And now I do.
Let me tell you why.
I spend a lot of my time reflecting upon how much people suck. I'm really not a misanthrope, but sometimes it's hard to see anything else.
But every now and then, you run across people that touch you; truly, deeply, profoundly. And those people reignite the little spark of hope that lives inside each of us. The things that they do aren't necessrily big and flashy. Even a small kindness can illuminate the hugeness of a human heart.
These are people, however, who are capable of amazing geneorosity and selflessness. They are the ones who should be figuring so prominently in the media that we devour on a daily basis.
Not politicians. Not celebrities. Not fame whores and poptarts.
Because they are the ones who illuminate the goodness of which we are all capable. They are the ones who battle the monsters that walk among us. They are the ones who make human beings worthy of the value we place on ourselves; arrogant creatures that we are.
We don't always know who they are because they don't go about proclaiming their benevolence. They simply live it.
Such was the case with a woman I met recently.
At baseball practice last week, all the parents huddled together, sharing a small patch of shade and getting to know one another, as they always do at the beginning of the season.
As a seasoned baseball Mom, I tend to get a lot of questions from the newer parents. I've been doing this for 9 years. I know the ropes, the rules, the regulations and the rumors.
One Mom approached me, and asked me about athletic supporters. At nine years old, it was her son's first time playing baseball.
When Husband asked the child if he had a cup, he quipped, "No, but I have a water bottle. Are you thirsty Coach Antagonist? I can find a cup."
Truly a neophyte, this kid. Husband chuckled over that for a week.
I told her what I knew, and eventually we began conversing about other things. I liked her right away. She and I are about as opposite as two women can get, but she has a directness that I like. She's a no nonsense sort. No affectation. No pretension.
I suspected that she might be a lesbian and that was confirmed when she mentioned her partner. It doesn't matter to me in the slightest, but you don't see many openly gay couples here in the ultra conservative South.
I hoped she wasn't in for a rough time of it. Southern suburbia isn't exactly an enclave of diversity and acceptance. One of the Moms had already made a disparaging comment about gays, not realizing, I'm sure, that there was one standing right in front of her.
During the course of our conversation, it was revealed that the boy is not her biological son. She and her partner had recently gone through the process of being approved by the court for adoption. They had scarcely completed their evaluation, when they received a call from the social worker who had been guiding them through the lengthy and laborious process.
There was an emergency.
They had three children who needed a place immediately, as the court felt their domestic situation was unacceptable. Would they be willing to take these children until a foster home could be found? There was the boy, a five year old girl, and a 15 month old infant.
Now, most of us get to transition into parenthood; adjust to the phases as they come. We have time to fall in love with our children in the womb and as blank, sweet smelling bundles of potential before they plunge us into the challenge of parenting autonomous beings.
Even then, it can test our mettle in ways we never imagined. It can break us. Who among us has not found ourselves questioning our fitness as parents? Who among us has not, at some point, curled up into a tiny ball and cried, certain we were failing our children?
Recognizing, this, the woman and her partner had expressed in their application that they would rather adopt an older child, as they did not feel equipped to deal with a toddler or an infant.
So they were hesitant. But the social worker assured them that the situation was temporary, and the need dire. These children were in grave danger.
They put aside their plan.
They took the children into their home, and unknowingly, into their hearts.
They realized that their well constructed idea of how things should be, was insignificant in the face of what was. These children needed them.
Instead of one child, they got three. Instead of just one older semi-independant child, they also got a fractious five year old and a wholly reliant toddler. But they dug in and did their best.
Several weeks later, parental rights were terminated, and the children became wards of the court. They could now be placed in a semi-permanent foster home.
But the women found that they could not let the children go. These little beings that they had regarded with such trepidation had become their family. They told the social worker that they wanted to begin the adoption process.
I listened to all of this, noting the joy that suffused her face as she told me that in a few weeks, the children would be theirs.
"I had our name put on his jersey." she said shyly.
She humbled me. I mean really, really humbled me. She made me ashamed of my complaints, my sniveling about losing myself, and the challenges of raising my spirited, head strong boys. She made me ashamed that I had forgotten what a privilege it is to be a mother.
It was clear that she is determined to give these kids all the trappings of childhood. Baseball is part of that. And never, ever have I seen a child so unabashedly overjoyed over a simple game. For him, of course, it more than a game. It is a chance to let go of the responsibility he has shouldered for so long and just be a kid.
Free. Unencumbered. Innocent. Normal.
The first game came, and I watched her as she watched him. As he stepped up to the plate, she clasped her hands tightly beneath her chin and waited for the pitch. He swung, which in itself is a testament to his bravery and resolute nature.
A whote lot of kids who are new to kid pitch league can't make themselves stay in the batter's box while the ball comes hurling at them with questionable trajectory.
But he did. He stayed and he swung and he hit the ball. It was a glancing blow and the ball dribbled slowly toward third base. But he ran like the wind, just as he had been told. He made it safely to first base, where Husband was waiting to give him a high five. When he turned to look for his new Mom in the stands, the grin on his face shone wide and bright behind his metal face mask.
And she? Was beside herself. She clapped and whoopped and hollered as if he had hit a grand slam. She ducked her head and wiped away a tear, but others shone in her eyes as she beamed at him. And when he crossed home plate, she couldn't keep them from spilling down her cheeks.
Later, during a break in the action, he and Husband conversed. The kid was frenetic and as wiggly as a puppy in his excitement. He danced on his toes as they talked.
"Coach Antagonist...didja see that? I hit the ball. I really hit it!"
"You sure did man. That was awesome. AND...you scored a run."
"Yeah. My first home run EVER. Do you know why?"
He jumped up, twisted around, landed flat on his feet with his legs spread and pointed with both hands to the back of his jersey.
"Cause you're lucky number 13!" said Husband.
"Yeah. AND, because of my new name."
I turned to his Mom.
"Man, that kid is walking about six feet off the ground."
For a moment, she didn't answer. Overcome, I think, with gladness. Then she said,
"Well, he's not the only one."
Goddamn that made me feel happy inside. Really, really happy.
There are good people in the world. And sometimes, we get the privilege of knowing them and seeing how they change it.
Now that...is inspiring.