My son has decided, he won’t play baseball this year. “I don’t have to be a player to be involved in the game,” he told me. “Harry Caray never played, Theo Epstein was never a professional player.”
He’ll be ten next week and the limiting of options has started. MLB player has been crossed off the list.
It’s not that I thought he could become a professional baseball player, but he believed he could. For ten years he’s believed he could be anything he wanted, and now he doesn’t. He still believes he can become a professional football or soccer or hockey player. He still believes he could be general manager of a baseball team, but he no longer believes that he can become a professional baseball player. It’s one small item crossed off the list.
He’s not quitting baseball just because it’s no longer necessary for his professional future. Over the past couple of years, as he’s moved from t-ball to coach pitch and kid pitch, it’s gotten less fun. Baseball is a lot of pressure and a lot of work and this is not a kid that likes pressure. Much to my chagrin, he’s like me. He’s not a kid that likes to work hard, he’s not a kid that puts pressure on himself to achieve. “Baseball just isn’t my forte,” he told me, and so we move on. He hasn’t found the thing that will get him to keep trying even when it’s hard. I’m not surprised, at 47, neither has his mother.
As he gives up his dreams of third base, I’m having my own career crisis. Content and comfortable and so, so, so lucky that I make money doing what I do, from my house, but missing something, a drive or a purpose, the thing that will make me want to try just a little harder. The first thing I remember “wanting to be” when I grew up was a gas station attendant. I liked the idea of wearing coveralls, of getting dirty and not having to clean up, of getting to spend my day talking to all the different people that would come in to the gas station.
I think I wanted to be a movie star or an actress after that, a lawyer at one point, then a psychiatrist. I wanted to be an ambassador and an arts administrator. I wanted to own a hotel. I have a BA in Philosophy, an MA in English. It’s not a background that screams, “Here’s your job, this is what you were meant to do.”
I still love the idea of wearing the same clothes every day and talking to strangers, but unless I move to New Jersey or Oregon, there’s not a lot of future in pumping gas.
So my boy and I are moving in to new phases. He’s going double digits and with that, I’m no longer the mother of little kids. He is giving up baseball and I no longer have an excuse to spend a spring day sitting in a field chatting with friends. I need to find something other than him and his sister to devote my energy to.
He is growing up and I am growing older and I hope there’s time for us both to discover that passion.