Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Season Brings New Reasons to Smile

                              Let the Hockey Season Begin

     Cha-ching! The new hockey season has only just begun with our first practice and already my wallet has been emptied. New skates for my ten year old, shoulder pads for my high school hockey player, plus gloves, and knee pads for both of them. The family budget took a huge hit this week. Can't believe my daughter's skates were two sizes too small! Yes, I am feeling pains of guilt having told her at the end of last season, "Oh come on, they can't hurt that much?!."  Lesson learned.

   Ah yes, I can't wait to sit in the stands of our ice cold rinks, blanket wrapped around the legs and hand warmers activated in every available pocket.  Practices and games will mean many trips to the rink and out of town. There will be endless dinner challenges, weekly spelling quizzes in the car on the way home from practice,and playing tag-your-it with the husband. Fundraising strategies will be discussed and launched. Tournaments will be scheduled. Sign up sheets for the penalty box, scorekeeper, and snacks for the team. Doesn't sound like much fun? The world of a hockey parent may be a little crazy and very hectic, but it is a wonderful world, and I wouldn't trade one crazy second of it. Especially when you witness those unforgettable moments. Those times when your children demonstrate not only great skill, but good character. Cha-ching.  Priceless.

Hockey Mom Defined

When she learned my 8 year old wanted to play hockey, Nancy Duffy shared this article with me. She had written it many years ago, when her boys played. It's been in my top desk drawer ever since. At the start of each season, I pull it out and share her words of wisdom with as many hockey parents as I can. I miss Nancy so much.

    The hockey mom is truly a model of unacclaimed virtue, a paragon of womanhood tested beyond all limits. She is someone who shivers at 4,015 rink sides from Elmira to Ottawa, from Niagara to New Jersey, and who drives through four-hour blizzards for a one-hour game. She buys $200 ice skates instead of furniture, lives six months in long underwear with skate guards in her pockets. She sifts through the moldy mysteries of a hockey bag, dripping over hockey pucks in drape folds or tries to maneuver past hundreds of splintered hockey sticks, too good to be thrown out, in the upstairs closet. She lugs the hockey bags on her shoulders when her child is a tyke, bakes cookies for the locker room when he's a squirt and billets young Canadian teenagers when he's a bantam.

     There are no holidays or time-outs for a hockey mom. The day after Christmas is always spent on the road to a tournament. It's almost Easter before the season ends. That means six months of car breakdowns in Massena and whiteouts in Pulaski and Oswego. Hockey moms don't flinch when they hear that five more games have been added to the schedule, though. They just postpone their cleaning and cooking for one more month. The hockey mom endures and pays the price as long as the ice is available. Somehow the 12-and 13-year-olds who cuddle their hockey sticks in the night make it all worthwhile.

By Nancy Duffy

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