On November 2, 2016, my mother had the best night of her life.
I’d driven home to Chicago from Grand Rapids, a 3-hour ride that I’d taken many times on breaks from college. When I showed up she almost began to cry from excitement, because the Cubs was the one thing we still agreed on, and that night they would win the World Series.
October 14, 1908 was the second time the Cubs won the World Series, and the most recent time before their 2016 win. This was 11 years before my grandfather, my mother’s father, was born. He’d live a full life loving the Cubs but never seeing them win a World Series. All four of his daughters still love the Cubs, but my mother is a die-hard. She lives for baseball season, and takes a battery-operated radio with her wherever she goes during the summer so she can hear everything that happens during a game. I grew up in this Cubs-obsessed flurry, and for the most part, I loved it.
What is it about sports, specifically baseball, that unites members of a family? Newborn babies are dressed in tiny baseball outfits; fathers bring their young sons to games as one of their first “bonding” experiences; playing catch with a baseball is a universal game that brings together parents and children. America’s pastime is more than just an experience, it’s a connection.
Last night the Cubs had their home opener. The members of the team raised a flag for their 2016 victory against the Indians, fireworks went off, and fans cheered. I didn’t feel as excited as I usually do–not because I care less, but because there’s something connected to the Cubs overcoming their “underdog” status that was missing. As happy as I am, as a Cub fan, that my team is the reigning champion, their victory means I lost something.
Nothing can top November 2, 2016. When I go home to visit my mom, we’ll talk about our team, about how proud we are. But when they win again and again, we won’t text each other. We won’t comment, “This is the year!!” on each other’s Facebook statuses. Not because the Cubs aren’t important anymore, but because we’ve peaked.
One thing I’ve learned for when I’m a parent: Finding things to bond my children and I will carry into their adulthood, and that’s a beautiful thing. But baseball is baseball, and when the fireworks are over, I need to make sure I understand and appreciate my children, regardless of our shared interests.