It started out like any other weekend, except this one would have even MORE baseball than normal. Three of them had some kind of combination of practices, make up games, or tournaments. The planning and schedule juggling took me and The Hubs and every ounce of brain power we both had to figure out. But we did. And it ended up that I would be with Boy #3 the majority of the time, so I'd have to just focus on HIS schedule. It also meant that #4 would be my sidekick through it all. Of course, it never is as simple as "just" baseball so I'm going to explain the progression of what turned me into Psycho Scary Mom on this particular fall weekend.
After school on Friday I gave my usual "do your homework now because we have a busy weekend" speech. Somehow I didn't notice when no one listened. Maybe because we were only in the house for an hour and a half after work before we had to leave again. And that hour and a half included making a meal, finding all of the uniform pieces, walking the dog, and I think I may have squeezed in ten seconds to use the bathroom. Then off to the field. It was a beautiful evening, perfect fall baseball weather. The boys pulled out a win, so what could be better? We headed back home to wash the uniform (and the children) and rest up for an early start the next day.
Saturday morning wake up. Enough time to have some coffee, locate all of the uniform pieces again, drop off an extra kid who happened to stay over the night before, and... back to the field. We were lucky enough to have another nice day, the boys won, and we left happy. That particular day would also include a birthday party for one of the teammates. The whole family was invited and there was enough time between the game and the party to go home and get some things accomplished. Uniforms got thrown in the wash, I ran the vacuum, and I told the boys to shower and do that homework that somehow did not get done on Friday while I ran to Shop Rite for lunch and snack supplies for Sunday's marathon of games. Paul was home, but also involved in some "catching up around the house."
I got home from Shop Rite in time to put the groceries away quickly and grab three of the four kids for the party. We had a great time, lots of laughs, beautiful weather... just an all around nice time. On the way home I made a casual comment about being glad the homework was done because when we got home it would be bed time, since we had to rise early for more games. That's when I heard the "oops" from the back seat. Somehow Boy #3 had forgotten to do his when he got out of the shower. I tried to keep my cool, but firmly said that if there wasn't time to do it tomorrow then he would have to explain it to the teacher and suffer the consequences. Which we both knew was a lie. There would be no way I'd let him go in without the homework.
Sunday morning, up early again to go to Mass before we had to travel about 45 minutes for a tournament. "Tournament." There's something about that word that is appealing, it kind of always sucks me in. I think tough competition, teamwork, grit, trophies. "Tournament." So I started the day in such a positive way. Boys 3 and 4 and I went to Mass. I prayed for a safe trip. I asked God to keep all of the kids safe during the game. I thanked Him for having children healthy enough to be able to play. And then off we went. It was cold. Really cold. The first game started at 9:30. #4 and I went for hot chocolate within the first five seconds we were there. We then proceeded to wrap ourselves in a blanket for the rest of the game. We had gloves on for crying out loud. But the boys won, everyone was happy and we only had, ya know, two and a half hours to kill before the next game. We had packed lunches and actually enjoyed sitting in the sun eating and watching the other games. "Tournament." Competition, teamwork, grit, trophies, waiting, cold.
The second game started around 1:30. We were now on the "shady side" of the field and the temperature was dropping steadily. The game was good, but then seemed to be moving a little slower than usual. Maybe it was my imagination. Maybe it was the frostbite or the umpteenth trip to the snackbar or bathroom with #4. "Tournament." Competition, teamwork, grit, trophies, long game, freezing, trying to amuse a 5-year-old. But we WON! So you know what that means? We get to play a third game! Yes, all in one day! Yes, after that really long weekend! Yes, in 49 degree weather.
So game three starts and it's a pretty good one. Everyone wants the win. It's been a long "tournament." Really, that's just a nice way to say, "Spend your entire day at a baseball field. In 50 degree weather. For 9 hours." Right. So something peculiar is starting to happen during this game. See, I like to watch my kids play. I love cheering them on. I get excited, I do. But mostly I just like being with the other parents, seeing the kids do what they love, and having a good time. But something happened. I was cold. I was tired. I was hungry. I was thinking about all of the things that were waiting for me back home, that still needed to be done. I was thinking about the other two kids' games, the ones I missed while I was here. The game winning hit for one and the pitching debut of another. "Tournament." From here until the end of time that word will now evoke horror and torment for me. "Torment-a-ment." "Torture-a-ment."
So that's what was going on when we fell behind in the game and I was yelling, "Come on boys, get it together." Which in and of itself doesn't sound so bad, but in my mind I think it sounded like, "Get that damn trophy!" Then when the game was tied up and I was yelling something encouraging, but in my mind was, "And make sure we get the T-shirts, too." Or later when we pulled ahead again and the ump blew a call and I blew up with a "Come on, Blue!" Which really doesn't even sound normal to me as I type it. But there I was, wrapped in a comforter, yelling at another adult. Honestly, I don't think anyone even noticed. Well, we lost that game and I'm embarrassed to say that I let my disappointment show. No, I didn't do anything crazy like hit another mom or steal the trophy or threaten the ump or yell at my kid. But I didn't do anything calm either. I didn't congratulate the other team. I didn't tell my son how I liked watching him play today. I didn't thank the coaches. I actually felt like the day was a waste of time. I'm sure that was written all over my face and in my body language. And I was tired, cold, and hungry, but so were the kids and the coaches and the umps and even the moms from the other team, the one that won.
So we went for pizza with a few of the others. We laughed and ate and then I looked at the clock. Son of a... someone still has homework. The 45 minute ride home was quiet. Both boys fell asleep.
We pulled up in front of the house. I woke the boys and sent them in for showers. I decided that #3 could do the homework in the morning, he never really gets a lot on weekends, but I figured I'd check to see what it was and get it set up for him. That's when the blood pressure re-rose. For the first time this year, TONS. OF. HOMEWORK. I called him down as soon as the shower stopped. My heart broke as he sat crying at the kitchen table and I reprimanded him for waiting until the last minute. He worked until, well, too late for a 9-year-old that had been outside for almost 10 hours and I sent him to bed. I went shortly after him.
When the alarm went off on Monday morning I stayed in bed listening to the quiet. Suddenly I had time to reflect. I wasn't cold or hungry anymore (I was a little tired) but not too tired that the day before didn't come rushing back to me in an instant. Not too tired to realize that I did not act in the way that I should have. Not in a way that would make my son proud or represent who I really am. Honestly, I don't even like trophies... just one more thing to dust. And the last thing I need is one more T-shirt to fold. So why did I get so upset?
I woke the boy early to finish the homework. As he sat, bleary eyed at the kitchen table, I sat across from him and apologized. I told him that it was never ok to be a sore sport, it was never ok to blame anyone else for our own misfortune, and not ok to yell at anyone. I told him that I was embarrassed by my feelings even if no one noticed the behavior and that a day doing what you love and being with people you love is never a waste of time, no matter the outcome. But I worry that my actions will have spoken louder than my words. I also apologized for not just "Being the Mom" on Friday and making him do his homework. I let him know in no uncertain terms that this would never happen again with homework. As much as I wanted to blame him for not doing it, it was my fault for not making him.
The homework got done, he ate breakfast, I kept my cool until the departure for school. It was a successful morning. I also apologized to the other parents on the team and, if I could, I'd apologize to the ump and the opposing team. I may work on figuring out how to do just that. When I was leaving school at the end of the day with #4, I made a comment about missing him all day after spending so much time together all weekend and especially snuggled together under a blanket at the games. His response was something like, "Yeah, and we didn't even win. That guy with the beard was dumb, right mom?" Oh boy. Someone DID notice. Someone was taking in everything I did and didn't do that day. We never are behaving in a vacuum, folks. We stopped dead in the parking lot. I gave my best "Mom was wrong yesterday" speech. I littered it with all of the "just a game, play to learn, and work as a team" phrases I could think of. Then I apologized to him, too. I do not want to be raising a poor sport. Again, I hope my words will speak louder than my actions.
"Tournament." Where you can make major parenting mistakes, learn a lot about yourself, and get an opportunity for a real life lesson.
This is why we really play the game-teamwork, friendship, and learning!