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Baseball is a metaphor for everything

Baseball is a metaphor for everything

June 4, 2006

A few nights ago I was talking to my two oldest sons about the power of positive thinking and the self fulfilling power of negative thoughts. Of course this was all in relation to baseball, because aside from Legos their thoughts are consumed with little else.

One of them has been having a lot of trouble at bat during games. At the pitching machine… he hits everything beautifully. When the coach is pitching, or during practices, the same.

But put him up at bat during a game and it is like looking at a different kid. There is no explanation for it, other than the negative self speak. The coaches come up to us, privately, and say that he should be the best on the team. That is what all the evidence during practice would suggest. And yet, time after time, in a game situation he fails to come through.

So I began this conversation telling them both that I wanted them to think positive thoughts when they got up to bat. I gave them a little mantra to say when they got up at home plate. “I am a hitter. I can do it. I can hit a homerun. I can do it.” They looked at me like I had lost my mind.

“I’m not saying that,” my ten year old protested.

“You don’t have to go up to there and shout it, though maybe that would scare everyone else away from you. No, you say it in your head.”

From the way they protested you would think I had suggested they go up to bat naked.


A few days ago I got an “opportunity” to get paid for some writing. If we use the word “opportunity” to mean “lay down while we run you over with a steam roller to extract every last ounce of your soul from your body and then pay you a pittance”. I don’t want to get into details because it seems as though they could be a particularly litigious club group. But suffice it to say that the offer was insulting. And not just insulting to me, because I am sitting on some sort of high horse, just plain old insulting to writers everywhere ( imagine my sweeping arm gesture which encompasses all of you)

As I said to the person offering the job, if I accept this sort of job I am basically saying that what I do has no value. That my writing and the writing of other women and mothers (not to exclude men out there, but this offer was a mom thing) is worth nothing. And I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that.

I told the person offering the job that I hoped no one accepts this job under these terms. But I know someone will. I know someone will believe the lie that we have been collectively fed, that mothering, and the writing about mothering, has no value, that you should be happy for a little pat on your head. Now go sit in the corner, fiddle with your pearls, and look pretty.

Writing about being in the trenches of motherhood is revolutionary. Our mothers didn’t have this outlet. Being able to write honestly about all facets of our lives is freeing. Finding out that other women feel like an outcast from the “perfect mother” club is comforting.

I seethed over it for days, and a wise friend told me I needed to let it go, and I have. Or rather will after I write this. She also asked what I was going to do about it. Do? Isn’t my outrage enough.

And as I began to hem and haw she said, well you have a safety net I have kids to feed, that’s the difference. No, it’s more than a safety net I had said. I couldn’t think of what it really was. Safety net implies that you are doing something, but what will be caught if you fall. No, I have been treating my life as a crutch.

Have I worked on my book at all in the past few months? No.

Why not? Oh the reasons I could give are numerous and varied. With seven kids people don’t expect much of you. If my shoes match and my shirt is buttoned correctly, people are impressed. The world is my enabler. But, if I have time for this I have time to do writing that will pay me.

In the end though it comes down to the negative self talk. My own reluctance to step up to the plate and claim the title of writer, lest some one slap me down. My life long pattern of giving up, so that I don’t have to fail.

‘Tis easier to stand motionless at homeplate, ostensibly waiting for the perfect pitch, blaming the pitcher for lousy throws, blaming the umpire for bad calls, than it is to claim the game as your own, to swing with all you heart, all your strength, and strike out.

Old habits are hard to change, the negative self talk even harder.

So now it is my turn up at the plate. I understand fully the protests of my sons. I feel naked.

“I am a writer. I can do it.”

Posted by Chris @ 7:39 am  

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  1. Lazy cow says:

    And when you do write it, I’ll definitely buy it. Follow your dreams.

  2. Fold My Laundry Please says:

    I could definitely do with some more positive self talking myself! I have lots of things I would like to do with my life but always seem to find excuses to not do them.

  3. Karen Rani says:

    You ARE a writer. I applaud you for holding out for a better deal. I think you have some serious convictions and “write-ly” so. You deserve big bucks and good publicity for your writing and I know that once your book/column comes out, I will be one of the first in line to buy it. Go you!

    Always in awe,

  4. CaliforniaGrammy says:

    I’ll be the second one in line following Karen. You ARE a writer, and a damn good one too . . . just go for it! Stand on your tip-toes and reach for the stars.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would pre-order your book and even pay the hard cover price without flinching! I love your blog!

  6. Ashley says:

    Can I order an advance copy of your book? I agree with Lazy Cow: Follow your Dreams.

    Just look at Julie Powell. She doesn’t have 7 kids to write about. She decided to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year. She started a blog to track her progress. The blog spun itself off into one of the funniest books of the year. And she was a secretary!

    I’ve always thought you were the next Erma Bombeck. You are a writer and we know that you can do it!

  7. Mary says:

    The scary part of doing is that you have to be prepared to fail. It is a big risk, but in the end, worth it. And, as you can see, you have tons of people who are behind you and believe you are a great writer.

  8. Wicked Stepmom says:

    Hoorah for you!
    Love your writing.
    Love your blog.
    Would certainly buy your book if for no other reason than to say “hey! I ‘knew’ her when!”

  9. D says:

    You’ve inspired me! I hold your hand and sayeth to the world:

    I am a writer. I can do it.

    Right after I wiped some crap up. Be right back (in eighteen years). But you are so right. The time doing this is time you could be doing something which will pay.

    Don’t you find it harder to write than to blog? Or is that just me?

    Go on Chris. Hibernate the blog and knuckledown - you know you can do it. We know you can do it. You’ve had the pracice now go out there and bat for real.

  10. chel says:

    Chris, Our greatest life is when we are in our dreams awake. You are already doing it, maybe you just haven’t realized that yet:-) Good luck girl, You help me see there is a funny side to everything, it’s all in how you look at it. Reach for the stars, they are closer than you know.

  11. momofalltrades says:

    Go for it Chris! You have a huge readership, and we all believe you can do it! I’ve sat up into the wee hours of the morning reading your blog, shaking my head, laughing out loud just amazed at what a neat gal you are. You live across the country, but through your writing, I feel like we live next door. It takes a special talent to inspire that feeling of familiarity. You are gonna write an AWESOME book!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I will also preorder and pay the hardback cost, and shipping! LOL - wait a minute, you weren’t going to write a romance novel, were you???

    Yes, indeedy, you are a writer. Maybe if you start a blog on being a WRITER writing a book while in the trenches of motherhood, you’ll HAVE to write the book in order to have something to blog about. This is the convoluted way I convince myself to do things, and it works some of the time.

  13. Danielle says:

    You are a writer already. I love your blog and check everyday. You insipre me.

  14. Maliavale says:

    Good for you! Rah, rah, rah! That is excellent. You won’t regret just “doing” even if the minute-to-minute is difficult.

  15. Beth says:

    Saint Erma of Bombeck would say: “Of course you are a writer! Any writer would be thrilled to have such source material as you have been blessed with. Go forth, my child, and Write.”

    Erma got her start writing humor as a newspaper columnist. And this was back in the Fifties, when when mothers really WERE expected to sit and fiddle with their pearls. You would be brilliant, writing humorous op/ed pieces in any local newspaper. I expect you would have an immediate and loyal readership.

  16. nabbalicious says:

    Good for you for recognizing your own value. And whatever you write, I’ll totally buy it. You’re a terrific writer!

  17. mmc says:

    Fannnnnnttttaaaaaasssstiiccccc post!

    Write it, and many will fork over their duckets to read…

  18. Carmen says:

    Where you channeling me when you wrote this? I’ve gotten 26k words done, and JUST.STOPPED.

    I’ve got a million reasons not to, or excuses rather, but I just need to do it.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants, Chris.

  19. liz says:

    I’ve got my wallet out. Print it and it will sell.

  20. Tammy says:

    You are definately a writer! I read your blog religiously!! By all means please get on with the book and let me know when it goes to print so I can buy a copy. But please don’t stop blogging while you write. I would go through terrible withdrawals!!

  21. Antique Mommy says:

    Email me and let me know who proffered the job offer so when they are desperately scraping the bottom of the barrel and call me I can say no too. Unless that cheap tramp that lives in my head that is desperate for attention takes over, then who knows, I might take a job writing obituaries.

  22. zingarette says:

    You go girl. You know we all love and support you, and you’ve got women everywhere who will buy that book. We’re behind you every step of the way!

  23. Jennifer says:

    Good for you Chris. You can do it.

  24. Katie says:

    Awesome! You can do this!

  25. Junosmom says:

    I also was asked to write for pay, and was insulted by the pay, deadline, etc. Told them I couldn’t do it. Yet, I write on my blog daily for free. The difference for me is that my blog is training ground for my writing skills and hopefully, future book. It is also my creative release. It’s mine. Writing what someone else wants you to write is work, and should be rewarded accordingly.

  26. Jackie says:

    I also read your blog everyday! I really never post a comment, but I had to this time. I think you are so bright, and warm and personable! You write what I think, but just wouldn’t be able to put together in such a succintly funny way. You definately give a voice to us mothers (especially those of us with ALOT of kids), and show us that we are not the only “loonies” out there! I would love to read anything that you’d put together, whether it’s a collection or a novel. You really have a talent!

  27. Lilly says:

    I think your book is already done. If you take your favorite posts and put ‘em together into a book they’ll sell a million copies. Not everyone has found your blog on-line yet and they can find it in a best selling book! And you can publish it in volumes…. But I’ll bet that the publishers would want you to stop blogging and giving your treasure away for free and that would be a huge loss to all of us who visit every day…. umm so never mind about this idea….

  28. Carola says:

    Chris, you should definitely write that book!! it is going to be hard, but you have more will and heart than anyone I’ve known, and I know it only by reading your blog. I have been trying to write my thesis for 3 years, and still haven’t been able to finish. Now I have a 4-month old baby (yes, only ONE) and I’m struggling even more. As I’ve told you before, I read your blog every day because it gives me energy and it inspires me. I always tell myself “if she can get all these things done with 7 kids, then I should be able to finish my thesis!”…although I must admit that sometimes I feel jealous of you and your accomplishments…but in a good way. I wish you the best!

  29. Mir says:

    First, how lucky to have such wise friends. ;)
    Second, when you’re ready, you’ll do it. You are inching ever-closer to ready and I daresay this experience may have been the tipping point. So be sure to thank them in the acknowledgements when the book comes out. (I’m working on the GrudgeHolder shirts RIGHT NOW…)

  30. Caren says:

    Wow, what can I say that hasn’t been said already? First of all, I adore your writing. I am not creative at all (which is why I rarely post a comment), but if I had a fraction of what you have I would be grateful. I found your blog awhile back and became hooked. (Then, of course, I had to go back to the beginning and read every single blog you have posted, here and at dotmoms.) Second, I am so happy for you. I have realized with my son that a great deal of the time he teaches me something, instead of me teaching him. Sometimes we have to take our own advice. Third, I would also pre-order a copies of your book, for every woman in my family. I think your writing is so important to mothers. We’re behind you all the way!!!

  31. Kristen says:

    You are definitely a writer. And you can do it…you ARE doing it. Good for you for not accepting the unacceptable.

  32. Darren says:

    You might have noticed that I recently wrote about going into therapy on my blog, and now I’m kind of wondering I just don’t come to you. You’d give me a fellow blogger discount, right?

  33. Meg says:

    You are a writer and you can do it.

  34. halloweenlover says:

    Good for you, Chris. If it was a lousy offer, you shouldn’t have taken it. You deserve so much more!

    I agree with all the above posters. You are a writer, a damn good one. And I’ll preorder your book too!

  35. peepnroosmom says:

    You are a terrific writer. I read your blog religiously. I would definitely buy your book. You make me either laugh hysterically, cry or think about everyting you write. Not just anybody can express themselves that way. But like Tammy said, not stop your blog or I will go into withdrawals, too :-)

  36. Sleeping Mommy says:

    Yes you can, and thanks for standing up for the rest of the writers out there.

  37. The Daring One says:

    You are an amazing writer. You can most certainly do it and I will drop-kick those people for you.

  38. EvaRob says:

    I got your back, absolutely.

  39. Lisa says:

    Good luck at the plate, Chris the excellent writer! And I’m still waiting for the funny-faced pic of your son in his baseball team photo!

  40. Anonymous says:

    Do it when you are ready, Chris! You are an excellent writer! If I could write like you, I’d try to get my stuff published! Thanks for the laughs….I recently discovered you and I have laughed more at your insight and take on life than I have ever laughed, I mean laughing like I can’t stop, my husband has to see what is wrong with me…is she choking on her food, what? I think he’s used to me laughing in here now. Yeah, it’s the lady with the 7 kids, she’s great! It makes my day, that’s for sure!

  41. Maddy says:

    It amazes me how we adults only need one small reason to say *I can’t* but we tell our kids *they can* and we expect them to do so.


    PS: I sent my 10 year old off to training tonight chanting the mantra, he too has been troubled at the plate. THANKS!

  42. Cheerio's on my butt? says:

    Yeah, you are a wonderful writer! My husband said your blog is great and he enjoyed reading it! And if you knew how much he hates the word “blog” much less reading them then you would know how great you are!

  43. Jody says:

    Stand your ground. You are a writer and a damn good one at that!

  44. Julie says:

    Chris, just write the damn book. Or finish it. You ARE a writer, you know it deep down, and this blog freakin’ PROVES it.

  45. Kris says:

    I am so glad you told them that. So. Glad.

    And yes, you are a fantabulous writer, one who doesn’t need to make up words like “fantabulous” to make her point…