Monday, February 29, 2016

The Curveball

I'm a baseball and softball Mom. It still surprises me. I, of all people, am raising athletes!

In baseball and softball, there is a pitch called the curveball. I knew about this growing up but I didn't understand the amazing power and magic of the curveball.  It's a pitch thrown with a lot of downward spin.  It nears the plate at strike level but just when it gets there, it drops suddenly and veers off to the side. It's pretty hard to get a good hit off this pitch, but it's not impossible. According to STATS, if you're a pitcher, you have better than a 50% chance of getting a strike with a curveball.

As young ballplayers mature, they learn how to throw a few pitches to take the batters off guard. The Captain is in his second season of the age bracket (10u) where kids actually do the pitching. This spring, I expect he will start to encounter some boys who can actually pitch. (The fall season was all about getting the ball reliably to the plate!)

The first time your child stands at the plate and meets a curveball is unforgettable.  The ball is coming, it looks like a strike, they square up and give it a good swing, and the swing is nowhere near the ball. It's so confusing. They look at their coach, befuddled. What happened? Often, this swing into the air throws them off balance. They spin around, they fall over. Nothing they know about baseball so far has equipped them for this pitch.

Eventually, they will work this out. They will learn to keep their feet when a solid swing hits thin air. The best will learn to see and hit the curveball, or at least "get a piece of it."

In the last two weeks, life has thrown me a couple of curveballs. Quite a few things I really did not expect have happened, some catastrophic. These curveballs have thrown me off balance. I have had long hours of grief and uncertainty. In the end though, my training has paid off.

One unusual thing was the feedback I got. I kept hearing, "You're so calm. How are doing it?" My typical answer is, "I'm good in a crisis," but honestly, it's more than that. After years of dealing with my lifeshocks -- aka curveballs -- by noticing them, processing and clearing them, making choices and then getting to a place of gratitude with them, I simply weather them more easily now. What's true in baseball is true in life, practice makes perfect. The more we choose to do our work, the easier it is to do it in a pinch.

Typically, I would weather these storms without so much as a backward glance but because so many people very kindly offered help in this hard time, I was more aware than usual of the curveballs coming my way. Instead of just standing there at the plate fouling them off, I've been aware that there is a team of people surrounding me, letting me know I'm not alone and even offering to pinch hit.

What I've come to realize is that no matter how good I am at noticing and clearing my lifeshocks -- and I have done a lot of it and fast lately -- in the end, I need my team. Even if I say "no thank you" to the offers of meals, I still need to know they're there. Even if (maybe for the first time ever ) I said to my Mom, "No, stay home, save your money," it's good to know my folks are standing behind me. Somehow that text, "You are in my prayers," or that phone call offering meals, or that tuna casserole that turned up on a very stressful Lenten Friday, or that offer to babysit, somehow those things are the fuel. I may have struck out and limped to the bench, but I did it with my head high and knowing I was a part of a community and a very loving and solid community at that.

In the end, I'm tired, I'm a little beat up, and I've learned some more about the game of life. But mostly, I'm grateful. Thank you.