As the mother of TWO beautiful baby girls, I'm discovering how to make "Ashley's kitchen" into "Mama's kitchen." You know, like the kind in old movies and nostalgic country songs. Mama's kitchen - where everyone gathers to enjoy good food, weekend brunches, family dinners, and make lasting memories. That is my destination, and this is my journey.
Ah, the joys of reliving the dream! Getting to re-experience so many wonderful moments and milestones through your kids can be such a rewarding and sentimental experience. Now I know what many of you are thinking - be careful trying to recreate your childhood and expecting your kids to love it. I know, I know, it's a slippery slope, but hear me out. My kids are very young, very impressionable, and now is the time that we should be instilling values in their tiny hearts and minds. Why not give them the building blocks of some of the most rewarding and formative experiences of our childhoods?
Michael and I loved being athletes. It defined us for so many years and shaped many aspects of our personalities and friendships. Recently, I wrote a letter to my high school softball coach as part of a book to congratulate him on his 600th win (No, that's not a typo. Yes, he's a rock star). Taking time to write it gave me a chance to reflect on why softball was and is so important to me. And why I want so desperately to share it with my girls.
Yes, I get frustrated when she doesn't swing hard or spends half an inning playing in the dirt. Yes, I want her to do better and I want her to want to do better. Yes, I understand that she's only 4. Yes, I realize my expectations will always be too high. Yes, I cheer like mad when the coach happens to hit her bat with a pitch (aka she hits the ball). Yes, it was her idea to play this year. Yes, I tell her she's doing a good job when she tries. Yes, I try to relate to her by telling her to run the bases like a cheetah. Yes, I expect her to pay attention, listen to her coach, and be respectful. Yes, I understand that she's only 4. Yes, I am her biggest fan (correction, second biggest fan, after Grandma). I am a super proud, super passionate, super driven person. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, that also translates into parenthood.
Will both of my daughters be college softball players? Not likely. Will they be athletes in general? Maybe. Hopefully. Really, really hopefully. If you're still not convinced, take a look at my letter to my former coach and see why I'm more than eager to relive this dream while my girls find their own version of living the dream:
Congrats on 600 wins!I swear it was just yesterday that I was congratulating you on 500, but
that doesn’t surprise me either.I’m
pretty excited that my oldest daughter started softball this year.She’s only 4, spends most of the time playing
in the dirt, and the games are run more like a practice, but I’m so eager to
share this part of my life with her.Not
because I’m trying to relive my childhood – I know I’ll never play another
conference game or wear a Lady Braves uniform again.I want her to play because of the part of
softball I carry with me off the field.You taught me to manage a field, call the shots, and deal with the
consequences.You taught me how to lead
by example, how to empower others, and how to handle both celebration and
heartbreak with grace.You also taught
me about trust and sacrifice, knowing I would never beat out a bunt; but in
return, letting me (occasionally) swing away at my favorite 3-0 pitch.Just last week, I closed a cover letter with
a softball analogy – 10 years later, softball still holds some of my most
formative memories and defines so many aspects of my character.
I know that it’s never “just another 100 wins” or “just
another year” because you are playing a part in shaping the lives of a whole
generation of softball players, well beyond their high school years. Congratulations on #600 and thanks again for
all you do for our alma mater and community.
Who wouldn't want those things for their children? So before you accuse me or any other parent of trying to relive their glory days through their kids, stop and consider why. Maybe it is for all the wrong reasons. Or, just maybe, it's for all the right ones.