Kyla discusses self-care in the form of playing Women’s fastpitch softball
Well summer is in full swing. I hope all the P&H lovelies are enjoying it. For me, each summer is highlighted by playing on my women’s fastpitch team, the Redbacks. I played fastpitch for years growing up, ending my illustrious career during my Ph.D. as I found it hard to balance the commitment. We are in a competitive league and played at least two nights a week plus tournaments on the weekend. At that time in my late 20’s, I started to prefer drinking on patios as opposed to going to work out and found it difficult to commit myself to leaving the lab (I could always drink alone at a microscope). When my son was born and I entered the dull boredom of maternity leave, I was looking for an escape. I wanted to get my post-partum ass back in shape so I went back to my old love of fastpitch softball. My old team had disbanded since my departure in graduate school, but many of my old teammates were now playing on a new team. Luckily, they welcomed me and my post-partum big ass with open arms. That was 3 years ago, and I am so thankful that I decided to return to the game.
I’ve always played softball for a few reasons. It’s a great sport. You can eat sunflower seeds while you’re doing it (and drink beer). You get to release any pent up anger by hitting a ball as hard as you can. But more than anything, it’s the social nature of the game that is the best part. When I was younger, softball was an escape out of the suburban cliques of my highschool. As a young tomboy who didn’t really understand female friendships, softball was the place where I was surrounded by like-minded women. Many of my best friends have come from playing softball for the last 30 years. When you are on a team, there is no room for catty disputes. No one can judge you for what you look like (because you all look like a hot mess covered in dirt). Now, it is an escape from the drudgery of adult life (including parenting). Half of the game is spent chatting in the dugout, enjoying a post-game beer, or killing time between games during tournaments. We spend probably more time laughing than actually playing the game. You can see the appeal.
We had our Senior B Provincial Championships this weekend. Unfortunately, it was a lack luster end to a great season. We finished second in our league (which we are usually locking down one of the bottom spots). I personally am very proud of us. We weren’t sure how our season would go since our coach would be off the continent for most of the season. Also, three of our players were out with pregnancies (line drives to the stomach aren’t recommended for proper fetus development). But once again we overcame adversity. Time and time again this team keeps on fighting. Last year, our beloved Captain was diagnosed with breast cancer. It really hit close to home as she is only a month older than I am. Her great presence was missed as she had her own battle off the field. We struggled for players and had to shuffle around to positions we weren’t necessarily used to. But we survived. Our beloved Captain also survived. She battled through and came out on top, two breasts down but with an amazing new hair-do and a new wife to boot. This team inspires me both on an off the field. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of it.
As a team of 15 players, 8 of us are Moms, with 8 kids between us and two on the way. Despite having obviously a commitment to parenting, we also commit to this time for ourselves. The mom guilt still gets to me of course. Especially on days when I have to go straight from work to a game, scarfing down Triple O’s and a Redbull on the way. My son doesn’t get to see me those evenings, so the guilt-strings pull hard. But I’d also like to think that it sets an example that Mommy is a well-rounded person with interests other than you kid (sorry about it). It also makes me a happier more fulfilled person, which should hopefully and hypothetically make me a happier parent. Going back to ball after having Hunter, helped me during the identity crisis all Mom’s go through post-child. It helped me reconnect with the person I used to be before having a baby and before graduate school (which is like a baby). It gave me an outlet.
Our team is a small microcosm of the great things that can happen when bad-ass women band together. Something I hope to see more of in this world. Until next season!