Grass Stains and a Grateful Heart May 16, 2016 Seeing your son knock a pitch clear across a baseball diamond is what I imagine watching your favorite major league player hit one out of the park in a world series game feels like. When he makes it on a base, he looks up in the stands and gives us this big, proud smile–and I melt. When you’re a Gaines, this is what life looks like in the spring. Baseball may as well be a tradition as old as time for the Gaines family. Chip’s dad coached his little league team and he grew up with his dad throwing him grounders every single night. Chip played all the way to college, and now that our kids are old enough to play, this Gaines tradition lives on. So baseball is a way of life for our family, that much I know for sure. But I have one very simple question: why are the pants white? My boys are at an age where they slide into bases just because they finally know how. If you have kids in little league, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They could knock that ball clear outta the park and still slide into first, second, third and home plate. Just for the fun of it. What does that leave mom with? Grass stains and red dirt all over these white pants. And there’s a good chance that they have another game the next night. Which means those pants need a stain remover soak and a good washing, tonight. I’ll admit this to you—there have been years I’ve wondered if we could get away with skipping just one season. This sport is a commitment. 1-2 practices and 2 games a week—per kiddo. It’s a lot when you have two playing. Did I also mention it takes an army just to get all 6 of us out of the house with every little bat and glove? But then we get to the field. Pulling up to the baseball fields after a long day feels like a little vacation from real life. The boys live for these nights. Actually, even my girls love it. As soon as we park they’re out of the car and under the stands playing in the sand in less than two minutes. And Chip is right in his element, up in the stands with a big bag of sunflower seeds cheering on our boys and chit chatting with the other parents. The past few games the boys have even been laying out their own uniforms to help out mom and dad. It’s the sweetest thing walking in their room and seeing everything down to their socks already set out. What this all comes down to is pretty simple. Sure, nights in the springtime mean we really have to hustle. And a few extra bottles of stain remover will be needed. But when I give up the grumbling to practice gratitude, I’m able to fully appreciate the sweet memories my family is making together on that ball field. This little truth applies to so many areas of my life in this season. It really is a discipline to recognize and reflect on the blessings disguised as really hard work. So tonight I’ll wash those white pants with a grateful heart. And next year I’m ordering an extra pair.