Keeping Score

Warning: sport metaphors ahead. If you’re not into baseball … please keep reading anyway. 

My son has been playing baseball almost year-round since he was seven years old. I feel like there should be a support group called Baseball Mothers Anonymous. We’d work our own set of 12 steps. Something like:

Step One: admit we’re powerless over baseball and that our weekends have become unmanageable.

Step Two: come to believe that a power greater than us (i.e. the coach, the umpire, the commissioner) could restore us to sanity.

Step Three: make the decision to turn our lives over to a higher power  … or just accept the fact that all our days and nights will now be spent sitting on bleachers, working concessions, celebrating wins, commisserating losses, and washing mud out of clothes.

You get the picture. It’s a unique club. One that I resisted joining for a long time, but now I admit defeat and proudly own it. Hi. My name’s Jennifer. I’m a baseball mom.

This year, my son moved from little league to high school ball. As players move up over the years, the fields get bigger, the rules get more sophisticated, the coaches get louder and the stakes get higher. Players have to earn playing time and starting positions. And there’s a shift from just counting wins and losses to actually keeping stats.

I volunteered to keep the back-up scorebook. I thought, “Hey, I’ve done this before. I know how to count balls and strikes. I know when to color in the little diamond to count a run. I can do this!”

But here’s the thing: keeping score at a little league game is a far cry from keeping score at the high school level. Suddenly, you’re expected to record errors, passed balls and wild pitches. There are certain symbols for called strikes and earned strikes. You have to note when someone gets caught stealing, catches a pop fly, has an unassisted out. There’s math involved. And I was told there’d be no math in life, so it’s been more difficult than I’d anticipated.

What’s really been tough for me, beyond the math, is the concept of not just keeping track of wins and losses, but keeping stats for individual players. It’s suddenly very personal. Or at least it feels that way to me. It feels like that scorebook is a big book of grievances to which players, coaches and parents can refer to determine who’s at fault for a loss.

Who’s at fault. Keeping score. Recording errors. It’s all too familiar.

Throughout my marriage, I mentally recorded basic wins and losses. I’m sure all married couples do this to a certain extent. Sometimes you win. Other days aren’t as good. Some years are great. Others are a struggle. That’s normal.

I’m the first to admit that I made some pretty bad mistakes. My husband made mistakes, too. That makes sense. We’re both human. We aren’t perfect. But somewhere along the way, we started keeping a much more detailed scorebook.

At times, I felt like the scorebook was always on display and the coach was always pointing out the bad plays. There seemed to be a culture of “you did something bad to me so now I get to act awful to you … for a long time … and hold your guilt and shame over your head … forever.”

Yeah, it wasn’t healthy. Namely because we could never get to the point where we just chalked up the loss and started a new game. We never make a concerted effort to embrace a clean, fresh page in the book with no errors, no pop flys, no called strikes, no wild pitches. Sadly, we had to end the series altogether to get a fresh start.

Now, we both are starting new games, albeit in different stadiums. He seems genuinely happier, although I know he misses his kids terribly. I’m feeling healthier and stronger by the day. We’re easier on each other when we see each other. It’s as if finally after all the years of keeping score, we just don’t have to anymore. And finally, instead of focusing on the errors and missed plays, we can look at the scorebook of our marriage and see the RBIs, the double plays and the beautiful grand slam we accomplished together: our children.

Play ball.

2 thoughts on “Keeping Score

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