Parenting and baseball have a lot in common.
Once that little one is in your life you find yourself pitching. You pitch comfort to that baby 24 hours a day. You keep throwing at them whatever it is they need. Food, clean diapers, warmth, attention, you’d do anything for that baby. You have become a pitcher.
As time goes by you slowly become the batting coach. It’s your job to get them to make contact with the ball and feel the connection of their own power. Potty training, not hitting their baby sister, saying thank you, learning to pick up toys, things that help them to feel a sense of responsibility and consequence.
Before long you are the short stop. Stopping the infield balls they hit. You keep them contained, running only to 1st base. They begin to create their own sense of identity and direction. They join the hockey team, drama club or 4-H. They have oodles of ideas or things they want to try but it’s your job to provide boundaries and allow them experiences at a reasonable rate.
Next thing you know, you are standing at third base coaching them on. Your perspective and vantage point help guide them when it’s time to stay put or run the bases. The stakes are higher, first jobs, driving and college prep tests require preparation, responsibility and discipline. Your voice leads them. Their legs do the running.
Then when you least expect it, you have become home plate. You are the place they run to. The place of safety and completion. The place they land on. The place they connect with to secure a run. Home plate.
You are no longer pitching them anything, helping them choke up on the bat, scooping up the infield ground balls or coaching them to stay put or run home. You are home. You are the constant in life for your newly grown babies.
My kids fit in the “newly grown” category. Finishing college, first steps in building a career and moving out. All good things. But it leaves me wondering what it is that I am to be for them. I haven’t got it all worked out. Honestly, I’ve never completely worked out any stage of parenting. But this is the stage that our family will spend the most time.
My son and I were hanging out the other day. We talked about his school work load. He has a lot going. As he shared with me I was overwhelmed. He wanted to share with me, for whatever reason. We are way past the stage where I help him organize his tasks but it touched me that he wanted to tell me anyway. I accept any and all reasons to engage with my children.
It seems that even as independence grows, the need for connection deepens.
And that’s what being a home plate is about I guess. Connection. Providing a source of belonging and acceptance. Reassuring that their tasks, hopes, struggles and accomplishments matter. Affirming they will make it through. Providing a moment to rest, refuel and inspire. Connection.
I like being home plate. I’ll admit, I’m new at it. There haven’t been to many times where my kids have touched base. But before long I’m sure I will have dirty cleat marks all over me. I’m good with that.
Home plate is the landing spot. Meant to be crossed over again and again. You can’t stay there for long. You have to touch it and get back in the rotation. That’s how the game is played. You play your position to the best of your ability. You strive to round all the bases and touch home plate. You’ve then scored. Connecting with home plate counts as a run.
I think I’ll like being home plate.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:10