Once upon a steamy weekend, a bawdy band of stinky 10-year old boys in baseball uniforms, wearing cleated footwear and dreaming about the thrill of victory, lit upon a diamond filled with their fellow dudes in Oxnard.
Through a barrage of bats, balls, gloves and brawn, they won. Yee haw. And that’s all you need to know about them in this story. OK, yeah, they’re advancing to a new division after they get to the orthodontist for an adjustment, after they’ve thrown around gritty buzzwords of America’s favorite pastime faster than the Mets lose games.
What you really need to know is how they made it this far. How, we ask, does this exceptional moment in Conejo Valley Little League history come to fruition? The answer is simple. It’s Mom.
Hey Madre, Momma, Ma or Mammacita—she answers to anything and she delivers the goods. Yes, sports fans, solving the secret to athletic achievement means the X-factor is the lady who’s needed a mani-pedi for over a month.
Because in a world of entitled wimps, these powerful women are the Navy Seals of motherhood. Instead of M16s, they wield spatulas to whip up eggs and bacon at 5 in the morning when the little stinker’s got a 7 a.m. game in Chino.
Before the twerp steps out of bed, the lineup is rolling: squeaky clean uniform with holes repaired to the best of their ability—or not, water bottles, snacks, bat, glove, belt, fresh underwear, change of socks, sunblock and oh, here’s a gift to thank the coach.
These are the rangers who direct a load of cranky, cleated kids into their behemoth SUVs. These are the maternal studs who convert snarky, Skittles addicted, Fortnite-obsessed 10-year- old-boys into focused competitors who have the courage to slide, the power to throw and the dignity to tip their hats at the end of the game.
Bravo. A veritable feat of feminine stupendosity, a word I invented just for sports moms.
Heart, you say, the kids have heart, they have class and grit. Last I looked, those things weren’t on the shelves at Target or available at Amazon Prime. It’s trickle-down character, it’s passed on and squeezed into every second, every minute of the day from the lady who tests you on your spelling and double checks your math before you can go to practice.
As we all know, life is not a highlight film of home runs and touchdowns. It’s learning to deal with the nuts and grunts to take on the Hacksaw Ridges of daily life. Does it take a stinkin’ village? No baby, it takes a battalion.
Ridges or no ridges, you don’t know domestic terrorism until you’ve been a mom. The onslaught never ends. “I don’t want to go to practice. I’m tired and my braces hurt.” “Why are there blueberries in my Cheerios?” and “Coach never plays me.” “Coach says I’m not loading early enough.”
That’s when Mom ponders, “Gosh, on the loading thing, it’s too early for my version so better ask Dad on that one.”
They say boys are less dramatic than girls but they’re harder to keep alive. At last glance, I caught the frequently pregnant daughter heaving ice-cold bottles of water into the dugout along with a bucket of icy neck wraps for a bunch of sweaty boys.
With unending patience, even though you’d like to shoot the little creeps, moms forge onward to the field, after a stop at Target and Trader Joe’s, another visit to Dick’s, and maybe oh maybe, to get that long overdue mani-pedi.
And so this story is for the moms of every little jock in America, girl or boy. It’s for the moms who love generously, who care deeply, who cheer respectfully, and who leave the rest to a baseball-loving God who is always on our side.