816 North Opinion

My way from passive parent to baseball mom

And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.

For the last three baseball seasons, hearing this song meant one thing: On the ride to his game, the kid in the back seat had morphed from 11-year-old jokester to serious ball player. Noah’s pregame ritual included playing the Frank Sinatra album “Nothing but the Best,” in a specific order beginning at “Come Fly with Me” and ending with the one that gave him the swagger he needed to play his best game: “My Way.”

And in my own way, it’s also the sound track of my morph from “Just Mom” to “Baseball Mom.”

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.

The last time I heard “My Way” was a couple of weeks ago. The excited newness of the baseball season had long worn off, the team’s record was part of their history and there was only one more game to play.

I’ve been the mom to baseball players for 14 years. When my oldest son, Luke, started playing at 4, I quickly learned that baseball-parenting wasn’t all that fun. Practices were boring, T-ball games had moments of cute. But overall? Also boring. When my husband decided to coach Luke’s team I was more than happy to play second fiddle.

I was not a very enthusiastic fiddle.

T-ball to coach pitch to machine pitch to kid pitch — I went to the games and picked-up the parent lingo.

“Good eye!” “Nice cut!” “You’ve got this!” All of which I spoke, not yelled, at the right time. Mostly.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew,

When I bit off more than I could chew.

It was inevitable that son No. 2 would follow his brother onto the field and I began what I personally considered my path of most resistance. With Son No. 1 and my husband on a team of their own, Noah’s baseball participation was all on me.

T-ball to coach pitch to machine pitch to kid pitch, I bundled in a blanket when practices began in early spring, chose shorts to conceal bleacher-butt sweat through the games of summer, then bundled again for fall ball.

But through it all, when there was doubt,

I ate it up and spit it out.

But I was a dutiful mom: I sat, repeating my cheering mantras while picking field dirt out of my eyes and teeth. There were games that I hated. Truly hated. Sports skills are hard learned and while that’s the point of playing, watching that learning process is often painful.

I read a lot of books; I missed a lot of plays because I was reading a book.

I wasn’t a great ball parent.

And then Noah found his Baseball Anthem music and something changed.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried,

I’ve had my fill, my share of losing.

As we were listening to “My Way” en route to the last game of this summer season, I was surprisingly melancholy. Without any effort I had come to really enjoy the game.

I put down my books and discovered that I had learned the rules through osmosis — the loud cheering coming out of my mouth wasn’t rote phrases, it was happy, encouraging or disappointed commentary.

The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.

Sitting in the ballfield parking lot with Frank hitting the end of his song, I couldn’t remember a specific moment that I went from passive parent happy that the season was over to involved Baseball Mom excited for fall ball — but I had gotten there.

My way.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com .