Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Mother on Father's Day

The wind is cold and I am shivering. The sky is overcast. I turn to the mom next to me on the bleachers and say, "He is NEVER playing football! If I am this cold in June, imagine how I would be out here in November!" I turn back to watch Taiger warming up out on the field. I see him through my "Mother Eyes". His pants are getting short, I need to go get him some new ones. Is his hat staying on over his cornrows? Maybe I should have redone the ends. I am so glad his t-ball shirt was out of the drier in time for today. I wonder if he is too cold...he said he was okay, but maybe he needs a jacket on top of his long-sleeve shirt under his shirt...but three shirts plus a jacket? Would that just be a bit much? He is so cute out there...by FAR the cutest on the team. Look at that cute smile!

I see the coach walking toward me. I know what he is going to say. I kind of want to just stay sitting still and try and keep warm. I am the only Mom on the team who goes out and helps coach on the diamond during the games. Usually there are a couple of Dads out there, too. But no moms. The moms sit on the bleachers chatting and cheering. Today, they are wrapped in blankets staying warm. Moms watch. Dads help. That is where Dads are meant to be. Out there, doing boy things.

My hands are like ice. I stuff them in my hoodie pocket and stand up as the coach looks at me and says, "You ready?" He counts on me now. At the first practice he asked if anyone could come out and help. I jumped up and hurried to third base to help. There were no dads at that practice. It was at 5:00, and I guessed they were all still at work. But when coach asked for help,I was the only Mom who went out. I guessed the t-ball field was the dad's place. I was the only mom on the field. I talked to the boys, told them they were doing well, reminded them to catch the ball or run to home.

I nod at the coach and hurry to first base. Now, I am a Dad. It takes me a second to get out of Mom mode, and as the first little player hits the ball and starts running in the wrong direction (OF COURSE!), I shout, "Run this way, darling!" I freeze! Did I just shout the word, "Darling"? Dad mode, Dad mode, Dad mode. The next player runs to first. I give him a rough "good job" pat on the back. There, much more masculine. I remind him where to run next (it is hard for little players to remember which way to run!), over to second. I have my red ball cap on. I look like a coach. I jump up and down to get warmed up. I look at the moms on the bleachers. Some aren't even watching as their kids play. Sure, they pull out the camera when they are up to bat, but they are busy. They are doing Mom-ish things...watching their other kids, talking on the phone, talking to the other moms on the bleachers about swimming lessons and dance lessons and I see them chatting and laughing.

I move off of first base so the little first base man can more easily catch the ball. The little boy who just hit the ball runs off course and into my arms for a big hug. For a second, I realize they are used to seeing me there. Standing on first base, clapping as they hit the ball three inches off the tee. They know to run to me. They don't know to run to "first base". If I am not on first base, they go where I am. I hurry the kid over to first base and remind him he has to touch the base with his foot. As each little runner runs to first, I get a high five, a hug, a smile, a "did you see that swing?!" I tell them they did well. I pat them on the back. I give them hugs. I show them where to run next.

When we are in the field and not up to bat, I stand between first and second base. One boy who is supposed to be on first whines and says, "Awww, but I wanted to be by YOU!" I show them how to put their hands on their knees and watch the ball like "real baseball players do". They are pretty busy digging in the dirt, and look at me like I am crazy, because they have never actually SEEN a real baseball player before, and don't really trust what I am saying. Playing in the dirt is much more fun. I laugh. One boy wants to tell me about all of the rocks in his pockets. He misses the ball as it rolls past, and I grab his shoulders and turn him toward the ball and tell him to "go get the ball!" The three pounds of rocks in his pockets aren't helping him run any faster.

I tell them to watch the ball. I clap and shout, "'Kay, here comes the batter! Let's watch the ball. You guys ready?" I am shouting. Pointing. Patting. Directing. Coaching. Being a Dad.

Sometimes, at my house, I am a Dad.

I am a Mom. I love and hug and nurture. I cook and clean and give baths. I braid hair and iron clothes and make sure he has two socks.

I am a Dad. I sword fight. Dig in the dirt. Throw rocks. Go to work. I promise summer camping trips, which will be fulfilled. I look at sticks and rocks. I helped him catch his first fish. I tell him not to be scared of spiders and spider webs and bugs.

I am a Mom AND a Dad.

As father's Day nears, at first I feel a slight twinge of sadness. I regret that Taiger doesn't have a Dad.

Then, I think....in a way, he does. :)

I know there are a lot of Moms out there who are being Dads, too. So, to you I say, Happy Father's Day. :) You are doing a great job.


***megan*** said...

breclyn, you are such a talented writer! this is such an awesome post. i was thinking about moms who are *both* parents this morning. what a big and special job you have! taiger is so lucky to have you!!!

and for that matter, so is the t-ball team.

fullplatemom said...

You go girl! Do you know how many wonderful men have been raised by single moms? I'm married to one of them!