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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hockey Mom Chronicles: I didn't choose this hockey life, it chose me (kinda)

Yes, yes it is

It is Sunday evening and I have just sat down at home with my whole family for the first time this weekend. I know weekends are supposed to be family time, but in the middle of winter, in the middle of hockey season, family time can be hard to come by. 

As an example, over the last three days we have had: two hockey tournaments, 9 hockey games (with the potential of having had 13), close to a combined 1000 km of (local driving), zero meals together as a family. 

This is the reality of a hockey family life.  We have three girls, and they play competitive hockey. This is our 8th season of going through this sport as a family.  But let me clarify that neither my husband nor I played hockey growing up. I actually can't even skate. I'm also not a fan of the sport, even though our house is basically Leafs nation every Saturday night.

Yet here we are, dedicating a ton of resources for them to be able to play,  yet I still count down to April when it is almost over for the season (almost, meaning, actually never - gulp!) We get the guilt from grandparents about not seeing them even though they are all 10 minutes away, we have to decline invitations with our friends and can't make any plans to host anyone and rarely even get a date night in. But we made this decision, the decision to be a hockey family. 

I once had a fellow mom ask me "What is the point of the girls playing hockey? Are they planning on playing for team Canada or getting a university scholarship?" Oh. well. Um. No.....that isn't why our girls play hockey. I actually didn't know how to respond in that moment. I think about it though when I'm in the deep depths of hockey-dom and doing my umpteenth carpool drive and packing dinners on the go and freezing my toes off in yet another arena. Why? Why?????  (don't worry I ask myself this all of the time too. Why this glam hockey mom life, girl, whhyyyyyyyy???)

Pro tip: keep your hands soft and supple during the season because you will develop callouses from all of the skate tying!

They play because sport is healthy. We want our kids to move and play in order to be happy and healthy. I want my girls to be active and healthy and to play whatever sport they love at any level, or even just outside on the driveway.  Because girls who play sport have a healthier approach to their own body image. I'm sure there are stats on that somewhere, but I'm too lazy to check. It's my part of parenting philosophy, so we'll have to just go with that.  I want them to focus on what their bodies can do, not what they look like. I want to encourage them to live healthy, active lives. Sure, they can go outside and just play and be active everyday. But as they get older they tend to do that less and less.  Being part of an organized sport gives them the structure to be more physically active (and having a coach tell them to skate laps is a lot easier than my yelling at them to do some jumping jacks!)

They play because they learn teamwork and lots of other good stuff: Sport teaches kids about working together for a common goal. Hockey, like many sports, doesn't work if you aren't a team. The other good stuff they learn is about resilience, and failure and perseverance. Also, about the value of a good deodorant and regular, daily showers. (regardless of the gender, hockey players stink).

They play because it helps them be focused on what really matters: Just to clarify, what really matters is NOT winning. What matters is that they can control their efforts and their input into what they are doing out there on the rink.  What matters is that they are learning that losing is often a really big part of the game, and that it's ok.  They are learning that being the best player on the team isn't what matters, because more often than not, they are not the best player. They are learning to prioritize things in their life, such as family and school before hockey. They are learning about the value of working hard.

They play because they love it: It is pretty amazing as a parent to watch your kids find something they are passionate about. Something that they find motivation and inspiration about, and do because they want to (and not because I've forced them to do it!) They realize they need to get their sleep because they have a big game, and they realize that they need to make better choices for their snacks and meals because they are athletes. They do all this and more because they LOVE THIS GAME. And to be clear - I don't love this game, but I love them and I love to watch them play.

They play because they get to see their name out on the rink
They play because they are Canadian: You don't have to play the quintessential Canadian sport to be considered a Canadian (I'm a case in point). But for three brown girls who are born and raised Canadians, they are out there showing up every day in a sport that is usually male dominated and one that often lacks diversity. They play for themselves, they play for all little girls, they play because they can. 

They play because they want to: They don't play for us. They play for themselves, because they want to. I'm just the chauffeur, chef, equipment manager, cheerleader, snack holder, personal secretary...Truth be told, no matter what sport or activity they had picked, I'd feel the same way about it all. I'd love watching them play, but I'd also still be a grouchy mom who feels stretched to make it all work.

There are so many reasons why we are a hockey family, but bottom line is that they love to play, so they do. 

They play because we love them


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