The fields had obviously just been maintained as our team of ten t-ballers scattered across the red dirt. Their little footprints disturbed the perfectly-raked lines and smeared the straight white chalk marks.
It took no time before all four bases were covered in cleat-marked polka dots as the "Cardinals" practiced running, hitting, and fielding tonight under big fluorescent lights and a cover of fog.
It wasn't long before the dugout was not a suitable place for Miss M to play. She could not merely be a fan tonight. She was compelled to participate.
So, we took to the field with the team. We found a place along the third base line that was untouched by rowdy-boy-footprints and missed catches and wayward bats. We found pristine red clay and smooth white chalk lines, and we made our mark.
She rounded third. And hopped on and off of it, too. She pittered and pattered until every last inch of her spot of infield was covered in Size 5 toddler shoe prints. She chased me and I chased her.
She blew kisses at me when I cautioned her to come nearer to mommy, then turned on her heels and tried to run toward the chaos.
I scooped her up and together we ventured all the way to the high fence at the edge of the outfield.
There, we found shell-lined paths where the grass ended. She attemped to climb the fence. I turned my attention toward the boys. I noticed my son's size 12 feet high up in the air as he tumbled on top of a pile of teammates (while the coaches diligently tried to run drills).
The little one eventually rubbed her eyes and signed "Please". I fished her paci out of my pocket and hoisted her onto my hip. We trudged back through the shells, across the wet grass, past the hundreds of baby footprints, and into the dugout.
As practice drew to a close, the "Cardinals" swarmed around my girl and me... looking for misplaced helmets, bats, snacks and gloves.
I smiled, thinking about the hundreds of footprints being left, this time somewhat undetected, on the dugout's cement floor.
I recalled my life before these children: Pristine, perfectly raked-lines. Straight white chalk marks.
And I thanked God for all the times He makes His mark, "disturbing" my perfectly planned paths...using those little Size 5 and Size 12 footprints.