Counting the Years in Baseball Uniforms

A mother reflects on how quickly time flies when raising a family

two boys in white and green baseball uniforms

This spring I realized that the march of time isn’t measured in books I’ve read or places I’ve seen. There’s no long mental list of experiences to collect. My future isn’t a fuzzy hopeful cloud; it’s right here, right now and it surrounds me every day.

Having children has made the passage of time much easier to measure. It’s marked by the piles of outgrown clothes in my basement and lonely yellowed toys in my yard. It’s marked by new teachers, book reports and science projects, by places we used to live, parks we visited and schools we attended. And in spring, it’s marked by baseball. 

Over the years, a family expands. Those are the exhausting years — years when it feels like every ounce of energy is invested in that expansion. It’s a time of reigning in chaos.

But now I realize how a family also contracts. Some friends we simply outgrow. We start to see their once familiar faces only at the grocery store. 

I grin as I try to keep up with the laundry and as I fold this year’s baseball uniforms over and over again. I smile because I now see that someday those uniforms will be crumpled and forgotten in the back of a drawer.

Our kids will move on, too. Their rooms will empty. Toys will return to bookcases and eventually, to boxes. The chaos will fade into quiet. These years seem closer to me now than those of organizing a nursery, assembling cribs and changing diapers.

Throughout, the days have an exasperating habit of marching forward with complete disregard to my thoughts or needs. Time is not concerned with what I may or may not be ready for.

A friend’s last day with her son was the exact same length as all the days before. Days when his lungs danced and his legs ran and his arms moved like rivers. How dare those days not give her some hint of their remarkable beauty. Could they not have stretched themselves even a tiny bit to let her better remember them? How does time have the gall to keep going when her son is no longer here?

We cannot stop time but we can stop ourselves. We can give ourselves the gift of realizing where we are and when. Do not take that for granted. Do not go by eyes shut, just waiting for the next big moment. Inhale the beauty of this day and this time.

I try to do this, to stay calm and to focus. I watch the ribbon of play, disagreement and compromise as my sons continue to unspool it. I grin as I try to keep up with the laundry and as I fold this year’s baseball uniforms over and over again. I smile because I now see that someday those uniforms will be crumpled and forgotten in the back of a drawer.

Today, though, today is here. It is spring and there are two boys who need my attention. We put out our blanket and sit in the sun. We pop our umbrella and huddle on a bench. We have one more season. One more year.

A coach shouts, “Play ball!” And we do. 

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