JD had a game over the weekend at 11 AM. Uncle Brian has the schedule, so I don’t harass-text him about coming. I know he’ll always show up for JD.
Well at 11:10 AM, there was no sign of Uncle Brian and JD was out on the field throwing grounders to a teammate, yelling to me, every other minute, “Is Uncle Bri coming?”
“Keep it up, dude!” I said. “Eye on the ball!” I went about setting up the juice boxes and waters, leaning the bats on the fence, and lining the helmets on the bench. Bri loses his keys, locks himself out, and is routinely late to things, so I knew he’d appear.
“Moooooom!” JD said, tugging on me. “Joey threw the ball and it got me in the shoulder—and, and—”
“Stop whining! Man up and get on the field. Go get dirty!” I said, in a stern-ish voice.
“FINE!” he said. Then JD ran off.
One of the coaches, a dad, witnessed this and I felt … embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to yell at him,” I said. “I—”
“You play both roles,” he said. “You have to play bad cop sometimes.”
He’s right and I admittedly fall into the mommy role all too often. I’m motherly and lovely and kissy, but I have to be no nonsense too. Even though moms can and do play bad cop, I have to juggle many roles in my one-woman circus. I have to kiss a boo-boo. I have to tell my kid to knock it off when he’s acting up. I have to “Hulk Smash.”
“Play ball!” announced a coach from the other team.
My kiddos came running to me, because they were batting first. All I saw was a rush of blue shirts.
“Jack’s mom, can I bat first?” asked Joey.
“Can I bat first?” said Chris.
“I’m batting first!” said Steve.
“I’m thirsty! Can you open my bottle? It’s stuck!” said kid with red hair.
“Where’s Uncle Bri, mommy!” said JD.
“Butts on the bench,” I said. “Helmets on heads.”
“Tommy, you’re batting first! Go,” I said, pointing to home base.
“Danny, you’re on deck. Behind the fence.” (I have a batting rotation in my iPhone notes.)
“Jack!” I heard Uncle Bri’s voice, whirled around and saw The Hangover approaching. Christ!
Uncle Bri. His Friend.
Both looked disheveled. Un-showered. Sleepy. Hungover. Like they slept in what they were wearing.
My kid lit up like a Christmas tree and ran to his uncle. My brother picked him up, tossed him in the air, and sent him back to the bench.
“I’m dying” Uncle Bri said, passing me. Seems he was at a party all night. He smelled like a taco. And beer.
Still didn’t stop him from showing up for his nephew. You show up if you want to. If it matters. If you care.
And let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing to know people show up for you. No matter where you are or what you need. This, I hope, will soak up in my kid. I want him to be someone who shows up.
Uncle Bri would kill me for posting this pic. But he rarely reads my blog …. so whatevs. Behold: The Hangover, Part Little League.
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