FEBRUARY 10TH, 2009
For 15 years you follow the children around from rink to rink. You purchase the Hockey Mom sweatshirt and personalized fleece with the organization logo. Your fall and winter calendar is filled with dates and times you’ll spend at the local ice arenas. Holidays are measured by whether you will participate in a tournament at Thanksgiving, or register for two at winter break, whether both of your children will play in the same city, and the hope that Christmas and New Year fall in the middle of the week so that you can go to a tournament without shortchanging family time.
Then one day you wake up and realize that all your hockey friends are signing up for tryouts, talking about equipment that didn’t exist the year before or declining your invitations because they have hockey commitments that you do not. That is the day it hits you. Your youngest skater is at a college. He’s 1,000 miles away and, whether he’s playing hockey or not, you are not likely to be there for evaluations. You’re not likely to go to the games that are being played in the Rocky Mountain States. At first you think, “This is great. I have all this free time.” But, more and more you realize that you are a hockey mom. You miss the exhilaration of watching THE game. You long for the rush of a schedule that leaves you too tired to make excuses for neglected housework. You begin to search for a team to follow. You try your local Junior hockey organization. The hockey is good and there are likely to be some faces you recognize. You start measuring up your grandchild to see when she will be old enough to don a pair of skates. You hope and dream that she will love the game and that you will get to be the one who takes her to all the practices and games and travel with her and her teammates.
Hockey mom was the role for so long that you know you just cannot let it go. No matter that you saw it moving away as the youngest skater in your house got his license and began taking himself to practices. No matter that you thought you were prepared for a life without hockey. When it is gone from your life, you will miss it and you will miss almost everything about it. Without a player of your own to watch, you may enjoy a unique, objective view of the game; it may be fun to attend an occasional NHL game, but nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the thrill and adrenaline you feel when your child’s team makes it to the finals. Nothing is more exciting than watching your child score on a penalty shot. There is nothing to compare to the time your child scored the winning goal in a big game or made a save that prevented the other team from scoring their game winner.
There were moments when being a hockey mom was hard. There were times when you witnessed unfairness, unsporstmanship or spitefulness. There were tryouts tainted by politics. I had more than my share of those hardships with our boys. But when I think about hockey, those difficult times are not the ones I recall. Rather I FONDLY remember waking at 4:30 a.m. to take a player to a 5:30 a.m. practice 20 miles away. I smile when I think about the team that tied one of its competitors time after time and in the final match up of the season the coach told the boys that for that game they were not to wear shirts and ties because this time there would be NO TIES! (we lost by the way). I think of car trouble on the way to Ohio and laugh about all the obstacles faced on that roadtrip. I remember how much pride there was in seeing the boys eagerly volunteer to help at locally sponsored hockey events. And, I recall the outcome of almost none of the games or seasons because that was not the most important thing to me. For me, hockey was something special to do with my children. And that is why I will continue to dream of the day our granddaughter wants to try to skate. Then I can begin to relive the joys of youth hockey. Ah, those were the days. But, alas, the years flew by much too quickly.
This year as you reflect on the trials and tribulations of your hockey life, I hope you find moments of joy in the time you spend with your hockey families.