Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tricky Twist on a Sunny Saturday: Choosing to do or be...

It started out sunny and clear. Mark and I both packed a vehicle with kids and equipment and headed off to ball fields on opposite sides of town.

It was Noah's first baseball scrimmage and Mark delivered him to the field just in time to jump in. Benjamin rode along and stayed near Mark to watch his brother's game. Josiah and Elizabeth had a baseball practice in a small park near our home. We had been out of the van less than a minute when we realized that sunny and clear does not mean warm. Playing on the side of a small lake, the wind whipped across the water and cut quickly through our clothes. I grabbed a blanket from the back of the van and took a seat on the opposing team's bench.

They started in the field. If you have a young child on a ball team, you know the drill. Baseballs flying through the air and often hitting the ground before a glove. Lots of happy, little children running aimlessly from place to place... glove out front, eyes on the dandelion two feet away. Giggles and game-faces. Learning a bit at a time to play a game that is as much a part of Americana as apple pie.

We weren't there long before it was time to bat. EB went first. A swing and a miss. Another. Her gaze firmly on the pitcher, regardless of the location of the ball. I yelled out to watch the ball hit the bat and then she connected. Her face lit up as she headed to first base and then Josiah took his stance.

Josiah was born with a right arm that didn't work. He was big and round and beautiful but his birth was complicated and cumbersome and rough. After 24 hours of induced labor, he came out blue and struggling with his right hand curled tightly at the end of a limp arm. Over time and with help, he was able to learn to use it. First, his hand opened up and ten tiny fingers found a wonderful world to explore. Then, he began to move that arm. It wasn't strong but it was working and we were grateful as could be. Because of this trouble, he has leaned on his left hand to do everything he needs to do. We say he is a lefty but all his teachers agree that his handedness has more to do with circumstance than wiring. Because of this, Josiah bats lefty... and righty. Saturday, he faced right.

Normally, he hits the first or second pitch but as balls started sailing past him, he was getting flustered just a bit. He was facing the lake and the wind was strong and we were cold and hitting was just hard. Finally, he connected... hitting a fair ball toward third but stayed in the box for another shot. The pitch was released and quick as a flash, the bat hit home and my boy doubled over. The ball had hit his thumb.

He tried to shake it off but honestly, he is seven. The coach came over and sent him to me on the bench. By then, I was wrapped head to toe in that blanket and I opened it up to embrace my son. He was crying hard and had the hurt hand on his chest, between the two of us. To be honest, I was afraid to look.... but, I knew I had no choice.

"Let me see, bubby." I whispered. "Just let me take a look..."

"Don't touch it, momma!" he cried. "Oh momma, it hurts!"

He carefully pulled his hand from between us and showed me his right hand thumb. The nail, the whole, entire nail, was the color of a grape. As I tried to think about what to do, he saw it, too. This made the whole thing worse. He buried his face in my blanketed shoulder and cried out loud.

EB was on third by now and could see us well from where she stood. A look of worry washed over her face and her feet may have been on field but her heart was here with us.

Honestly, I had no idea what to do. I am not now, nor was I ever, an athlete. These sports injuries may be common but to me it is all brand new. Bits and pieces of worthless information flowed through my head but I was left lost. My boy, my sweet little 7 year old boy, was in pain.

"I will send daddy a text," I began, "to see what we can do to..."

Holding tightly to my son, I used the other hand to type a simple word to Mark.


He responded with, "oh no! who?"

Within a few minutes, I had sent the story to my husband in un-capitalized, crudely typed phrases, all the while comforting Josiah. Finally, I knew was had to come out of the wind and I wrapped him in my blanket and we started for the van.

Mark texted back that he was on his way to meet us and I tucked Josiah in the front seat and tried not to look at his hand.

I hate not knowing what to do. I hate when my kids are in pain. I hate that feeling that nudges at the edges of the insecurities we all harbor as moms. I sat there looking at my sweet boy and there was nothing at all I could do. I gave him a fruit snack, turned on his favorite music and prayed a bit in my head while waiting for Mark to arrive.

Except he didn't.

My phone signaled another text from him and I read it and shook my head.

"noah hit with pitch on wrist"

"waiting to see if okay before leaving to meet you there"

It was the first Saturday of baseball and two of my kids were down. I sat in the van and watched EB run while running my fingers through Josiah's hair. I whispered encouragement to his fearful self and watched the road for any sign of Mark's truck. I prayed for Noah to be okay... for 'Siah to be okay... for all of us to just be okay.

Yep, it started clear and sunny but our Saturday took a tricky twist.

There is an unpredictable nature to this work, don't you think? Right when we think we have a handle on it all, an errant baseball comes flying our way. Sometimes that baseball is literal and sometimes it comes in the form of a letter from school, a confusing doctor report, a bit of bad news or a bloody knee. It's never part of the plan but it must be dealt with nonetheless. And usually, there is to be found a bit of wonder, a hidden blessing, a need newly met that we would have otherwise missed.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time with two of my sweet boys. I stared at their wounds and wrapped them tightly in my arms. I faced down the fears that follow us mommas and set aside the "what-ifs" that wandered in my head. I sat on the couch and snuggled in tight and poured out ibuprofen and found ice packs and all in all, loved the extra minutes spent sitting with those boys. We knew the weekend would be busy and there would be time spent driving from place to place. Yet, what we planned and what we found were two very different things. Instead of cab driver for my four babies, I was nurse and nurturer to two. And stressful as it was, I was grateful for the time.

And with all that time to think, I realized again, that I have something to give my kids, something important and active and real. Sometimes I believe that I am here to provide a ride, a meal, a laundry service, a loud voice to cheer them on. Turns out, that might be part of the job but it far from the biggest piece. What I remembered on Saturday morning is that what they need is me. I remembered that when my boys tears slow as soon as I touch their arm. I remembered that when they ran to me for help and comfort and safety. I remembered that as I spoke words of truth and peace into their difficult days and the shade of fear and pain slid slowly out of view. Yes, there is an awful lot to do most days but I cannot forget that it is far more important to be.

It's Monday now and we are moving on. We have new stories to include in our family lore. The boys will be fine with a little time (at least that's what the ER doc says!). And I have a reminder that helps me know what I need to do today. As I plan this week and lay it all out, there must be place and energy to focus on those things that matter most. So, if my laundry is undone and the kitchen is a mess, I may need to let that go. I have four kids who need me... not only for what I do but really for who I am. The same is true for you.

Blessings on your day.

1 comment:

legendswife said...

What a well written post. Sorry to hear your babes got hurt. We hurt when they hurt rather it's physical or emotional. Have a blessed week:)