Three months ago, toward the end of March, I got roped into being the manager of my son’s coach pitch Little League team. We had done one season of T-ball, which combined with my son’s age – turning 7 in April, was enough to move up to coach pitch. I am still nursing, and I have a demanding toddler and clingy 5 year old. What was I thinking?
If you’re a regular reader you won’t be surprised at the answer: I was trying to live according to my core personal values. The manager of the team ended up coaching last minute in a different level, so our team didn’t have a manager and the league sent out an email to the parents asking for someone to coach. No response apparently. The next day the president of the league sent an email asking the parents for someone who could at least step up and just coordinate the other parents and get our season going. My husband and son were really looking forward to the season and I wanted it to be a good experience for them. I’m good at coordinating and organizing people and stuff so I said I could help. What do you think happened? “Hey, thanks for being the team’s manager for the season! Here is your assistant coach.”
It was the fastest I had made a decision like that – decisively, at least in a long time. I knew my husband thought I was a little crazy, but he was also a bit worried about no one taking charge and making things happen to get our season going. I had just been reading more about values that week and had recently written on this blog about how and why to discover our core personal values, and about my experience camping in a cabin in the rain in March with my husband and our 4 young boys as a result of a similar train of thought. One takeaway I was having from my reading and journaling about our values was that I wanted to put a higher priority on activities that involved being outside, pursuing productive hobbies with the boys, and developing relationships within our family and others.
I did most of the administrative work early in the season, and the dads all stepped up and helped run the practices and do the coaching during the games. I wasn’t available much during practices and games, because I was watching our younger 3 children, because I wanted to free up my husband to help with the game, with pitching machine, 1st base coach, etc. The whole reason I got involved was to help him have a good season with our son. I was able to draw that line and hold it. I never had to ask him not to do something he wanted to do with the team, so that I could do something the team needed.
I definitely went through a process during the season of being excited, then productive, then stressed, then a bit regretful. In the middle I wondered if I had made a mistake, but then I was able to pass the baton to the dads, and sit on the sidelines with my kids and watch the games for the second half of the season, at least part of each game before my younger kids would more often than not cumulatively demand to leave early. But we definitely went to more games than we would have if I hadn’t had an official role on the team. As the regular season wrapped up, we had won 1 game and started to be decent at batting and fielding. Then we did well in the losing bracket of the tournament and finished third out of 5 teams.
The last game we won in the tournament was a really fun one. All of our work and the kids’ learning felt like it had paid off. We got a double play, and strung together several hits and then got a home run. And that game was doubly rewarding because I worked extra hard to make it happen. I went to the field in the afternoon to fill in puddles with dirt, it took awhile to fix the field from the rainstorm the day before. I stopped in the middle to get my big boys from school and they helped me finish.
During the season I was able to help get all the details done and dots connected that we needed, but I continually felt like I wasn’t an awesome coach and if I didn’t have young kids and had meant to be coaching that I would do so much better, if I was a ‘real’ coach. But in the end the parents really appreciated me leading the team, and the dads enjoyed focusing on helping at the field, and we all had a great season. It took a little while for me to stop focusing on what I think I could have done to be an amazing coach, and realize that I was good enough, and had done enough. When I let go of the temptation to value perfectionism, I could accept the season and experience as a success and even consider doing it again.
Our season ended a week ago, I’ve been letting the dust settle before writing a post about the experience. And my conclusion is that I made the right decision and it was a success. It was difficult and took me out of my comfort zone. But the spring of 2017 for me was greatly enhanced by our experience playing baseball this season. I really enjoyed getting to know the other parents and working with them. I was reading during the season about addiction and technology, and was trying not to be depressed, and contemplating how to live our values. One of my conclusions from my recent reading is that relationships are huge. Having community and doing life together can insulate you from many difficulties both in the situation and in the bigger picture of life.
What is one thing you can do to make more space in your life for relationships and helping others?
All the research says your life will be richer for it.