Hurts So Good?

When I got the email about the possibility of playing softball again for the Canadian National Team, Dave (my hubby) gave me one piece of advice:

Sleep on it.

I did that and still wasn’t sure. So, he told me to go throw a little bit to see how it feels. Honestly, I should have known that putting on my glove and throwing the ball would instantly bring back my love for the game. However, having kids has made me realize/beaten me over the head with the reality of never quite knowing what to expect. Example: vacation. That was a thing I LOVED pre-kids. With kids? Well, I guess there are no more vacations. All excursions of the sort are now called “trips.” And even then, with really little ones, I may as well just call them all “trips from hell.”

Anyway, it wasn’t too far-fetched to wonder if becoming a mother had changed how I felt about softball. Maybe I wouldn’t enjoy it the way I used to. Maybe my time was up.

So one evening when we had a few extra minutes I picked up a ball and played catch. I was surprised — no amount of diapers and up-all-nights had changed how great I felt doing this again. After all, I’m in my 30s, which basically puts me in the “elderly” category for softball. But I didn’t feel old at all as I threw. For a hot minute I actually thought I was 21 again, and probably threw a few more pitches than I should have.

Then, the next day came.

Ouch. Insert soreness here.

My age had caught up with me in just one night. I had taken off the last, oh, EIGHT YEARS, so I suppose my muscles needed some time to adjust. I would have thought three unmedicated childbirths would have increased my tolerance for pain. Ummmmm. That was clearly not the case.

Since those first pitches, I have relied on the most determined (and tallest) bullpen catcher I could ever ask for — my husband. Dave loves challenges. He also enjoys tempting fate with hand-eye coordination games, like the ones that happen when I don’t have a clue where the pitch is going and he has to try to catch it.

That’s how he found himself wearing my brother’s outfielder’s glove, squatting in not-so-great-for-catching lighting in our gym, poised to catch in front of a cinderblock wall. The fear of the ball getting behind him, smacking that wall and then striking him in the back of his head was motivation enough for Dave to turn into a Major League Baseball All Star-quality catcher.

Dave had taken his life into his own hands as I threw my way into the “body doesn’t work like it used to” phase.

Picking up the game again has meant dealing with several issues (all of which I would still take over the pain of childbirth). The list of my newfound “boo-boos” include, but aren’t limited to: my forearm, which has always been problematic, my hip, my left leg, my right arm … okay, I could go on forever. My hip and forearm were the worst — with welts and bruises from them hitting each other.

So, I did what any mother would do.

I ordered gel nipple pads. You know, the ones that nursing mothers use to ease their pain? Yes, those. I placed those on my hip and my forearm, and they worked miracles to pad the bruising. I’m thinking there should be an after-market for those pads where pitchers can get them directly from moms. No?

There have been some days that I have felt like I am losing an uphill battle against my “old” body. Sometimes, I definitely wonder what I have gotten myself into. The entire first month of my training consisted of just getting my arms and legs going again, then recovering enough to do it all again the next day. That was just my softball training. My “real” life was still waiting.

The next act: Trying to be a full-time mom, coach, athlete, and business owner. And of course learning that I simply can’t.