I'm not exactly sporty or athletic or coordinated. In fact, I would say that I am the exact opposite of sporty and athletic and coordinated. I believe I suffer from a hand/eye coordination problem. I've been known to miss catching keys that have been thrown to me from two feet away. I've been known to lose my breath half way up a flight of stairs. I've been known to (often) trip over my very own feet.
And this is nothing new. I HATED sports in school. Like, even bolding and capitalizing that word does not show the extent of my school sports loathing. To answer the question: I don't know how I can miss kicking the ball that is right in front of me. I don't know. Okay? I just don't know. It boggles my mind too. I mean, I line the ball up with my foot and I look away for a split second and it's almost as if someone moves the ball...
But I also must confess that because I a) didn't enjoy sports and b) am a perfectionist, I never really put much effort into it either. I kind of have this *life motto* that if I'm not perfect at something right away, I should just give up and try something else instead. I am, for instance, very good at reading. And so I continue to do that. I also think my voice sounds great in the shower and the car, so I continue to belt it out while sitting in traffic.
All of this to say that I really just didn't *get* sports. I have on occasion fallen asleep while "watching" hockey. I think it's the sound of the announcers voices and the skates on the ice and the crowd cheering, it lulls me to sleep like a lullaby (or melatonin, come to think of it.)
I certainly can appreciate the hard work and determination that goes into any sporty goal and I can well imagine how rewarding it must feel to be part of a winning team or to accomplish a life long dream. It's just never been anything I've experienced before and so I can imagine as long as I want, I'll never know how an athlete feels (although, sometimes when I have to run to my car when it's pouring rain, so I sort of get it...)
When Q was six or so, he heard his dad and I talking about starting a joint savings account for him so he would have a little something for post secondary education.
He said: What if I don't go to University?
Me: Oh you'll be going. Whether it's trade school or college or university, you'll be going.
Q: It's just that...well...I'm pretty sure that I'll be playing in the NHL by then, so would it be okay if I went to University after that??
It was then we decided to put Q in skating lessons and over the next two years we watched him glide through four levels of skating with such determination. He went from falling and stumbling and tripping and well...falling...to the skating coach saying she had taught him all she could and it was time for power skating (which, btw, is exactly what it sounds like...lengths of the rink, doing squats, in skates). It was an inspiration to watch him set goals for himself and then work hard to meet them. It made my heart proud. I was a skate mom. Smiling in the stands while he skated backwards and forwards and sideways and pivot. pivot. pivot.
...I'm a Hockey Mom.
(respectful awe-filled pause)
(maybe some angels singing)
I go to practices at 6:00am. (OMGoodness...it's actually a thing)
I spend weekends at the rink.
I cheer in the stands until my throat gets sore. And forget about it when he scores. I lose my mind.
I yell helpful instructions like, "GET IT OUT" and "KEEP IT IN" and "SKATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and lately, "HUSTLE BOYS!!!"
I know all the names of all the kids and yell their names out sometimes too, just to keep it real and encourage them all equally. I know most of the rules (and make up the rest...they're fondly referred to as the *Mom Rules* - For example: If they've really hustled, it's not icing because I mean...they skated all the way to the other end...they're tired. And also, the losing team - us, usually - should get an extra player to even things up).
We've been on a losing streak and a short winning streak and then another losing streak. No matter how much I cheer. Sometimes they just don't listen to my direction. We have a great group of families this year and we are so invested in our kids. Not necessarily in winning, but in life experience. We cheer when they win. We cheer when they lose. We cheer when they try really, really hard. We love them whether they win or lose. We feed them whether they win or lose. We're good like that.
I've learned more this year about sports than I have my whole life. Yes, the rules of the game, but also something so much more important. I've learned what it means to be part of a team for these kids.
Becoming a team is so much more than just a few kids on the ice. It's being a part of something that's bigger than yourself. And that's a new concept for kids. It gives them a community.
It's determination. It's passion. It's skill. It's selflessness. It's encouragement. It teaches consequences and follow-through.
The kid I see on the ice is a different kid than the one I see going to school. He's confident, he's outspoken, he's assertive. He sees what he needs to do and he does it. He skates until his lungs burn. He works together with the other boys towards a common goal. Watching some of them play together is like watching poetry. Poetry! Can you believe it? Like a finely choreographed poetic dance.
Gah! I get goosebumps.
And there is nothing more rewarding to watch.
I get it now. I get the valuable lessons learned on the ice, or the court, or the field. I am so grateful to be able to experience it with Q.
I can say with pride that I am a Hockey Mom.
And who knows, after watching the determination my kid has - he might just make the NHL one day. And then I'll be a Professional Hockey Mom, which I think pays a bit more. Haha.
In the meantime, we're probably going to get our arses handed to us at the tournament next weekend, but dang, it'll sure be worth it.