“It’s all about the timing,” I instructed my oldest daughter earlier this summer as I was attempting to help her learn to pitch fast-pitch softball. “If you release the ball too soon, the pitch is too low. If you release it too late, the pitch goes high. The timing of your release has to be just right.”
As I watched her practice, I admired her bravery and determination. At age 11, this was her first time in the league where kids pitch instead of coaches. She could have chosen a “safe” position in the outfield or even played third base because she has a very strong arm. Not her. She chose the most pressure laden position on the field - pitcher. If you are not familiar with softball or baseball, I will tell you that the entire game often rests on the shoulders of the pitcher. I know because I was a softball pitcher in high school. Bad pitches mean the other team gets hits and runs. Great pitches mean you strike out the batters and the other team doesn’t get on base very often. Of course, your teammates have to field the ball well and get some hits, too, in order to win, but the spotlight is focused on the pitcher’s mound right there in the center of the field where you stand. Every single play begins with you.
Being a mom often feels like standing on that pitcher’s mound. It feels like everything depends on you. We have to “toss the ball” just right, if you will, to ensure the success of our children. If we parent too tightly, our children will suffocate. If we parent too loosely, our children will run wild. We worry about sleep training, potty training, discipline strategies, choosing the right education, getting our children to eat healthy foods, and the list goes on and on. We expect ourselves to be perfect.
The truth is, that’s just not possible. In softball and baseball, there is a phenomenon known as the perfect game. In a perfect game, not a single player for the other team gets on base. This requires no walks, no hits, no fielding errors, and no hit batters. No mistakes.
Do you know how rare it is to pitch a perfect game? The first perfect game recorded in Major League history happened in 1880. In the 134 years since then, only 23 pitchers have pitched a perfect game. Let that sink in. In all the games that have ever been played in the over 130 years, only 23 pitchers have achieved perfection.
As parents, we have grand expectations of ourselves and we should. We are shaping precious, young lives with everything we do and everything we say. However, we also need to remind ourselves that perfection is rare and nearly impossible to attain. We will make mistakes and, occasionally, our timing will be off. That’s okay. We give our kids the best we have to offer and we love them no matter what. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful and it’s more than enough to win the game in the end.