“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~George Bernard Shaw
I was beginning to feel quite drained from the monotony of the long winter coupled with how serious I had become as a mother. It’s nearly impossible, really, to keep from worrying and over thinking when you have your first child, for fear of the vast unknown. It was for me anyway. But I have always been one to mull an issue over and over. Since I was young, I would evaluate nearly every choice presented to me and debate with myself how making this choice or that would or possibly could affect me or those I love in the future. It’s responsible. Although, when you’re too riddled with worry over making the “wrong” decision and don’t have the forte of exceptional problem solving skills, it becomes responsible, but exhausting. Tie in a lack of sleep, and that’s where you had me.
Being a stay at home mom of a six month old baby girl is delightful on so many fronts, but there are also challenges that we face. When you are at home alone with your child all day long, from the 15 minutes before the sun rises until daddy turns that door knob, it can be difficult to find child appropriate and stimulating activities interesting enough for you as the adult to fill your day. In short: you get bored at times.
So, that being said, I was again mulling over the obvious pros and cons of the upcoming volleyball season that my husband enjoyed being a part of. I, of course wanted him to have that outlet but also knew I needed it too. And to be honest, at that moment, I didn’t want any more alone time with my baby than we already had. I looked forward everyday to daddy coming home so the weight of the boredom could be shared. Either that, or maybe he could help me spend the rest of our day together in a more captivating way. I had mentioned months earlier wanting to play on the team, since there was an opening this year, but me being me, needed to first find a babysitter every week for two hours at a time. The way I naturally think, that responsibility comes first, signing up follows and since I hadn’t come up with a steady caregiver, there was no more talk of such things.
You can imagine my shock and instant worry over how it will work out when my husband informed me that he signed us up for volleyball. He is a genius really, because I never would have had that kind of foresight. Within a couple hours of him telling me the news, I had found our caregiver for those nights. Problem solved. As we embark on our last game of volleyball for the season tonight, I want to take a moment to reflect on the team I’ve loved being a part of.
First of all, having the team we do has made for a plethora of emotions emerging on any given night. Let me paint the picture, starting with our men. An atheist, a christian, and Quagmire walk into a bar. Wait...a hunter, a fisherman, and a vegan walk into a bar. What else...three somewhat narcissistic, comedic, good hearted guys all bigger in size (in their minds) than their five foot something frames would suggest (with exception of one who is six foot something) believe week in week out that they are trying out for the olympic team and really share an underlying belief that without the women getting in their way, they three, or each alone could carry the team.
It’s impressive really, how these three literally rise to the occasion. The six footer plus is our go to guy who covers the net like no ones business. He arrogantly tips the ball over the net, into a spot no one expects or sees coming, as he’s got his back turned and does this so nonchalantly. It actually seems like this feat is no more difficult for him than taking a breath of air or letting out a “giggity”. His superiority sometimes casts a stifling heat over the ladies on the team.
Then there’s the bruiser. He’s all over the court, nearly running over the girls to save the game from total ruin as he forcefully sends the ball back over the net at whoever is so unlucky. This one also has been our savior at the net, just not as stealth. Like I said, he’s the bruiser. He literally once ran his own teammate over, resulting in a knee surgery. Also, not the most reliable when it comes to calling the ball in or out. In such cases of hearing his voice shout those words, I have come to trust my own judgement. He is very passionate on the court and lives to have fun with the game!
Finally, theres the one who dives everywhere. Always eating sand, digging it out of parts unknown, he dives for the impossible, landing his body in a host of uncomfortable looking positions. Yet miraculously, he manages to hit the ball in such a way, that it so gracefully lands in bounds on the opposite side where ANYONE else who attempted such would find the ball soaring with outrageous speed in the worst of wrong directions. He is so controlled and precise, always aware of everyone’s position on the court, somewhat the patriarch of the team.
On the court, early in the season, fighting for the point halfway through the final game, I duck out of the way last minute to avoid The Bruiser who I was fairly certain didn’t even see my body readied to hit the ball. It’s always my ears that hear his heavy step first, then I feel my personal body space shrinking at an incredible rate. I feel a shadow cast over my head and duck just in time to avoid an arm, possible head injury too, as his hand, raised like a bat, thick and sturdy, makes contact with the ball. He sends it soaring back over at the unsuspecting woman with furious force. As she attempts to bump it, her reaction is too late and not properly in place and it blows into her chest, bouncing off in a way that sounds entirely painful. But they have a guy who’s been studying as he plays, knowing the tricks, the weak points in our game, and he anticipates this enough to save the ball just before it hits the ground, popping it right up into the air. Geared up at the net for his big move is their go to net guy, who sees his moment to shine, falling right into place and certain of his strike. He hits the ball, sending it all of two feet to where our six footer genius has popped out of nowhere, sending it back, gently over the net. A quick arm in the right place and it’s flying with force back in our direction. Not having expected the ball to return, one of my female team mates isn’t readied for it, but looking out over everyone, the patriarch flies out of nowhere, hands out like a bear about to claw his next meal to death. Before she can let out a squeak, he makes contact with what would have been her ball. There’s such force and a loud pop at the same time the sphere is sent soaring back at the opposing team. They return it to our side. “Dang, is this point ever going to be had,” I wonder. Stepping up is the redhead on our team, always on and not afraid of the guys plowing into her like me and the other girl on the team. She’s certain, and casts it over the net, in a hole that no one there saw open. The sand explodes beneath the ball, sealing our point!
Dodging the three musketeers, hitting a few of our glorious own over or to one of the guys, we women survive, mostly unscathed. Our patriarch points out how his finger hurts after that loud pop we heard but we all keep on. And after we play seven more exciting points worth, we see victory! Receiving an adrenaline fueled slap on my butt, my husband proceeds to wrap his arms around me, lifting me off the ground. It was all good fun!
As we begin to wash our sandy feet in the lake that Buzz & Mac’s (the bar we play for) and their volleyball courts reside on, we excitedly hash through the play by play of the games that night. Discussing the play where we heard the pop, one of us asks how his finger is feeling, he starts to respond, lifting his hand up, but suddenly comes to a halt, and we all see his finger hanging limp. “Oh my god!” he says in disbelief! We all burst out in laughter and horror. Being the comedian he is, we thought he was joking, but it became apparent quite quickly how serious he was. He looked worried, which was a rarity. It obviously hurt, but not enough to be broken. He tries with all his might to lift it straight, but that’s not happening. His face, one of shock and disbelief, burns clear in my mind even today, causing laughter to erupt out of me. Turns out he had tendons tear in his finger that night, and to this day, still haven’t healed.
This summer, playing volleyball, getting my short weekly break from my little love and offering a lightness and ability to play with my man and some friends was exactly what I needed. It’s a funny irony how before we have our children, we enjoy life, those around us, are easy breezy, but when that baby arrives, the seriousness of everything increases. It changes you. It leaves you with a baby who wants to play, a husband who misses the wife that played with him, and a mama and wife who doesn’t remember how to play day in day out. It’s sad really. Being with my teammates, I’ve laughed a lot, gotten irritated (by the narcissists), gotten bruises for good measure, made great memories and after all was said and done, gone to bed wiped out, yet refreshed! It has reminded me that it’s okay for me to have fun and not worry about my beautiful baby all the time. She will be okay when in good care. And it’s shown me how much better I feel as a result of it! Grateful for this season of refreshing & learning and my teammates (subs included with their own personalities I love) who each with their own personalities different from the other, make up a great group of friends I wouldn’t exchange for the world!