Clark’s homerun ball and the rose he gave me for Senior Night. April 12, 2019.
“Hurry,” I say. “We want to get a good seat.” It’s March 2005, and we’re at the Grand Bay, Alabama, ballfields to watch Clark, our four year old son, play his first t-ball game. I’m holding his one year old sister, Becca. As I look around, I notice how out of place I look. All the other women have on jeans and t-shirts. Wow, this is awkward. I have on white pants, a light green top, cute jewelry, and very short heels. I’ve got to learn this baseball-mom thing.
As we go past the dugout, my little “Shark” (Clark’s nickname) is sitting with his back to me. I can see his curly hair poking out from the back of his cap, and my heart skips seeing the numbers on his jersey. Number 22. My baby. “Will he have fun?” I wonder. I’m a little concerned. He’s only been four for a month…. the youngest on the team. I’ve taken him to practice and he seems to like it. Maybe we will do this next year. I don’t want to be the “pushy” parent. Let’s just see how this season goes. So many thoughts go through my mind.
April 2019. “Hurry,” my husband says. It’s senior night. This is the last regular home game of our son’s high school career. We’re at the MGC ballpark in Pascagoula. Our fifteen year old daughter is sitting in the bleachers with friends. My sister-in-law is at home watching our two-year-old. As I see the other senior moms, I notice how out of place I look. They have on white pants and dressy tops. I have on jeans. At least my shirt is Resurrection blue, our team color.
As we sit by the dugout, I see our eighteen-year-old son. I see his curly hair poking out from the back and sides of his cap. Number 25. My baby. “Is he nervous?”, I wonder. I know I am. He’s pitching tonight. He’s done this for years. I’m proud for him no matter the outcome. My hair is growing bigger exponentially in this humidity. Why didn’t I make time to buy nicer pants like the other moms? So many thoughts go through my head.
When it’s our turn to walk onto the field, Clark gives me a yellow rose and I offer my arm to him as the boys are supposed to escort their moms. Instead, he gives me a big hug, and my heart breaks a little. We walk to where his batting helmet and glove have been placed on the field. As we are walking, an announcer reads from a paper. Clark’s awards. A special quote. Plans for college. I don’t hear any of it. I’m holding back tears. When all the parents have proceeded onto the field, we take pictures. The players go to the dugout. Parents back to their seats. It’s all a blur.
I would like to thank all the coaches that have poured into Clark over the years and encouraged him. Little did I know in the spring of 2005 that we would be looking forward to Clark playing college baseball. Parents, it’s over before you can blink. Don’t take it for granted… late nights, dirty uniforms… all worth it.
Clark, if you ever read this…. I love you. I’ve never been more proud FOR you.. I’m never proud of you. You did it. Remember God, family, ball… in that order.