Having never played sports myself (save a short stint on a field hockey team in which I realized I liked the cute uniforms more than the actual game), this world of middle school and high school athletics I find myself immersed in remains a mystery to me. I attended an informational meeting with fifty other parents for my daughter’s softball team, and I left more confused than when I arrived. Words like dugouts and club teams and “no excuses” were thrown about willy-nilly. I thought it was some sort of perverse joke when they asked for a good portion of my time and even more of my money to stave off ” the cannibalization of school sports by club teams!!!”
I’m sorry, what?
I had no idea what this meant or why everyone nodded and furiously wrote notes-to-self on their sheets of paper. Who knew people took this so seriously? Then my son signed up for club lacrosse and my youngest for Girls on the Run, and the pieces of my athletically puzzled brain snapped into place. My life is slowly being cannibalized by all manner of team sports. I asked my husband why all of this is such a big deal, and he said once most kids reach high school, they’ve reached the pinnacle of their performance. This is it, it’s the last time they’ll play, the last time they’ll be a part of a team in this way.
I flashed back to the dads at the softball meeting, with their round bellies and thinning hair. I heard the excitement in their voices, their rising chatter surrounding the potential of their girls and The Team. A few moms joined in too, but most of them slunk low in their chairs, knowing the start of another season meant fitting one more thing in their overtaxed schedule.
I think back to that afternoon and I wonder when these moms and dads felt like they reached the pinnacle. Was it during their final season, when life unfolded like an open field waiting for them to run? Was it the decade before their bodies turned soft, their mother hips widening to allow the world to pass through? Maybe they reached it when they hung up their hard-earned diploma or when they walked up the aisle to say “I do” before realizing years later, they actually don’t.
I remember my husband’s words and I think about myself too. I don’t think I’ve reached my pinnacle yet. That’s not completely true. After trying on swimsuits this week, I can say my body certainly has seen greater heights, but as to reaching my potential as a human being? I can’t envision that peak. I know it hides there, shrouded behind the clouds. I strive for this unknown height, gaining strength from other summits I’ve reached along the way–the marriage, the mothering, the world-wandering, and the marathons.
This much is true for me and probably for you too: my life is cannibalized by ball schedules. By dishes. By laundry and gravity and the bittersweet aftertaste of the mundane. These ordinary things are part of the path leading to the next summit. The stuff of my everyday become the mile markers I count along the way. They keep my feet planted in this good and dirty earth, when my head wants to live in the clouds.
Do you feel like you’ve reached the pinnacle? What are you still working towards? What is your latest summit?