When I became a Mom I became obsessed with taking pictures, and as a result you have pretty much had a camera in your face since birth. Yep, pretty much your entire life exists on memory cards and in “clouds”. Snap, snap, snap….I have captured all your moments.
Especially baseball. Baseball is your “thing”. A Mom experiences a certain feeling when she sees her child do something they were born to do for the first time. I got that feeling the first time you picked up a bat and ball.
You and baseball are like peanut butter & jelly – sure you could exist without the other but why would you when you are so good together? Baseball is your first love. You eat, sleep, breathe, dream baseball. In preschool, you proudly declared to an audience of picture snappers that when you grew up you were going to be a baseball player. You wear the #9 in honor of your Great Grandma whose last words to you were “Go be a great baseball player”.
Baseball is your passion.
And because you are your mother’s son, you have a never-ending desire to be “good” at baseball. “Do you think I did good Mom?” “Do you think the coaches thought I did good today?”. These are always your questions I get when you come out of the dugout.
You have an obsession with being good.
But, to be fair, we all do. We all want to be good. So as a result you love to look at your “I’m good” moments in your baseball album on my computer. I was there when you were the only 4 year old on a team of 8 year olds (Snap!) When you got your first hit without a tee (Snap!) When you made your first All-star Team (Snap!), your first home run (DOUBLE SNAP!) and when you made your first travel ball team (Snap!)
You love looking at those moments…most likely because pictures are tangible things, something real to show you what you desire the most…that you are good.
Tonight I sat down to edit hundreds of pictures I had taken of you from a weekend of baseball. You were in a tournament against some tough teams and in my true form I captured every moment I could.
I sat down to edit the pictures – the “good” moments were everywhere. Oh that catch! Oh that amazing stretch! Smile after smile, I flew through all your amazing moments.
And then a picture hit my screen…
This was not one of your “I’m good” moments….no quite the opposite…
This was from THAT inning.
It was the championship game against our rivals and the starting pitcher got into some trouble. You came in. You strutted on the field confident based on the fact you have been pitching amazing this year. You have been working on developing your pitching a lot – you take lessons, you work with Dad. You practice every moment you can so that when the time comes for you to take the mound – you are “good”. I have no doubt that as you walked out to that mound you envisioned yourself saving the game and bringing your team to victory. I mean you pitched fantastic the day before so another “good moment” coming right up….
But like I said, this wasn’t one of those moments.
This was an inning where you struggled. You struggled hard. In fact you didn’t even get to finish the inning due to walking each batter that came to the plate. Things were not coming easy and you couldn’t find the strike zone.
I kept staring at the picture. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. This was not my confident baller who knew he was “good”…this was my little lost boy who in that moment thought he was anything but good.
I edited the picture and saved it into your baseball album. This was a picture I wanted you to remember, maybe even more than all your beloved “good” moments.
Why would I want to save a picture of a moment you want to forget?
Well, my son, next time you want to look at baseball pictures for proof that you are good, this is going to be the first picture I pull out.
Because this is the picture that PROVES you are good.
I know, that makes no sense…how could a picture of a “bad moment” prove that you are good?
Well, let me explain…
First of all, you at age 9 are too young to know what “good” is. In fact, I take that back because adults don’t even know what it means to be “good”. Good is such a relative term. It is simply a matter of opinion.
So I don’t know what good means, but I do know what you think it means, and which it most certainly does NOT mean…
Good does not mean PERFECT.
Spoiler alert! Perfection does not exist. You cannot be perfect. It cannot happen no matter how bad you want it or how hard you try. So no, you will never be a perfect baseball player, but that does not mean you aren’t good.
You are good.
If you weren’t good, you would not notice any difference between a good moment and a bad moment. You know you pitched bad today simply because you have pitched good before. Bad moments like these show you how to recognize the good. Remember, you need the rain to see the rainbow.
Moments like these, although painful, serve an important purpose, because these are the moments that make you good. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s look at the facts…
Every time you get knocked down you learn what’s it like to bounce back. Only the good guys bounce back.
You are good even though you didn’t strike out a single person in that inning simply because you tried. Half those people watching that game could not have come out to that pressure. You walked out in a stressful situation and tried. Only good people try in the face of adversity.
So, you are good in your good innings, you are good in your bad.
You are good because you learn. I know in your heart you are Anthony Rizzo, but you are only 9 years old. You are just at the start of the journey, still so much to learn. The fact that you are willing to learn…to listen to so many different people telling you how to do things makes you good. Only good people continue to learn.
And I know at this age you get a ton of corrections, a ton of “You are doing it wrong, do it this way…”, but remember people don’t correct people when they think they can’t do something. People aren’t going to waste their time if they think you can’t do it. So, remember each time someone tells you that you are doing something wrong, that only means they know you are good enough to get it right next time. So in a strange way, a correction is one of the highest forms of compliment.
You are good because you didn’t let this moment define you. Sure you came out of the game and sat with tears in your eyes in the dugout. But you didn’t crumble. Nope, you went back out on first base the next inning and did your thing. You got up.
So let’s get this question answered for you once and for all. YOU ARE GOOD.
But here’s the deal, you are never going to feel like you are good if you keep looking to others to gauge their opinion of a situation. That whole inning you looked at your coaches and your Dad and I trying to gauge our reaction to your pitching to see if it was as bad as you thought. Don’t do that. The secret to life is looking inside of yourself for the answer as to whether you are good.
And shh….don’t tell anyone, but that’s the real tricky part that even your Mama struggles with from time to time.
At 9, you don’t have the ability to see the good in yourself yet. But it will come in time. It will come from enduring moments like these.
I want to tell you this will be the worst inning of your baseball career. I want to tell you that you are going to strike out every batter that comes up to the plate. I want to tell you that no one is going to ever invade your favorite place in the world, first base.
But I can’t. People will get by you, balls will be dropped, strike zones will be missed. That’s life. I can’t shield you from the negative aspects of the game. Just like life those moments are inevitable. They are not just likely to happen they WILL happen.
So expect the bad plays, deal with them, and don’t let those moments shape how you feel about yourself.
Don’t let these moments stop you from thinking you are good.
My son, my wish for you is that you will learn to see how good you truly are. It’s in there. It’s the voice that makes you dust off your baseball pants and come in that next inning stronger than before. Use these moments to see that you can fail, and get up again, stronger, more confident, and ready. Use these moments to make you hungry for growth, improvement, betterment. Use these moments to remind yourself that being good doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.
I have no doubt that you will not remember this game when you are older. You won’t remember the score, or how many walks you had, and even the sting of being taken out will be erased from your memory. But I have this picture. It will be there for you in the moments when you question yourself. I’ll show it to you in the hopes that one day you will smile and say:
I was good.
Love your #1 fan: Mom