The lessons we learn in childhood are tough.
Disappointment may be one of the toughest.
Being disappointed in other people, well that’s hard. But, when we are disappointed with ourselves, sometimes, it’s too much to bear.
“You can do this Bella. You’re a game maker. WHO CAN HIT THE BALL?” I said encouragingly.
“I can! I always hit the ball!” Bella beamed.
“Alright then. Go out there and do it!” I yelled as she picked up her bat, slid on her helmet and walked out of the dugout and onto the field.
Knots were threatening to cut off my circulation. I sat down in the stands next to Warwick, and he nodded his head in reassurance.
Bella stepped up to the plate, bat at the ready, and waited. The ball came fast; she took a swing, and missed.
That’s okay. She’ll get it this time. Send her good thoughts. Happy energy. You can do this.
She lifted her bat up once again, eyes on the ball, elbows up. The ball came and went, but still no contact.
“Something’s off.” Warwick murmured. Vocalizing the words that I did not want to hear. She’ll be okay. She’ll get this. Focus, Bella, focus.
Her gaze, zoned in on the pitcher. Her stance was perfect. Elbows up, eyes on the ball. The ball rolled out of the pitchers hand and slowly glided toward Bella. She was ready. Even from where I sat, I could see her head tilt slightly as she measured its exact location and speed.
It’s a little high. Not quite right. But I could see the fierceness in her eyes. Her mind was made up. This was the third pitch, and she was going to give it all she had. She pulled her arms back, took a swing, and missed.
The look on her face was crushing. Her eyes began to tighten, her lips started to sag downward, and all the blood was gone from her face. The walk back to the dugout was long and tough. This was the second time today that she struck out. Only the third time ever in a game. I told her she could do this. She’s going to think she let me down.
Her coaches walked her back to the bench, whispering to her, and patting her on the back the entire way. I know she wanted to cry, but she held it in, tried to move on, trying to make it until the end of the game. And she did. She even seemed like she was having a good time. And when the game was over, she gave me a winning smile, and went to sit under the Oak tree for the post game huddle.
I stood across the field and watched her as she listened intently. I noticed a grimacing look on her face, immediate and pained. Yelps erupted from her mouth, and cries too loud to be consoled.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She had sat in an ant hill.
Warwick and I ran to her as fast as we could. I tugged and pulled on her socks and shoes, as Warwick washed away the ants with the water bottle. The ants were washed away, but the hurt wasn’t. She was in pain, and it wasn’t from ant bites.
As tears streamed down her face, with her eyes red and puffy she said, “Mommy, I didn’t do what you said. I didn’t hit the ball.”
It was like the wind had been knocked out of me. A blow straight to the chest.
I immediately started blurting out I love you’s, and you’re the best kid ever stuff. I needed her to know that she really was the greatest no matter what. That nothing could ever make her less than a star. That no matter how fantastic she is, and no matter how hard she tries, sometimes, she will miss the ball. That this game, this life, is not about winning, it’s about always giving it our best and having a good time. And knowing that when we give it our best, it is always enough. Nobody, especially me, expects anything more than that.
She nodded at me, responded with some “mmm’s” and “uh – huh’s” before Warwick, whisked her up into his strong daddy arms, and carried her to the car.
I hope she ‘got’ what I was trying to say, what I really wanted to say. Don’t be disappointed in yourself for trying your hardest. It’s always a win, when you love yourself enough to accept the things you can’t change. Be proud of yourself, of your heart, and of your strength. For everything that you are. Love yourself all the way down to your toes. And Daddy and I will love you always, and so will the Great – I AM.