Breakfast, baseball and mediocre advice

Why telling our kids, “just try your best” may not be enough.

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The other morning during breakfast I overheard a conversation between my boys that stopped me mid coffee sip, which is pretty hard to do. My 6 year old said, “I’ll probably be the worst player on my baseball team.” Before I could respond my 8 year old says, “I’ll probably be the best player on my team.” I don’t remember exactly what happened next, probably a big gulp of coffee because…priorities. Then I explained to them that every team, every good team has more than one “best”-while one player might be the best catcher, another might run faster and someone else , the best batter. (By the way, this is little league and more importantly, Mommy speak, technical positions don’t apply here.)  I promised my younger son that with practice he’d find his strength, or his best and he’d use it to make his team better. He’s six so he was over it before I even opened my mouth.

But the conversation really stuck with me. It got me thinking about my own life and how I’m using my best qualities or gifts to make my “team” better? After all isn’t that why we all have a unique combination of talents and gifts – to use them to fill in the gaps of our social circles, our families, our careers? The answer is I’m not, at least not actively. Frankly, I feel like most days I’m going through life on auto-pilot. (Right now I’m imagining my boys faces had I told them to show up to baseball practice, do the bare minimum and *POOF, they’d be the best on the team. I don’t know why this is funny to me.) Sorry, squirrel moment.

So in the spirit of leading by example, I’m gonna commit to actively sharing the best of myself. Corporate America may not have a paying job for my talents but I like to think that my “team” has a need for them. My type-A husband needs more of my fun-loving, free-spirit than I’m offering these days. My younger son, who was very recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, needs my craftiness and creativity right now more than ever. (I mean!! Have you ever tasted gluten-free bread?) Growing up in a family of very passionate Latino women, I’ve always prided myself in my restraint and patience and my dyslexic son deserves all the patience God knows I don’t always give him. And at the end of the day, giving all of my best, being my best will not only improve my “team” but it will bring me back to my center. And because I appreciate a story that comes full circle, I’ll tell you that at the end of the week, we showed up to baseball practice and my little guy did great. He walked away feeling good about himself and his team and before we got to our car, an older boy, the coaches son said to me, “Is that your son? He’s fast! Maybe the fastest one on the team.”

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