe my boys got their athleticism from their father... who knows how far he would have gone in baseball if not for the wind and, you know, the Russians? I will stick with taking claim for their dazzling wit and ability to quote entire sections of Muppet Movies. I haven't made them do any tumbling to see where they stand on that... it's for everyone's safety, really.