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Finding Gratitude in the Midst of Muddy Cleats

11/19/2018, 12:30pm EST
By Jenn Skinner

I am a girl. A girly-girl. I like girl things. I like clean, sweet-smelling things. I like manicures and facials. I like beauty products and bubble baths. I like shopping and shoes. I REALLY like shoes. And what am I thankful for?

I am thankful for mud-caked spikes and sweaty jerseys. I'm thankful for baseball pants that I know were white when I bought them and now would take some sort of yet to be invented maximum supreme strength oxi-clean to get them back to what they used to be. I'm thankful for that wet, dirty dog smell that comes whizzing by me when they come in from playing whiffle ball in the field next to our house. 

I'm thankful for pop time drills and the thwack of the bat hitting the ball into the net in the basement. I'm thankful that I've learned about base running and the importance of getting the bunt down. I'm thankful for the slaughter rule and also for extra innings. I'm thankful for the hit, the double play, the no hitter and for the colossal error. I'm thankful for coaches and for umpires - even that guy who needed to get his eyes checked because obviously, my son was safe by a mile.

I'm thankful for the dryer vent full of sunflower seeds and the "protective" cup that some how becomes part of the kitchen table's centerpiece no matter how many times I complain about it. I'm thankful for the half empty plastic bottle that incessantly rolls around in the back of my SUV and the tell-tale blue mustache on the boy who promises it wasn't his Gatorade. I'm thankful for debates at the dinner table about who is the best shortstop of all time, the best pitcher of all time, and about the 2007 Red Sox vs. the 2013 Red Sox vs. the 2018 Red Sox. I'm thankful for ESPN even when I'd probably rather watch Entertainment Tonight.  

I'm thankful for friends who huddle close together in the bleachers with blankets and coffee even when baseball is supposed to be played by the boys of summer. And I'm thankful for ice cold towels to place on a hot catcher's neck and sunscreen and breezes when the mid-summer tournament seems as if it's being played on the surface of the sun.

I am thankful for all of the blessings that baseball has brought into my life. From lifelong friends to lifelong lessons to a gaggle of boys whose fall season has been over for exactly one week and yet who end up in my yard playing baseball in the snow because they just cannot stay away from each other or from the game they love. 

I don't have tea parties and I don't play house with dolls and I don't mind. Because I am extraordinarily grateful for three dirty, scruffy, smelly, not-so-little-anymore boys and for all of their dirty, scruffy, smelly, not-so-little-anymore friends. And I am thankful for one slightly bigger boy who has coached them and cheered them and fed them countless balls from behind an L-screen and who, on occasion, will whisper to them to tell Mom she looks pretty when he knows that she is overwhelmed by the "boyness" that surges through her home.

Happy Thanksgiving, NVTBL families. We wish you many blessings and opportunities to find gratitude in the grass stained pants and muddy cleats.

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