Right smack in her upper left thigh.
It was her second at-bat in this particular game, but the first time she'd ever truly been hit by a fast-pitch while standing in the batter's box. She took a few steps, dropped her bat and grimaced. She was mad. Then the hot tears came. The pain and the anger were clear for all to see as my nine-year-old hobbled toward first base.
When she got there, she was met by her coach, a.k.a. "Daddy". He spoke with her for a second, checking to see if she was okay. I couldn't hear him, but did manage to hear her say, "I can't. It hurts!" Rubbing her stinging leg and fighting back the tears, she stepped onto first base, poised to steal second, which she did successfully.
A minute later, she tried to steal third base. But whether it was the throbbing in her leg or absentmindedness, she didn't slide, which is strange because she always slides if she knows it's going to be a close play. Because she didn't get down, she was thrown out. (And for the record, she has yet to be thrown out this whole season.)
|Safely sliding under the tag in a previous game.|
"So...what happened out there?"
"First I struck out! Then I got hit! Then I got tagged out! I DON'T like to get out!"
I attempted to calm her down as best I could while I listened to her frustration. Then softly I said, "Mama said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this, Mama said."
As helpful as I thought my words were, I'm fairly certain she didn't agree. As a matter of fact, I believe I detected a slight eye-roll behind the mask and beneath the shades.
I reminded her to keep her self-control in check, take the frustration she was feeling and put it into playing defense the rest of the inning.
This is Grace's sixth season playing softball. She's always enjoyed the game, but her love and interest in it has grown ten fold recently.
And I know exactly why.
It began the afternoon we took her to her first game at the University of Georgia softball stadium to watch the Lady Dawgs play.
It grew even more at the next game she attended, when both her team and her sister's team got to tour the locker room and then walk onto the field with the UGA players for the pre-game ceremonies.
And it hit an all-time high when she got to meet and get her glove and t-shirt signed by Geri Ann Glasco, the first baseman and her favorite UGA player, after the last game we attended.
|Grace & Geri Ann|
She wears her signed t-shirt constantly. She's analyzed the UGA softball program. She's memorized every player from the team poster hanging on her door. She was even excited to write about UGA softball and Geri Ann for her descriptive writing assignment a few weeks ago here at home.
Since then, all we've heard is how much she wants to be like her. She wants to hit just like her and she wants to play first base just like her. She even wants to play for UGA just like her. And she wants to do it all today.
We think it's great she has a softball
But here's where we aren't too pleased--when she sets up unrealistic expectations for herself and then beats herself up when she doesn't meet them now.
I mean, come on. Grace is nine. Geri Ann is nineteen. Grace has played the game for six seasons and Geri Ann, well, way more than that. Grace is a good athlete, but who's only had limited coaching and experience so far. Geri Ann has combined her natural talent with years of specific, individualized training and hard work. As best I could, I tried to explain this concept to our girl as we drove home.
"Grace, you gotta give yourself some grace. Geri Ann has had years and years of training and practice. Don't worry about being like her today and don't get disappointed because you aren't. Stop comparing yourself to her abilities and accomplishments today. Just be the best player you can be right now. I promise you'll enjoy playing softball a whole lot more."
But in midst of speaking those very words, I suddenly realized how much I could relate to her. I totally get those darned expectations.
Silently or unknowingly I have heaped them upon myself and then felt angry or depressed when I didn't meet them. When I have wanted (so badly) to do something someone else has done or have something it took someone else years to obtain, I have felt disappointed. Maybe I needed more practice developing my skills or maybe I needed to wait for more time to pass. Or maybe I needed to drop it altogether.
Whenever and whatever the reason, I need to extend grace to myself. I need to take my own advice about the expectations I place on myself sometimes as a woman, as a wife, as a mom, etc. I just need to be the best version of me God is shaping me to be right now. Goals are great. Mentors are wonderful. But when I quit comparing myself to others and contentedly just be me right now, I find I enjoy this game of life a whole lot more.
And you, friend? Ever heaped an extra helping of those darned expectations upon yourself? If not, please share your victories or your secrets for extending grace to yourself while battling the comparison game.