My 13-year-old daughter has been playing softball since she was seven and had a pink bat and pink socks and a pink helmet with her initials on the front. So, she’s stepped to the plate under pressure before.
I’ll never forget when she was ten and hit a walk-off home run. Everyone cheered. I beat on the fence and proclaimed, “That’s my girl!” We went to get ice cream and I posted all about it on Facebook. She fell asleep that night with smeared eye black and a smile on her face.
This week, though, she stepped up to the plate as the third out in the last inning and hit right to shortstop. Before she even made it to first base, the ump called ballgame, the opposing team cheered and we were put out of the World Series.
My girl isn’t a sore loser. She never has been. But I saw the tears streaming down her face as she ran back to the dugout and I knew what she was thinking.
“If only I had hit a little bit harder. In the center of the ball. Head down. Turned my hips. If only I had done one little thing differently, we would’ve stayed in the game. We drove six hours for this tournament but my out is sending us home.”
The girls met with the coaches right outside the dugout and several of them had red, watery eyes. She’s blessed to be on an encouraging and supportive team who both win and lose together, but I knew she still bore the burden alone.
When they were done meeting, she stood up and saw me. To my surprise, she dropped her catcher’s bag and ran into my arms just like when she was three and skinned her knee.
With her head buried in my chest and tears flowing, I whispered words of encouragement to her. I cried at her heartbreak but reminded her of who she is in Christ. I reminded her that there were two outs before her. I told her this won’t matter in a day or two. And then I just held her and let her cry.
I thought of my own mother in that moment. I haven’t seen her since she went to be with Jesus in 2015, but I remembered running to her arms when there were bullies on the playground. Clinging to her when a zit-faced boy broke my heart. Sobbing in her lap when my miscarriage was confirmed.
My mother’s arms erased my grief. Mama was a safe place to land. She offered an embrace of grace. I always ran to my mother like I was three with a skinned knee.
This girl of mine—she doesn’t invite me in her room as much anymore. She’d rather hang out with her friends than watch TV with me on a Friday night. On her birthday, she wants make-up palettes instead of My Little Ponies. She’s nearly as tall as me and we buy her jeans in the women’s department now.
But in that moment, in her heartbreak and whirlwind of emotions, she just wanted her mama.
And though the loss of a softball game was bitter, that moment we shared was sweet.
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