I have been given my orders.
Last night I found out my daughter’s coach is hoping to have her BRIEFLY go into the game as…I get short of breath just typing this word…PITCHER on Tuesday. Seriously, I am one breath away from hyperventilating here.
Pitcher? She’s gone thru the motions of pitching for years but has never actually held a ball and attempted to throw it to any particular target until a few weeks ago. She’s not that good yet. In her defense it’s only been a few weeks but every slat that used to make up my fence is broken or cracked. Every one. It’s a 18 foot fence. Her actual strike zone is about a foot squared. This causes me some concern. Don’t misunderstand I give her credit-she’s trying. She’s practicing and listening (mostly) to instruction. She’s watching YouTube instructional videos. She’s doing her part. I know she has to get game experience sometime. But tomorrow night?? Maybe we should actually wait for her to quit pitching the ball OVER the 5 foot fence before we put her in the line-up.
Her current coach(es) are the reason my girl is still on the field. They see something in her that I don’t and they are experts at bringing the best of her out. They have crafted her into a confident athlete. If anyone can make her a pitcher it’s them. I trust them. I know that they will protect her. Protect her from herself-she’s a bit of a perfectionist and from the ugliness that can sometimes follow youth sports. I also know they will push her. They will make her do more than she thought she could. They will teach her to be the beat that she can be and they will make her believe that whatever her best is is enough. That’s why I love them.
When I heard they were considering putting her in I must have looked like I
felt because her coach gave me a raised eye-brow-mom-look-that-meant-STOP-IT. When Kinsely moved out of eye-sight she said, “Stop it Mama.” I didn’t immediately stop fretting and freaking but she knew I wouldn’t. I did tone it down.
A little while later I called my girl over. “I am very proud that you get to get experience pitching but I am nervous.” We talked a bit about how I was nervous for her at every at bat, every time a ball was hit in her direction and every time she took to the field. “I am not nervous because I think you CAN’T do it. I am nervous because I know how badly you WANT to do it.” I didn’t want her to misunderstand my reaction. This whole thing was about building her confidence…not letting me tear it down before it even got started.
“What do you need from me?” I asked. I barely got the words out before she answered. Obviously she had already given this some thought.
“1. Don’t shout ‘you can do it’ or anything like that if I get a ball or hit someone. I am going to be trying to get in a zone and that will just distract me. Coach and I have a deal so I don’t have to worry about hitting too many girls or getting too many balls. So just don’t yell ‘make the T or flick that wrist’ or anything like that, okay?”
2. If I get a strike you can cheer. That’s okay. But could you just cheer or clap or something? Don’t get all crazy or anything.
3. Mom…I am going to be looking at you so DON’T,” she flings her arms over her face and head and scrunches up her face in an exaggerated, silly pose. I stated to protest that I didn’t do that but her ‘really-Mom?’ look stopped me mid-sputter. “Or this…” she makes a big dramatic show of hiding her face in her hands. I couldn’t even pretend to deny that pose. I did it every time she got on-deck.
3. Don’t embarrass me. You know…”that’s okay it didn’t hurt her too bad” if a ball hits a girl. Okay. JUST. CHEER.
4. You can offer me ice cream. It’s okay if you want to yell out, “An ice cream for a strike!” That doesn’t embarrass me.
So I promised to NOT coach from the stands but to SEMI-Quietly cheer her on without any exaggerated body movements. Per her hints, I went ahead and offered her an ice cream for a hit and a topping for every strike.
“I am really excited Mom,” she admitted to me. “I am nervous too,” WOW-she admitted that too. I responded that I was really excited and nervous too but that I knew she would do great. She got up and proceeded to demonstrate her pitching motion for me. We were in the den so no actual ball was involved but she still predicted, “That would have been a strike!” Who was I to argue?
So…Tuesday night I will be in the stands, sitting on my hands with some sort of food in my mouth. I figure if I am sitting on my hands I can’t make exaggerated motions of any sort. 10 pieces of gum might, just might, keep me from shouting. Hopefully a friend will be there to nudge me if I slip. This will not be easy for me. If you read BATTER UP, MOM DOWN you know that I am NOT the cheer-quietly kind of mom. I am not sedate or demure. EVER. I am not calm-cool-and-collected. I am NOT the mom that can tune everyone out IF the other parents start complaining about my daughter. I am not.
I am, however, a mom that is very proud of her daughter for pro-actively telling me what she needs from me. I am the Mom who believes her daughter is capable. I am. I am her biggest fan. I am her cheerleader. As she so delicately reminded me-I AM NOT HER COACH. My job is to cheer her on and make her feel confident. She has a coach. He’s taught her, he believes in her and he’s nurtured this ability. It’s his job is to help her find her ZONE and to coach her thru her first EVER pitching experience. He’s gotten her this far. He’s gotten her to the point where she is willing to try. He’s given her confidence to at least make the attempt so I just need to sit down-shut-up and let my girl do her THANG.