3 Tips to Knocking It Out of the Park
Today I want to tell you the story of Jack’s 10 year baseball career that I never thought would be possible.
Baseball is America’s pastime and I grew up being a fan of the game because my dad was a huge baseball fan. One of my favorite family vacations growing up was driving to St. Louis to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers play.
When my kids were little I wanted to provide an opportunity for them to be able to play baseball. Afterall, little boys in baseball uniforms are adorable!! This proved challenging for my oldest son who has a visual impairment as well as an intellectual disability so organized sports weren’t really an option for him. I was crushed when I realized he wouldn’t have the experience that I had dreamed of him having.
When Jack turned 7, something happened that shifted everything for our family. We heard about a new adaptive baseball park that was being built right in our city. The Miracle League was built to give every child the opportunity to play baseball and we signed Jack for that first Fall season. The field is made of rubber and can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, etc. Miracle League was exactly what we were looking for!!!
Jack played on the Yankees team and we spent 8 weeks in the Spring and 8 weeks in the Fall cheering him on!! Given his visual impairment, it was difficult for him to be able to track the ball whether he was in the field or batting. For the first few years, most everyone on his team had to use the batting T and there were also kiddos who had to use a walker.
As the kids got older and more experienced, one by one they each found their groove and were able to hit on their own (sometimes it took 20 pitches but they did it). The kids with walkers got stronger and were eventually able to navigate the bases on their own. The transformation was incredible!!
What an incredible opportunity my son was given!! After playing for 10 years, he started to grow tired of playing baseball every Saturday but because this has been our routine for so long we just kept him playing. Finally one weekend he just didn’t want to go and told me he wanted to retire from Miracle League. We only had 3 games left in the Spring season and I told him that if he finished those 3 games we could take a break from the Fall season.
He told me he just wanted to be done. Deep down I really wanted him to play one more year until he graduated from high school. So I had a decision to make. Do I listen to what he wants or do I make him play one more year?
As I reflected I realized 3 things that I needed to do:
EMBRACE. I was holding on to what I wanted for him rather than embracing the next chapter in his journey. When we have fragile children, it’s so hard to let go of being “mama bear” (a title I am proud to wear) but it’s also having the courage and the confidence to know when it’s time to trust the unknown even though it’s difficult.
EMPOWER. Instead of dwelling on what Jack doesn’t want to do I needed to empower him to identify new opportunities and TOGETHER we will find that next opportunity that excites him the way Miracle League once did.
ENCOURAGE. Encouragement has so many benefits. Jack is definitely motivated by encouragement and it is important that he knows we believe in him. Encouragement also helps boost self-confidence and provides hope. Jack’s decisions won’t always be the right ones but knowing we support him will allow him to not shy away from challenging situations.
Focusing on these 3 actions has allowed me to really embrace the next chapter in his story. In the end, it was his decision to make. He is so proud of his great 10 year Miracle League career and so are we!!
As a preemie parent is can be so daunting when decisions are made for our children that are in conflict with ones we would have made. Comment below and let me know if you have ever experienced this.