To say that the beginning of the school year is busy would be a terrible understatement. I have barely had time to sit down, much less read or write — unless I’m working on lesson plans or an assignment for class. But it wouldn’t be completely fair to blame my lack of posting on school and work. It’s probably more accurate to say I’ve been wrestling with how to write about this without sounding whiny or completely passive aggressive.
I got some much-needed clarity today from the sermon at church. But again, to avoid sounding preachy and to be completely fair, the sermon just reinforced an article I read and I Harry Potter quote I’ve had on my mind a lot lately. Bear with me as this may come off as a little stream of consciousness, but I’ll do my best to attempt to bring it full circle.
Parenting is hard. For an over-thinker like myself, the tendency to get my feelings hurt on behalf of a little person who used to be a part of my body is, at times, overwhelming. I would venture to say that about 90% of the hurt feelings I’ve sustained in the past nine years have been something to do with the kids. So when some baseball drama unfolded, in rushed the hurt feelings. Here’s where childhood innocence is such a blessing. Talan’s feeling weren’t hurt nearly as bad as mine and Joe’s. He shrugged his shoulders and, with only a couple of questions, went about his business totally unaware that he was being treated poorly. Kids have few expectations, and therefore fewer disappointments. It must be nice.
Joe and I (and a couple of the other parents) were not that easily appeased. It pretty much consumed our conversations for several weeks. In a way it still does. When someone you respect and care for a great deal lets you down, the hurt is hard for anyone to wrestle with. Then, throw in an over-analyzer like myself, and things can really snowball. Here I am upset, and they clearly don’t care nearly as much as I do! What’s wrong with me that I can’t just let things go as easily as they can? Was I seeing friendship where there clearly wasn’t any? Am I wrong about other friendships too? Much of this overthinking can be chalked up to my struggle with change, and this situation posed a great change for Talan as a ballplayer, and for the comfort we’d come to know at the ballpark.
Enter the wisdom of a friend’s mother. I asked my friend to relay her sage advice. It went like this: “Good riddance. When people leave this way, it’s a blessing and will allow for growth in the future.” Because I’ve always thought of this woman as especially astute, I wasn’t surprised to find that her advice went hand-in-hand with an NPR article that hit pretty close to home. Basically, I’m not doing Talan any favors by having my feelings hurt on his behalf. To find these hurtful people and give them a piece of my mind (which is kind of what I’d been fantasizing about) would send the wrong message to my child and hinder him from learning a valuable life lesson through this experience. By gracefully embracing the new opportunity that came from this, I am teaching him to dust himself off and grow from setbacks. (And I’m probably saving him the embarrassment of having the crazy confrontational mom too.)
So here we are, third week of new-baseball-opportunity practicing, and Talan is thriving. He is having a blast. He’s getting attention. People are kind. He is learning so much. But guess what? I’m still wrestling with my own anger. Perhaps the struggle really was more about my own expectations to begin with. But I seriously cannot wrap my mind around how they can be that dishonest and unkind. Shouldn’t someone call them out as they pretend to be such good people but have left quite the path of drama behind them? Well, according to today’s sermon, NO.
The sermon, on the surface, was about how people can be as clean as they want to be on the outside, but sin comes from within us all. Nothing on the outside of us makes us sin; rather, we choose to do these things because of human nature. (The preacher went on to make the point that it is only through prayer, study, and community with other believers that we can repair the sin we all have inside us; however, I’m taking this in a different direction for personal application.) Only by being mindful of our choices, can we be become better people. But what about when others make damaging choices? Immediately, I thought of our baseball situation. Yes, they chose to act in a way that was hurtful to several people they were close to. No, they do not seem to be that sorry for it. But I have no control over what they do. Here’s what I do have control over: the way I react to their hurtful behavior. I can choose to be angry and dwell on this, or I can choose to watch my son be loved and appreciated in this new opportunity. I think it’s pretty clear what I should do. I’ve got to ignore the tendencies within myself to dwell on the negative, ignore the mama-bear part of me that needs to expose their sneakiness, and make the choice to allow Talan to thrive as a person.
So, in all this discussion and reflection on choice, I couldn’t help but here the voice of Albus Dumbledore in my head. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” And that’s exactly right. We are defined by the way we choose to treat people and the way we choose to react to how we’re treated. We cannot control the way other people treat us or our children. We cannot make them be better; only they can do that. When faced with hard situations, we’re also faced with a choice. We can choose to be mad, we can choose to be confrontational, we can choose to respond to hurt with more hurt (because sometimes that is very tempting), or we can choose joy. So I am choosing joy for my child and for myself. Here’s to the best fall ball season yet.