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My Weekend Warrior Recovery: Plan B

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I recently read a posting on the Hockey Mom in Canada Facebook fanpage asking her readership (all hockey moms) how they recuperate from a busy hockey tournament weekend. Perfect timing since my daughter and I just returned from a hockey tournament weekend. The responses varied somewhat but for the most part focused on selfless motherhood tasks: getting the laundry done, heading out for groceries, making sure they and their family members got caught up on personal hygiene and sleep and – the best one yet – immediately heading back out to an arena for a hockey game of one of their other children.

Holy sweet mothers of Jesus.

After 12 years as a hockey mom, I sure could stand to learn a few things from these candidates for sainthood who put their own exhaustion aside and continue to perform miracles.  I was about to add a few of my post-tournament weekend activities and they just did not seem to complement those that had been posted. In fact, my post-tournament “To-Do” list suggests that I’m on a fast track straight to Hell rather than the pearly gates Heaven.

Boston pizzaOkay, so maybe I don’t run right out and do the groceries. What’s wrong eating eating the leftovers from 4 consecutive Boston Pizza meals and leftover coffee? It’s tough to buy groceries when you know your entire next paycheque is going to the detox program at the Rideauwood Addiction Centre, not to mention paying for at least one speeding ticket on the 401.

Okay, so maybe the kids won’t have clean clothes for school on Monday, but I’ll get to it. First, I have got to talk to my lawyer about my chances for getting off on that Drunk and Disorderly charge from Saturday night’s team dinner. Not sure why the server took offense to my suggesting she was a big pain in my Jack Astor when she wouldn’t serve me my sixth glass of wine. Puhlease, like she’s never heard that before!

Yes, my daughter and I will catch up on some much needed sleep for this past weekend, but not until she helps craft my letter of apology letter to the housekeeping department of the Courtyard Marriott. It’s half her fault the room looked like that anyway, right? And we all know an apology letter from a minor scores more brownie points with head office (and The Jerry Springer Show).

wine bottle binAs for heading right out to another hockey game, well, that’s actually pretty believable, considering that on the way I can return all my empty wine bottles to the recycling centre before my husband counts them. Plus, it will give me just enough time to delete some photos from my camera. Bonus.

And this, People, is why I will never be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (but for some reason, Jerry Springer won’t leave me alone).

I am seriously out of wine, now.jerry springer

A hockey mom’s proudest moment…

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My neighbours came over for dinner the other night and remarked on my new dining room accessories:  two hockey jerseys hanging from the chandeliers.

Nice touch, Astra” says one.

Are we seriously eating dinner in here?” says another.

What gives?” they all ask in unison.

You see, though my daughter is still playing, my two boys have recently decided to hang up their goalie skates and gear ending their phenomenally successful 11-year minor hockey careers.

I struggled with how to honour this momentous occasion (beyond the impressive little happy dance I did in the privacy of our garage and long-anticipated clink! of wine glasses I shared with my husband).  It was both a proud moment and a little depressing too.  It was a day to both rejoice and grieve …laugh and cry.

So in keeping with a tradition well-known in many sport circles, I’ve decided to retire their jersey numbers.  They’re hockey careers are done (until their initiation to the beer-leagues) and it just wouldn’t feel right to see other kids sporting their famous jersey numbers.  It’s just the right thing to do.

I arranged a very special ceremony.  I respectfully invited members of their hockey association executive who were not able to attend but whose touching response (“You are hereby requested to return the two jerseys to our association or face a replacement fee of $80 + HST each”) brought tears to my eyes.  Members of the community also received gracious invitations to the event and though not in attendance, they were delighted to pass on their congratulations and acknowledgement of my sons’ many accomplishments. (“The outstanding credit on your skate-sharpening card will be voided at the end of the month unless used in full”).  A full contingent of friends and family members were also expected (“Sorry we can’t make it – unlike you, the rest of us are still busy with hockey!”).  I shed a tear or two as I proudly hoisted those two jerseys to the rafters (noting that said rafters have to be dusted since I now lack any excuse to avoid housecleaning).

It was the perfect denouement to complete their (short-lived) calling to minor hockey …  and my life as a humble hockey mom (that is, until my daughter retires).

Just like Mammy said in Gone with the Goalie Pads:   “I done paid for 3 sets of goalie equipment and it sho is a happy day!  It sho is a happy day!”

As you can well imagine, my husband thinks I’ve gone totally crazy.

He thinks they should be hung from the ceiling in our bedroom.

Ceasefire!!

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That’s right, I said ceasefire!  Now that the kids’ hockey seasons are over, I can briefly back off firing on all cylinders.  Do you know how I know that the kids’ hockey season is over?  Well, in the last week alone –

I didn’t have to navigate my groceries into a car filled with hockey bags and water bottles. 

I ate dinner … sitting down. 

I actually cooked dinner, consulting Martha Stewart instead of Mr. Mozzarella.

I made a dinner reservation for 2 people instead of 40 people. 

I took my bottle of wine out of the refrigerator instead of a cooler.

There is a clean hockey blanket sitting on top of my dryer.

I did not launder a single piece of UnderArmor.

I watched a movie that does not star Don Cherry. 

I answered the door and the local gas station attendant was asking if I could come out to play.

I did not name a single one of the dust bunnies that have multiplied under my kitchen table. 

Not once did I make a pit-stop to the skate sharpener.  

I shaved my legs.

With three kids in hockey, August to April is indescribably busy. My non-hockey friends have all but left me for dead and the truth is I’ve had to check my own pulse once in a while just to be sure.  Some days I felt certain both the car and I were on autopilot.  During the hockey season, dinner party invitations are almost always declined unless I am confident the hostess wouldn’t mind either my husband or me showing up just as the food is being cleared from the table.  Our attendance at family gatherings is prioritized according to the scale of declining inheritance. 

Spring sports haven’t quite geared up which means I am between gigs. I feel like I’ve surfaced for air and am actually accomplishing more than just treading water. I feel like I’m surfing.  My husband asked the other night, “You’re going out again?!” and I answered, “Yes, again!”

Yes, I’m going “out” again, I am making an appearance at my book club, I am out running in the spring air and training for my May half marathon. We are going out to dinner parties, TOGETHER, and participating fully in these rare social events from cocktails through to dessert.

I am also staying “in” again.  I am reading, I am writing and I am sleeping. And I am ridding my home of a few unwanted dust bunnies.

Is this what a normal life feels like?

I know it’s shortlived, however.  I know this armistice is really just a tenuous treaty between me and iCal, who swings from ally to enemy on an almost daily basis.  Soon Spring will hit the fan and I’ll be chasing down stray pieces of soccer and baseball equipment and back to logging on the miles driving to various clubs and lessons.  Not like we do between August and April, though.  No.  Hockey season is a formidable beast… and this beast is now in hibernation.

Fine. I’ll rise, but I won’t shine…

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Even though our local hockey association has an enrolment of over 500 minor hockey players, they do not run a girls-only hockey development program.  This, despite the fact that Hockey Canada confirms enrolment for young girls is on the rise while, enrolment for boys is stagnant.  So my daughter is registered with a neighbouring community that does offer girls hockey.  This much larger neighbouring community runs an excellent girls hockey association that operates over 40 teams (some recreational, some competitive) and so develops over 700 girls in the sport of hockey.

But my daughter’s hockey association does not accept friend requests.  Not “friend requests” a la Facebook lexicon, but rather the registrar of the association will not entertain requests for organizing friends on the same team.  It’s a strict policy so I’m not sure how my friend and neighbour who lives just down the street managed it, but her daughter and my daughter (also friends … very convenient) have been on the same team for two straight seasons now.  If my friend told me she had to sleep with the president of the association to make it happen, I’d believe her, and support her.  I’d take one for the team too if it meant our girls got on the same team roster again.  The truth is, I guess she knows the right people, and this is critical … because it means we can carpool.

We take turns with most practices but particularly with those early morning practices (sometimes our husbands even take them), and as an added benefit we let the girls have a sleepover so only one hockey mom’s sleep is disturbed by that early morning buzzer alarm.  You may think I’ve inhaled a little too many zamboni fumes, but once in a while, those early morning hockey practices are actually not so bad.

Sunrise over farm (not my farm), SMN via Flicker

As I rose at 0600 this past Sunday morning, I patted myself on the back for getting to bed early on a Saturday night (true, I have no life, so there weren’t too many alternatives), and able to accomplish this without hitting the snooze bar.  In doing so, I also managed to successfully avert the Sunday morning nookie my husband was counting on (though probably not at 0600).

I gently woke the girls, quietly reminded them of our hockey practice and that we had to be in the car in twenty minutes, shut the boys’ bedroom door for fear of another giggle fest, and moved along to the kitchen to fix their breakfast.  I filled my trusty travel mug with deliciously fresh coffee, while they quietly finished their toast and OJ and then gathered their gear and headed to the car.  No arguing, no whining, no complaining.  They were both surprisingly and uncharacteristically accommodating.  What do they call this again?  Maturity?  I like it!   The car was almost as quiet as was the breakfast, save for the radio trying to snap us all out of our respective reveries.  I drove north, then east, and watched the sun peak out over the farm fields.  It was gorgeous.  “This is not so bad “, I thought and started to consider a few other positive attributes of these early mornings:

  • I get to zip along an almost-deserted highway; one that is otherwise usually clogged and polluted with commuters. I imagine every other driver is either heading off to work or heading off to hockey, just like me with their coffee mugs close at hand.
  • My passengers are stone cold silent – a far cry from their giggly 11-year old pre-bedtime selves the night before.  No one complains about my music selections, either (rare. very rare).
  • I can take pleasure in noting that the days are getting longer:  the sun is already peaking out at 630am.
  • There is ample parking in the garage at the university athletic facility where the practice is being held.  It certainly won’t be like this later on today.
  • Few parents are overly social at this hour so I get an entire hours’ worth of uninterrupted reading and writing before I hear the beep! beep! of the Zamboni shooing the skaters off the ice and beckoning me back to my Den Mom duties in the dressing room.
  • While I do  provide transportation, I do not have to go out there on the ice.  I can sit here and read, write and drink my lovely, fresh coffee.  There are five Dads out there right now and 16 eleven and twelve year olds who are not.

Goalie Girl

Now, with an hour’s worth of exercise behind them, the girls were chippier and chattier and the spirit that I associate with a girls hockey team dressing room had resumed.  They nattered on about their big plans for the day and week ahead, their hair, their clothes … MY clothes even.  Everything was back to normal and I felt a headache coming on.

We returned home shortly after 9am on this hockey morning, just as my husband was finishing up his breakfast and teenage boys were still not conscious.  I know that soon my daughter will be among those longing to sleep in on weekends.  When my three were still babies, a neighbour of mine with teenagers grumbled that at least I still had my evenings.  She, with teenagers, went to bed hours before them, leaving them to turn off the lights, the TV and to lock the doors.  This was certainly true at the time.  When all were nestled in their beds, I usually had some part of the evening to myself.  I can now sense my time zones shifting as well, just as my neighbour predicted.  However, though I may not have evenings to myself any longer, the mornings will all soon be mine again.  If I can meet these mornings with the same heart that which this morning was greeted, then I won’t complain for any lack of “me” time.  It will be there … just during a different time slot.

If this past Sunday morning early practice is any indication, I am ready to multi-task:  to rise AND shine!

* Just to be clear lest my daughter is expelled from her association:  I’m entirely certain my friend did not have to sleep with the president of the association.

Do you rise and shine or prefer the midnight oil?

A Zamboni of my own …

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A Zamboni is a truck-like vehicle that melts and mends the ice in a hockey arena. It cleans and levels the rough edges of the ice, leaving a smooth surface.

I shall not soon forget The Great Hockey Weekend of 2012:  Three hockey tournaments, three kids, three round robin games each = nine games MINIMUM in a 48-hour period.  One weekend.  One mom.  To say that I was emotionally distressed about pulling this one off is an understatement.  Its enormity was foretold months ago when my husband announced he was going golfing in Florida, the first weekend in February. “During hockey season?!” I screeched. “Who goes golfing during hockey season?!”

Well, apparently I know one such person.

And so I self-diagnosed myself with a new anxiety disorder known only to hockey moms: confero singularis formido (or fear of the solo tournament weekend).   Look it up!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh God, please don’t let this be another pre-menopausal bitch ranting about how underappreciated she is …”, because it’s not;  I’m saving all that for my book!  Instead, I wish to pay tribute to those who help out in a pinch (or see a stark raving mad woman in serious need of an intervention because it’s truly a fine line).

The hockey family.

The hockey family is the one connected to me and this crazy sport who is outside my immediate family – those I can count on in a pinch. Seeing as this particular pinch was more of a circulation-inhibited, full-on head lock, I needed a hockey miracle of Paul Henderson proportions to get me through. And since my husband failed to come through with a mistress who was willing to help out with the hockey driving, I called in the Reserve.  My Reserve Unit consists of extended family and other hockey parents.

Over Christmas, my mother-in-law lamented that none of my kids had participated in a tournament near their home north of Toronto and she missed seeing them play. Ooooo, the Angel of Hockey Mercy hath rested her wing in the goal crease. “Well, have I got the weekend for you…” my plea began.  The reinforcements, aka my in-laws, were treated to rare grandkid-hockey-fest and able to catch at least one game of each grandchild. It is entirely possible that they would have preferred to do so over a slightly longer stretch of time (i.e. maybe not 5 games in 36 hours next time) but never mind that for now. It is also entirely possible that they would have preferred to eat something other than take-out pizza and copious amounts of coffee but never mind that either. I was grateful for their ‘service’ even if it meant me changing the sheets and towels.

The hockey family.

Hockey moms often refer to other hockey moms as part of their extended family.  Considering how much time you spend with them at arenas, on tournament weekends and various other social events associated with their kids’ sports schedules from August through April, they might as well be kin.  The parents on my kids’ teams come from all walks of life, many of whom have chosen paths on which I wouldn’t dare walk, who wouldn’t dream of walking in my path, and who’ll walk off in different directions after the games and practices and tournaments are over.  But all this past weekend, they walked beside me all the way.  For every single person who offered to help with pick ups and drops offs for my three kids, I am thankful.  And for every single person who asked me how I was holding up this past weekend, I am thankful!  This particular weekend, I am thankful to no less than eight people who drove, fed, or housed my three kids somewhere (or did all three).  Now, one could argue that such assistance is intentional because I am mother to three goalies and the team kinda needs a goalie, but that’s ok; they were still on my side.  God Bless ’em!

A bolt of lightening is about to strike me dead, but when only one of my three teams advanced, I felt some disappointment for them but mostly relief for me; a fact that will likely not endear me to other hockey moms. But we all know my hockey/yoga co-dependency so I was hppy for their eliminations because they permitted my Sunday morning yoga class.  The parting words of my yoga instructor on Sunday morning could not have been better scripted had she been speaking directly to me.  “I hope you will take this feeling of gratitude in having devoted time well spent on yourself and extend it to those around you. Put forth an attitude of gratitude” … and with no bolt of lightening either!  With post-yoga latte in one hand and a basket of dirty laundry in the other, I felt as relaxed as a mom with 90% of her ‘to-do’ list still to do, but feeling gratitude for those who’d help me get through. I looked at the dogs (because they were the only ones still interested in my company) and shared a happy thought, “Hey!  We made it!” which was immediately followed by a not-so-happy thought, “Oh my God, did anyone feed you guys this weekend?!” So sincere thanks to my hockey family for helping me out this weekend and for making my rough ice a little smoother – a Zamboni of my own indeed.

Did you ever look upon a task with so much dread, only to find joy in it through the grace of others?

A word cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency. The word hockey stands out in my word cloud (made courtesy of www.wordl.net ) and a lot of other words scattered around it… like mom, love, writing… (actually kind of surprised that the word chardonnay does not appear there – it’s gotta be there!). So this was the mother of all hockey weekends where hockey, mom, love, and a little writing, once again featured prominently… as they always do in my life.

A Mom’s Yoga-Hockey Co-Dependency

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Occasionally I have to miss my Sunday morning yoga class, and this is not a good thing.  Squeezing my yoga practice before, between, or after work and kids’ hockey, is a challenge but one that has proven to be an essential antidote to a busy hockey mom’s schedule.  It also happens to but one of this hockey mom’s current addictions –  superseded only by chardonnay, of course.  It is entirely possible that if I wasn’t a hockey mom, I might not need the balance that yoga provides.  That all my children are still alive proves that the benefits of its practice spill over into all aspects of my life.  I’ve been a hockey mom now for about as long as I have been practicing yoga (~twelve years, give or take a practice or pose) and am only now ready to own up to my hockey/yoga co-dependency! 

How do I know that I am co-dependent on both hockey and yoga?  Well, you be the judge:

My Yoga Life

My Hockey Life

   
My breath is slow and deliberate, and I am mindful of it. My breath is a gasp for air … and I am worried about it.
With each deep breath, I inhale 1.5 litres of oxygen. With each hockey weekend, I inhale 1.5 litres of chardonnay.
I open my practice with the chanting of “Om” in unison with the class. I open the hockey game with the chanting of “Let’s go!” in unison with the crowd.
I’m dressed in casual, comfortable organic wear. I’m dressed for a post-apocalyptic ice age.
I cast my gaze beyond my finger tips toward my destiny. I cast my gaze to my fingertips in which clumps of my hair can be found.
My face is soft. My face is frozen.
I initiate my practice with sun salutation. I initiate anything hockey with Semillon salutations.
I stretch my glutes. I freeze my glutes.
Hands at heart’s centre … Namaste. Hands at heart’s centre:  … “Clear it … Clear it …. DAMMIT CLEAR THE PUCK!!!”
Herbal tea is offered following class – free of charge. Caustic canteen coffee is available – acid reflux is free of charge.  
I open my ears to the soothing sounds of tranquil yoga music. I cover my daughter’s ears from the sounds of the teenage boys’ chirpin’ and swearin’.
During yoga, I occasionally close my eyes. During hockey, I frequently close my eyes.
I love my yoga! I love my hockey!

Namaste, team!

Author’s note:  I proudly and gratefully acknowledge my 11-year old daughter for her artistic renderings of these hockey yoginis – also the artist of my dust bunny icon.  She is presently negotiating her contract to illustrate my hockey mom-oir…

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