Thursday, September 12, 2013

All-American Night

Benjamin had his first baseball practice ever last night. By the time practice began at 6:30, the sun had retreated enough to cast a warm, sunny glow over the fields, leaving the temperature comfortably warm. A mild breeze kept the bugs at bay. We walked down the path to the green lawn near the batting cages to find his coach and team, Ben and I both quiet, butterflies in our bellies, wondering how this new endeavor would go. Texas takes their kids' sports seriously. It's a different level of intensity than we've experienced in our mountain town's leagues.

Abby, of course, bounced down the path, chattering away, oblivious to our nervous energy.

Josh has been working with Ben on his fundamentals since we signed him up for the season. During Abby's Thursday night soccer practices, they bring their mitts, balls, and bat to an empty corner of the oak-shaded field to work on throwing and catching, batting and fielding. I watch them from where Abby plays, heart overflowing with affection for my husband, whose patience and encouragement instill confidence in his son. More important than the skills is the time. After a summer apart, Benjamin soaks up Josh's undivided attention, visibly swelling with contentment as they swing, scoop, throw, catch. The skills follow.

We met the coach, an affable dad with a presence that put us both at ease. Benjamin joined the other kids in warming up until they called him into the batting cages. He made contact with most of the pitches, hitting a few with solid power. His coaches made a few corrections to his form, and Ben listened, hitting a solid line drive after adjusting his stance. My mama heart swelled with pride in this little man who's worked hard these last several weeks and who receives instruction like water. He is growing up, my little boy. Pushing himself to try new things, devoting himself to improvement, recognizing the cause and effect of effort and growth. 

I exhaled. He's going to have no problem here.

Ben rejoined the other kids on the grass, alternately fielding grounders and catching the fielded balls. My attention moved back and forth between him and his sister, who practiced cartwheels in the grass until her hair matted down around her face from sweat. 

Every time she landed correctly, she beamed at me, all pride and glory. Determination abounds in her, too.

The sun continued to drop so that, by the time we moved to the baseball field for the second half of practice, the sky was colored pink and orange and purple. 

I watched Benjamin sprint the bases while Abby tried to capture the sky in my phone. 

"He's a good runner," I heard one coach say to the other. 

Ben ran over to the fence with a grin:"I think they like my speed!" he said, and ran back to the line.

Abby looked up at me with a face that shone adoration for her big brother: "I think Ben's a good player," she said.

"I think so, too."

It was the loveliest evening: baseball, cartwheels, sunsets, joy. Quintessential Americana. 

I'm not sure what it is about life here, but it feels easier, somehow, to give the kids opportunities to try more, to step out in independence, to work and accomplish more of what they desire. Perhaps it's just a matter of timing. They're old enough now to handle an occasionally later bedtime, a fuller schedule. Perhaps it's the weather: warm and breezy evenings that insist on being enjoyed. Perhaps it's the proximity of activities to our home that allows us to spend more time doing and less time driving. 

Whatever the case, life feels rich at the moment. The kids are happy. Not in the superficial sense, but in the deeply contented and fulfilled sense. Two nights ago, Abby walked up to a little girl during Ben's soccer practice and struck up a conversation, asking her which school she goes to ("Me, too!"), who her teacher is ("Oh, your class is across the hall from mine!"), what her name is ("Mine is Abigail"). It was an actual conversation initiated by my newly poised and engaging little girl. At some point in the exchange, Abby said, "Come on! Let's go admire the stars and stuff," and off they skipped into the grass under the Texas sky. I turned to this little girl's dad after they left, and we both chuckled aloud at the cuteness.

In all aspects, from their new school to their new activities to their responsibilities here at home, they are working hard and seeing their efforts rewarded. They are developing confidence, a sense of self, an awareness of who they are in this world, a willingness to step out of the known and secure to engage new people, new activities. They are maturing before my very eyes.

I'm still not sure why God initiated this move to Texas, and I'm certain the answers will continue to unfold with time, but for now, watching the kids thrive is all this mama could ask for.


  1. I'm so happy to see you are blogging again! :) Love you, cuz!
    :) Louanne


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