Trekking across the large park field – still in my work clothes and heels – I could immediately spot my skinny, eight-year–old son taking his cuts during batting practice. He was surrounded by several teammates and two dads.
As I took my seat in the bleachers and settled in for the remaining 40 minutes of Little League practice, I took a quick scan of the two teams working side-by-side. There were about 18 boys divided into various stations focused on batting and fielding. My eyes then shifted to the number of dads helping out. To my surprise, there were seven.
These men obviously had sons on the teams, but as I watched the various groups, I noticed how these coaches were so wonderful with each of the boys. In a short 30-minute period, I witnessed two of these dads patiently provide my own son with great instruction, and cheer him on when he achieved success.
Practice started promptly at 5 p.m. and ran until 6:30 p.m. For many working parents, getting to a practice at this time can be a challenge. After all, there are appointments and meetings and paperwork and traffic.
But these men took the time to get to the fields and work with 18 little ball players.
Over the past few months – with the renewed debate on flexible work and telecommuting – the attention is often focused on working mothers. Moms, as the argument goes, need to get home for the pick-ups and the homework and the activity-shuttling.
But really, creating a flexible work environment is important for families – moms, dads and kids.
As I watched baseball practice, I was reminded how important it is for our kids to have positive male role models and influences.
My son lights up with the high-fives and responds to the coaching and camaraderie of these men. I’m thankful for their dedication, energy and volunteerism. In fact, one father is actually taking his own vacation time in order to get home early to run these week-day practice sessions and games. Talk about sacrifice.
My own husband, who usually coaches at least one of our kids every season, was a few short miles away at a different park, managing a group of overly-energetic, six-year-olds practicing for their own upcoming Little League game.
Without these dads stepping up and carving out the time, I know my son would miss out.
So as we talk about the work-life juggle, I hope we frame it for women and men, because embracing this mindset will without a doubt benefit moms, dads and kids. I know those 18 little boys appreciate the support, and the rewards they will reap from this time with positive male role models can shape a lifetime.
Have you found a way for you or your spouse to volunteer and be there for the afternoon activities?
Has your company been flexible and supported these choices?