22 Truths Baseball Moms Know

  1. Baseball dirt does not stay on the field. It will be found in your car and will also come home in your slugger’s cleats, socks, and sometimes even – inexplicably – in his underwear.
  1. Baseball uniform laundry is a serious chore. See above.
  1. Why hasn’t anyone popularized baseball pants the color of baseball dirt? See above.
  1. If your kid strikes out, it’s quite possible you’re sitting in the wrong seat. For the team’s sake, be sure to move before his next at-bat.
  1. If the team won when you wore that blue shirt, you should probably wear it again to the next game. And the same earrings just to be on the safe side.
  1. To reiterate #4 and #5, superstitions have actual power in baseball.
  1. If you know how to keep the scorebook, you will be asked to keep the scorebook.
  1. Most moms claim they don’t know how to keep the scorebook.
  1. If you keep the scorebook, you have to pay attention to the game and can’t talk to your fellow fans.
  1. If you keep the scorebook, you don’t have to talk to your fellow fans.
  1. A good stadium chair is worth every penny.
  1. You have to pick your battles during baseball season. Just go ahead and concede the excessive concession stand candy.
  1. On a related note, your standards of a decent dinner for the family will probably slide during baseball season as much as your kid does into second base.
  1. Try not to feel too guilty about this lack of home-cooked meals. Think of all the people you’re keeping employed at Chick-Fil-A.
  1. After a few seasons, you will accumulate a variety of team t-shirts you will wear again never. Hence the (surprising) popularity of generic – but heavily blinged – “Baseball Mom” tees.
  1. Somebody will always yell, “Be a hitter!” when kids head to the plate. Don’t be that somebody. Of course they want to be a hitter.
  1. Somebody will also always yell at her kid to get his elbow up while he’s batting. Don’t be that somebody either. Leave the coaching to the coaches.
  1. There are a lot of good life lessons to be learned from bad calls and tough losses. That doesn’t make them any less heartbreaking for us to watch.
  1. Winning isn’t everything. But it does make the ride home more enjoyable.
  1. Odds are he won’t ever play in the MLB, so enjoy this while it lasts. Someday you might miss scrubbing those stains out of his uniform pants.
  1. Ha! No, you won’t actually miss scrubbing those stains. But you just might miss seeing that triumphant look on his face when he hits a double, slides in safe, or scores the winning run.
  1. After all, sharing in his joy is what baseball moms do best.


I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into my first ladies’ Bible study a couple of years ago. Joining one had been on my list of “things I’ll do when the kids are both in school,” so there I was. I figured I would learn more about faith from the study book in front of me. I didn’t realize how much I would learn, too, from the quiet woman across from me.

The registration form had asked my age, so I was hoping they’d group all of us young moms together. Those were the people I knew, that I had more in common with, I thought. The group at my table was actually a mix of ladies, some like me in our thirties, some veteran moms, some grandmothers. Despite our differences in age, though, we chatted, laughed, and connected from that very first day.

Our small group’s appointed prayer leader was a longtime church member named Kathleen. As she prayed with us and for us every Thursday morning, she shared her strong faith with us. Occasionally she would also share a story or two about mission trips she’d taken to Guatemala.

Later that fall, though, it was our turn to pray for Kathleen as she tearfully told us she’d been diagnosed with an advanced cancer. We rallied around her as best we could, with flowers, phone calls, notes, and prayer after prayer. She fought bravely, relying on her faith at every turn. She came to the first week of the spring semester that January, disappointed that her chemo had not worked as expected but hopeful about a new treatment she was about to start.

And then, two very short weeks later, we were stunned by the news that her brave fight was over. She was no longer with us, but instead with our heavenly Father.

The celebration of her life was a beautiful remembrance. As her family and many friends spoke about her, I was taken aback to learn the extent of her mission work. She didn’t just go on medical mission trips to Guatemala; she was the one who organized them. She and her husband had years ago sold their lake house and luxury cars here and traded their comfortable life to provide health care to thousands of people who otherwise wouldn’t have had any – and shared the Gospel with them. I had no idea.

I thought about all those Thursday mornings when our group had discussed the weekly lessons. We should have all been sitting around taking notes from her. To think how much we would have learned from her if she had spent the entire time sharing stories of her work, of the countless lives she touched, of how she trusted in God through every challenge and struggle.

But to think how much we learned from her by the fact that she didn’t.

Despite all Kathleen already knew about life, she came to learn and to listen. She didn’t consider her remarkable accomplishments to be her own. She believed them to be God’s work through her. Her grace and quiet strength were such a testament to putting your full trust in God, and she exemplified true humility. Humility, it has been said, is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.

I wish I’d had more months or years to learn from Kathleen, but I’m grateful for the time when our paths did cross. It was time I wouldn’t have had if the group had gone according to my original plan. God’s plans, though, are always better.

The best of intentions

I have been intending to write again for some time now. Obviously, I have not been very intentional about sitting down to do it, since my last post was in August, and I actually started writing this one in January. It’s funny, isn’t it, how the shades of meaning convey such difference between our intentions and being intentional?

We all have good intentions, no more so than every New Year as we pronounce our resolutions with such determination. Eat healthy and exercise this year! Organize the whole house! Never be late again!

Yet, in spite of the best intentions of so many, those who actually succeed in achieving their goals are intentional, or deliberate, about them. They plan healthy meals and time to work out. They tackle clutter one area at a time. And they somehow figure out how to always be on time. (Still a mystery to me.)

Being intentional often means finding ways to break ingrained habits that interfere with our intentions. Our brains love habits; relying on them conserves a tremendous amount of mental energy. The mind seems to like reverting to autopilot and not having to think through every single one of the countless decisions we make every day.

I started reading a really interesting book about this over spring break called “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” The first 68 pages were great. I have not yet finished it, though, since among my bad habits is only finding time to read books while on vacation. I must not be alone, though – Amazon also offers three different “summary” versions of that title for those who aren’t in the habit of finding time to read a whole book.

The big problem with habits is when what we tend to do is not we really intend to do. If these tendencies are affecting our health, our relationships, how we spend the precious gift of time we’re given every morning, it’s time to hijack the habit. That kind of change requires a very intentional and sustained effort.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do it all at one time. Sometimes making a different choice just for today is enough to get the ball rolling.

Today I chose to finally finish this. I challenge you today to do something you’ve been intending to do. After all, being intentional is much more fulfilling than being full of intentions.

Parting (with Summer) is such sweet sorrow

My dearest Summer,

So, I guess this is it. You’re leaving me. We both knew this wouldn’t last. But, oh, Summer – I still love you.

You’re easygoing and fun. You have no baggage, like homework and committees and bedtimes. You have given me the gift of time – time to do important things with my kids, like play Go Fish and Monopoly. Time to swim and laugh all afternoon. Time to read books just because we want to, not because we have to log all the minutes. Time to indulge their interests, presently baseball cards and golf games. Time to impart important life lessons like how to bake tasty cookies and how to play along watching The Price is Right. That’s Americana at its finest, no?

I know this School Year will be a good companion, too. It’s a fresh start – shiny and new, full of promise. Still, I will always cherish our days together, Summer, and all the wonderful memories. Most of all – like I knew I would – I have loved that when I’m with you, my little loves have been all mine. They’re not that little anymore, which makes precious weeks together all the sweeter.

So long for now. You will always have a special place in my heart.


Is it June yet?

Dear School Year,

This has been great, but I think we need to take a break. It’s not you – it’s me. And yes, there is someone else. I’ve been spending some time with Summer. Summer is different and fun. Summer is splashing in the pool and playing baseball in the driveway after dinner because it’s still light outside. Summer is the beach and a Fourth of July parade and cousins and the freedom to do as much or as little as we want on any given day.

You’re a little needy, School Year. You demand my kids seven hours a day and then, on top of that, give them a pile of homework? Summer lets me hang out with them all day, which I love. I know – they’ll fight with each other sometimes. Or maybe even a lot. I might miss running errands by myself. But, oh, the glorious promise of these weeks of leisurely independence from your demands!

It started out well nine months ago. School Year, I had such grand plans for our time together: get into fantastic shape, read books, get lots done around the house, and volunteer for you. Yet, you and I both know I’m no closer to six-pack abs, left many pages unturned, and still have clutter chic décor. I did greatly enjoy all my time helping with you, although admittedly the luster is starting to wear off even that. (To wit, I may have muttered some unkind comments as I sifted through no fewer than 6,000 of your fiendish little pink Box Tops this weekend.)

School Year, it’s getting awkward. We both know it’s essentially over, and yet you’re going to hang around until next Friday? Look, the teachers are as eager for you to be history as the kids are. Just wrap it up and leave us the yearbooks.

Let’s keep in touch, though. How about I call you in August, when you will be the one coming back on the scene fresh and full of possibility like a new box of crayons? We’ll probably be ready for you then – and tanned and relaxed, too.

So you take the worksheets, and I’ll take the kids. My boys will be all mine again, and these long Summer days ours to treasure.

But, hey, we can still be friends.

Take care,


Just Mom

I’m not Mommy anymore. Just Mom. I’m not sure when it even happened, but it did. While out with my boys recently, I heard a child call out, “Mommy!” and was struck by the fact that the small voice was definitely not looking for me. My subconscious filter that, in a public place, used to instantly compare a “Mommy!” call with my own kids’ exact pitch and tone didn’t even seem to listen.

This realization struck me, fittingly enough, as I was lounging poolside while the boys were splashing and swimming on our last vacation. It’s a nice perk of graduating to Mom, among others. Nobody needs me in the middle of the night. Diapers are a somewhat distant memory. I can go places like sporting events with my family and carry just a small handbag, no Goldfish or small toys required. Travel is a relative breeze.

It’s liberating, of course, but I must admit I did enjoy the Mommy days, too. I treasured the peace of holding a baby I had just rocked to sleep. I loved the mirth of toddler laughs – when the same silly thing was funny over and over and over. I adored the feeling of holding their small hand in mine as we walked along.

They don’t need to hold my hand in parking lots anymore. They don’t need me to sing them to sleep. They can dress themselves, and they can get their own snacks. They prefer playing with their friends than with me. They manage for seven hours a day at school completely without my assistance.

I’m glad for all these age-appropriate measures of independence. But the truth is, when they were small, I used to be able to fix everything. Hungry, tired, hurt, or bored? I could reliably feed, lull, soothe, or entertain. It wasn’t always easy, especially at first, but I learned a few tricks, as moms do. My own mom – a wise, wise woman – taught me many.

As children grow, though, so does the complexity of their problems. Not all the boo-boos can be kissed and made better. Schoolwork, peer relationships, self-image: moms do their best to help but can’t fix it all the way mommies can when their little ones’ needs are simpler, although more round-the-clock.

At the outset, it’s a frustrating revelation. All these years of being in charge of countless aspects of our children’s lives, it seemed quite often like the way things turned out was a direct result of our decision making, for better or worse. The books and web sites and blogs and fellow mothers proclaimed the path to follow: which baby contraptions you absolutely need, which foods to introduce first, what your toddler should have exposure to (sign language! music! gymnastics!). It’s a dizzying amount to digest these days, but we’ve been assured that we can shape our children with our correct choices.

Moms, we’ve been misled. For all we are in charge of, and all we are responsible for, we are not ultimately in control of what we spend more time worrying about than all else: who our children become. The older they get, the more I’ve come to realize that it is God who is in control. Our job is to nurture our children and love them for just exactly who they are, the wonderfully unique individuals He created them to be.

I may be just Mom to my kids these days. But at least I know now they are not just mine. They are His. They may rely on me for less, but I rely on Him more. And that knowledge is an even better perk than sleeping through the night.


A STAARtling Realization

Springtime in Texas: the pollen descends upon us, and so does the STAAR. Debate over this standardized testing tends to focus on the impact on students and teachers. Another party with a vested interest merits mention, however – a party who, unlike students and teachers, actually benefits from this assessment.

A company called Pearson creates and administers the STAAR and other standardized state tests under a $500 million contract with the Texas Education Agency. As the self-proclaimed “market leader in educational publishing and services,” they also conveniently sell the test prep materials and tutoring programs for the exams – some of which are required to graduate from high school. If that doesn’t happen, guess who also owns the GED exam?

Over the last 15 years, this British conglomerate has set their sights on the burgeoning American education industry and acquired a laundry list of testing and publishing companies to aid in that pursuit. The education market to capture grew all the more lucrative in no small part due to government mandated accountability testing. By numerous accounts, Pearson, of course, helped lobby successfully in support of these measures. They continue to invest in legislative lobbying to protect their interests.

But Pearson’s sphere of influence expands beyond publishing and standardized testing. They now control teacher certification in seven states. Last year they acquired BioBehavioral Diagnostics and their Quotient ADHD test. The move, which they announced as a “strategic entry into healthcare markets,” should come as no surprise. The new book “The ADHD Explosion” presents significant research correlating a dramatic rise in ADHD diagnosis with – wait for it – increased state testing.

The propensity of corporations to profit where the opportunity exists, even from educational products or services, is not inherently pernicious. That’s supply and demand. But a company paid with our tax dollars for the exclusive supply of a demand they aided in orchestrating – and are continuing to perpetuate – should raise red flags.

Bolstering the testing behemoth, though, are a legion of lawmakers, administrators and even some parents who have been drinking the accountability Kool-Aid. They support this seemingly endless educational data collection and one-size-fits-all approach believing it offers proof of instructional success. Regardless of their intentions to ensure educational parity, the reality has been that more assessments just equal more anxiety, for both students and teachers.

Parents, teachers, and administrators would like to believe that their children are subjected to the rigors of these high-stakes tests for some tangible benefit to the greater good. But the $500 million elephant in the room is getting harder to ignore.