By Contributing Editor Jenny Isenman
Saturday was Jake’s Little League Kids vs. Dads game. I arrived late, kind of excited to see Mark at bat. There is something sexy about seeing your husband hit a bomb. Of course the other side of the coin is seeing him strike out or bumble some ball on the ground, which would drastically undermine his appeal.
On my way to the game, however, in no way did I think he would end up assessing my appeal. One of the kids was with his mom, and she was reluctantly talked into playing to represent her family. My son was in the middle of striking her out when I thought, that looks fun. Not the striking out part, but to be a kid for a few minutes, to hold a bat, to cross home plate. How often do us moms get that chance?
“I want next up.” Did I say that out loud? I did.
“Come on we need more players,” one of the dads screamed, probably imagining how amusing it would be to watch me try to hit Jake‘s wild pitches.
I rolled up my dark wash, bell-bottom Hudsons, and kicked off my heels. Yes, I wore heels to the field. Strappy thong wedges, considered perfectly acceptable “baseball mom” attire by the Weston Area Little League official handbook.
“In all my years of coaching I’ve never had a player show up in bellbottoms,” the coach said as I approached the plate.
For the dads, this was just a friendly game. The dads are the ones lobbing the ball around at all the practices, hitting to the different positions, throwing pop-ups and grounders, while me and the moms are relegated to the bleachers to tend to our other children, like pioneer wives. No one wants the moms on the field, but G-d do I always want to be out there.
It felt so nostalgic to walk to the plate. I got into my stance, which I remembered without hesitation. No expectations from any of the dads, just how I like it. First my practice swing. Can I still do it?
“Wow, nice swing,” the dad who invited me to play said in shock. “Guys, you better back it up.“
That’s right. My intimidating swing made a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds move back. Yes, I can still swing, but can I hit? I wanted so badly not to make an ass of myself. Not just not to make an ass of myself, but to be impressive. To let my son see that all his athleticism was not genetically encoded directly from his dad’s DNA, and to show a bunch of middle aged dads that the sarcastic girl who comes to the game in heels can get down and dirty.
Ah, thank G-d I made contact. A solid respectable line drive, Wahoo!. It was clearly unexpected. I got claps, and a “Wow” and when I went to back to the stands my father in law added, “I see where Jake gets his swing, but why didn’t you slide into second? Afraid to get your jeans dirty?”
Okay, I should quit now before I become a one hit wonder. But, it’s fun being a dad. I need more of this feeling.
On my second at bat, I was hoping to improve on my first - and I did. I whaled it. My teammates just started to laugh and the coach yelled, “She’s a ringer.” I took my spot next to Jake who was now playing first. I got a little hug, which was huge –he rarely hugs the other runners as they step onto his base, but he was proud. I played it off like “Yeah your mom’s the bomb,” but really I wasn’t so smug.
What happened next is almost too embarrassing to write about, but that’s what I do right? I was playing second, the atmosphere was light, but in my mind I was still auditioning for a walk on position with the Yankees. A hard grounder was about to whiz by. It was clearly out of reach, but maybe, just maybe… The truth is that ball could have been hit 2 bases away and I still would have run for it. Obviously, I have some competitive issues, which I will be sure to revisit in therapy.
As shocked as each Dad was today, they hadn‘t seen anything yet. I have to stop that ball, it’s coming hard, and if I don’t it will fly past me into the outfield and some 8 year old will get on base. I threw myself face first into the dirt, with my arm stretched long. My hip thudded against the hard ground, and there was a second where all eyes were frozen on my display. I stood up slowly, as I had injured my hip, and grabbed the ball out of my glove. Some dirt and pebbles may have trickled out of my mouth and hair, but I had the ball.
The stunned coach on first base let out a “Whoa. I didn‘t see that coming.”
You didn’t see the intense barefoot mom diving to catch a ball in a friendly game against elementary school kids? Well, I am nothing if not highly unpredictable.
I brushed myself off, as I had let my pants get dirty. I thought this would be an amusing time to stop for a lip gloss reapplication.
I looked over at Mark who, though he knows about my unrelenting spirit, was in as much shock as the other guys at my last maneuver.
Jake may be more inherently athletic, but let me tell you something, he could learn a thing or two from his mom’s unrelenting, unyielding determination. He might also take note to of her misplaced intensity and yearning to relive childhood moments. These guys must have thought I was insane, but I took comfort in the knowledge that they would pick me if we ever happened to be in gym class together.
“And the parents win! Game ball has to go Jake’s mom.”
Mark walked over pulled me close and gave me a manly pat on the rear. “Nice job babe. I knew you would hit it, but I had no idea you would start throwing yourself all over the field.”
Thanks guys. I’ll be seein’ ya… from the bleachers.
I am a neurotic mother of two amazing, wonderful, brilliant, perfect children which is saying a lot because I am a harsh critic and an uncompromising disciplinarian. You know, the kids have to sing for their supper kinda stuff… well, they at least have to ask… well, a grunt would be nice. Actually, they just sit and I make multiple meals until one is worthy of their sophisticated taste buds and doesn’t exacerbate their fear of burnt spots, crust, pizza bubbles, or food that touches other food. It is my job to keep them protected from the Florida sun, prehistoric insects, and plasticware with the number 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. I have to expose them to just enough germs to build their immune system, while using little enough sanitizer to keep them healthy. I also have to remember to feed and water them daily.
A freelance writer for magazines such as InStyle and Mademoiselle, I also have a fabulously funny and relatable blog called suburbanjungle.net