I love hockey. I love the game. I love the sounds and the cheers and yes, even the smell. When I walk into an arena, I feel at home. I love watching his face light up when he hears that he has practice tonight and I love how he sits in the living room and meticulously puts on every single piece of equipment perfectly. I love how he looks up and meets my eye when he scores, and I have absolutely loved watching him go from a five-year old that can’t stand up for more than 20 seconds on ice to a kid top shelf-ing the goalie at the end of the rink.
I love it, I do. Hockey is in my blood. I grew up a hockey coach’s daughter and spent way more hours on a hockey bus driving all over northern Minnesota than I did doing anything even remotely girly. We did tournaments every weekend all winter long and I can say, without hesitation, that I really, truly loved it.
And then I became a Hockey Mom. I became part of the Hockey Mom Club.
Maybe it’s always been this way and I was just too little to notice it going on around me. Maybe there has always been Mom Gifts for tournaments and people stressing out about what colors we’re using on the posters. I didn’t even notice because I was too busy running up and down the bleachers slamming root beer like it was my job.
I’m not exactly throwing stones because I have a sparkly little number proudly displaying my six-year old’s name and number with a cute little Hockey Mom logo on the butt. I once sewed ninety scarves for the moms for a tournament. Last year, I took two days off of work to make posters for each and every kid that played in our home tournament. I said, “Yes,” when I was asked because I know it’s absolutely nothing compared to the time those coaches invest in my kid. It really is the least I can do.
I want to love it. I want to be part of the tribe. I want to shoulder up and cheer for every single kid that steps on that ice.
But, the truth is that sometimes it just doesn’t feel like that. Like so many other parts of parenting, the reality of it is much different than the idea of it that I had in my head.
I’ve come to realize that for some people, this is just another chapter of the whole competitive parenting thing that I’ve been rebelling against since the day my oldest was born. You don’t breastfeed? You must have absolutely no clue how good it is for the baby! You let your kid sleep in your bed? You don’t even understand the damage you are causing him! You work? OMG.
Breastfeeding, getting a child to sleep in their own bed and convincing the second grader the importance of doing his homework when all he wants to do is play catch for three hours a night is hard. It takes commitment. Hockey takes commitment too. I understand that it’s a big job to get him suited up five nights a week so that we get the pleasure of standing outside freezing to death. It’s a lot of work, sure, and there are nights when I most certainly feel like I deserve a big, gigantic medal. Like, the biggest medal ever made by humans.
Parenting itself is a big commitment. It isn’t exactly easy to raise a nice, empathetic kid that turns in his homework on time. In fact, there are many days when I’m certain that it is the most impossible task ever in the history of the world. But, at the end of the day, no secret mom clubs get together to make me a shirt that says “My Kid is Nice.” We don’t wear pins for that on our sleeves.
Maybe we should have pins for that. I think we should be talking about the importance of raising kids that respect their coaches and cheer on every other kid on the ice. I really think that’s the stuff that matters. In order to teach them, we need to be showing them how it’s done. We need to model it.
This mom thing, this life thing, it’s HARD and I think all of us could benefit from the simple act of being on the same side. Your kid has never scored before? I love him. I’m over here pulling for him. I’m proud of him for showing up. You have the kid who is really, really good? I’m wow-ing right along with everyone else. I can’t wait to see where he takes this hockey thing. My kid is the one in the middle. He scores some. He shows up for practice and will happily suit up to Rink Rat any night of the week even if it’s thirty degrees below zero outside. He may make that team in eight years and then again, he may not. I’m okay with that.
But, he will be nice. He will be kind. He will appreciate the time his coaches give up with their families in order to coach him. He will get some exercise and he will learn about working on a team. Those are non-negotiables.
Hockey season is starting. Moms, let’s get out there and show the little people how it’s done.