The high school girls ran out the door a few minutes ago, reminding me of their plans to attend the boys’ baseball game tonight. As often happens my mind wandered, this time to baseball in general, and then to something I once saw on TV. You’ve probably seen something similar to what I am about to describe.
A guy is in an area designated for practicing. An automatic pitching machine is tossing baseballs at various speeds to him. Suddenly, something goes awry and the machine goes crazy. The man is pummeled with balls, here, there, curve, straight, fast, slow, all at once. He tries to swing the bat to get as many balls in the air as he can, but it’s impossible. He finally dodges the spray of balls coming at him and gets to the machine to turn it off. He adjusts it, fixes it, to slow it down. Then he picks up the bat to try again.
I thought that reminded me of motherhood.
Sometimes, so many things are coming at us at once. This child’s last-minute-because-the-coach-changed-it schedule, that child’s milestone and development affecting him not just physically but emotionally too, a doctor or dentist appointment here, a form or fundraiser there, a performance, game, event, move, note needing attention….a sudden case of the flu, “Oops, sorry Mom, I forgot I need this or that by 3 p.m.,” a sudden injustice that must be handled, but not by you, by the child, a teaching moment that takes far longer than it would if you just handled the thing alone but then your kid wouldn’t learn and grow, a circumstance that comes up at practice, rehearsal, school, whatever, like the errant baseballs from the pitching machine described above. These things come fast and furious. It takes grit to handle them. And it takes wisdom to figure out the only way to get the flurry to stop is to get to the machine and adjust. Slow down. Then take each pitch calmly, one at a time.
The baseballs of life can get out of hand easily. Sometimes, through no one’s fault really, there are conflicting schedules. A game here at the exact time of a concert there, or whatever. Obviously this happens more often the more children you have. One solution is to encourage the kids to take up similar interests. Put all the boys on the same sports team or all the girls into the same studio for dance. This may work for a while but it doesn’t solve the problem permanently. When the conflicts arise, Mom and Dad split their attendances, tag team, or even sometimes miss something. This is just life.
While it is important to support our children in all their endeavors and interests, it is very important we not slide into putting our children’s requests and even sometimes whims ahead of our spouse’s needs, desires, or even simple preferences. Sacrifice is part of parenthood of course, but we can easily raise selfish “snowflakes” if the kids don’t occasionally have to bend and adjust as well, and as rocker Mick Jagger has so succinctly said, “You can’t always get what you want.”
It’s good for our children to see Dad showing deference to Mom’s preferences, or Mom asking and accommodating Dad’s proclivity to a particular schedule or way of doing things. This demonstrates right order to the children, that marriage and family is a ballet of give-and-take, but the children, while loved and treasured and sacrificed for, don’t get to run the show themselves.
Mom and Dad have the financial, spiritual, and physical responsibility, so they also have the privilege and power to direct the family, no matter how old the “kids” become. Once kids understand that, they suddenly become very motivated to become financially, spiritually and physically responsible for themselves. It’s a great motivator for young adults to spread their wings and “step up to the plate’ in the game of their own lives, knowing they can fully direct their lives when they fully take responsibility. But I digress…
My April and May calendars have been full and complicated. It seems like every day there is another conflict to work out or change to contend with. But that’s life. We can pause momentarily to catch our breath and adjust the master machine, but then we have to get back “into the batting cage and into the game.”
Some people will point out that our crazy schedule and life is the result of our choice to have so many children. Touché. This is true.
But my response to that is in a world and culture where so many people work furiously so they can reproduce and raise money, we’ve chosen to focus more to reproduce and raise souls. It’s hard work, it’s messy and not always easy, but frankly, I think it’s a better investment.
As I turn today to the work ahead of me, my rambling thoughts close. Ok, day, it’s time for more. Go ahead, turn on the baseball pitching machine. I’m going to trust God and move forward. My bat is poised.
I’m ready. 🙂