I am a hockey mom

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This post appeared in my weekly Hockey Mom Monday post for Hockey Now.

 

My 15-year-old daughter is helping to coach four-year-old hockey players this year in her association’s Timbits hockey.

And by “coach” I mean she’s bending down and picking them up off the ice about 20 times an hour or giving them a gentle shove to generate some momentum.

And their young hockey moms? They’re sitting there in the stands with their gleaming new travel mugs, fully charged cameras and still-white winter jackets.

They as adorable as their Timbits!

As a veteran hockey mom, I’ve said and done some pretty stupid things over the course of my minor hockey mom career. So for the benefit of those adorable young hockey moms, here are some truly stupid rookie moves most new hockey mom will make at least a few of:

1.  Let your kids play hockey indoors

“It’s just a tennis ball. What harm could it possibly do?”

You have no idea. Say goodbye to all your light fixtures, framed prints and your washer and dryer.

2.   Give your kid 50 cents for the hockey card machine.

“It’ll keep him occupied on the car ride home.”

And every single car ride home for the next eight years. Game over.

3.  Get to the arena without the hockey gear

“He’s old enough to remember to put his gear in the back of the van!”

Sure he is. He’s five years old after all and practically a genius.

4.   Offer to handle the team Bingo fundraiser

“It will be fun!”

Sure it will. There are bingo ladies at the bingo fundraiser. That is all you need to know.

5.   Stay up really late at a party the night before a 6AM hockey practice.

“I’ll just stay for one more”

Which turns into three more. You’re up the (frozen) creek now … and again when that 5 a.m. alarm clock goes off.

6.   Eat an arena canteen hot dog

“They look so tasty and I’m so hungry.”

You do realize it’s been there for three hours, rotating in its own fat. Trust me. Save your #YOLO for the potato chips.

7.    Host the team ice-breaker party

“It will be fun. Really, how bad can that be?”

Bad. Imagine sixteen 10-year-old boys and their siblings and their drinking parents. Think about it.

8.   Forget to remind your kid to go to the bathroom before all the hockey equipment is on

“That’s ok, Sweetie, this will just take a minute.” No, it won’t. “You’ll be back on the ice in no time.”

No, she won’t. You might as well just undress her and go home. Game over.

9.  Forget to double-check the hockey schedule

“It automatically downloads to my iCal.”

Uh-huh. Until you realize there’s no one from your team at the arena and just maybe the schedule changed. And you’re totally screwed because your kid is the goalie.

10.  Say stuff like:

“It’s fine. I’m sure there’s a gas station on the way”.

It’s not fine. Sign up for a CAA card. Now.

Really, they’re honest mistakes. You’ll be forgiven – I know I was. Don’t worry, Momma’s here to help!

Three cheers for all the rookie hockey moms!

 

Last weekend, my daughter and I attended the annual Cornwall Girls Hockey Association Fall Tournament – as we have done the first weekend of every November for the past nine years. It’s become another hallowed hockey tradition in our family and I’m not allowed to mess with it.

Only ‘mess with it’ I did.

This was our first tournament after my book, “Offside by a Mile – Confessions of a Hockey Mom” was published. Now that I am a famous author and all, I get to go on a luxurious book tour and jet set to exquisite book signings all over the world, and be interviewed by incredibly famous people. Except in my case, I jet set to cold hockey arenas all over eastern Ontario and get asked riveting author questions like, “Do you know where the washroom is?” That’s fame, people.

So Saturday morning, I left my daughter1 sleeping soundly at the hotel the morning after her first round robin game, and headed back to the arena to set up my book signing table amid all the hockey bags, coffee-sipping parents, and the typical hockey tournament vendors (hockey hoodies, sports equipment, sports photography, etc.) selling their wares. Since I wasn’t selling – or wearing – hockey hoodies emblazoned with “I’m a Cougar Mom” or “I’m a Wildcat!” it took a little while for people to wander over, and ask me about the book.

As it turns out, it wasn’t just my potential book buyers that were asking questions. I was asking a lot of questions. I met people from all walks of hockey life. I met people who had just as busy a hockey life as I have (ok, some even busier) and many more offering a completely different hockey perspective on which I had zero experience.

Have you heard about the one where a dad takes his son to hockey for the first time, then somehow becomes the volunteer hockey coach? Sure, you have. We all have that ‘dad’ either living in our house or right next door. Well, I met such a hockey dad who went on the coach at a pretty senior level and then ultimately became a hockey scout for the CHL. He opened my eyes to a fascinating side of hockey that I will never know anything about, but for the stories he told me last Saturday.

What about the one whose kids were going to the NHL? Have you heard that one? We all have. And then reality sets in and we realize our kids have a much more likely chance of dying while taking a selfie than playing in the NHL, so we refocus our efforts! I met a very interesting man who talked about his kids’ experiences with athletic scholarships to US schools. Good, bad and ugly … mostly ugly.

Have you ever bought an action photo of your child at a sports tournament? I made eye contact and small talk with the photographer traipsing back and forth between ice pads taking photos and he finally came over and talked to me for a bit. Seems his business got started when he was taking photos of his grandkids playing hockey. He quickly realized he was shooting more than just memories – he had a great business opportunity in his hands. He shared his woes of weekends spent in cold arenas at just a time when he should be finally warm. He too shared a perspective of hockey that I never knew about (and that all photographers focus on the younger age groups when parents are still innocent and beholden!)

I met a fascinating dairy farmer who, when he wasn’t in the barn or on the tractor, was in a hockey arena (or some other sport venue) with his four kids. He was sad that none of his kids was going to the NHL, but sadder still that none of his kids were going to be a farmer. I’ll say this about farmers: the most sincere handshake I’ve ever received.

Then, I ran into one of my daughter’s teachers at the tournament with her two young daughters. I was able to bring the usual parent-teacher awkwardness to a new level when I warned her to please not take the chapter about me being a prostitute and Hookin’ for Hockey too seriously.

And finally, as I expressed my gratitude for my little corner of the arena foyer to the tournament organizer, I discovered he doesn’t even have kids in hockey anymore. All day long, I had been telling people that I got to finally finish my book when my two boys retired from hockey and that, with only one child left in hockey, I can see the light at the end of my hockey tunnel. Yet, here was this hockey dad who continued his relationship with his kids’ hockey association, long after his kids did. I told him to go buy a condo in Florida already! For some, like him, there’s more to hockey than skates and sticks.

I told each and every one of them, “Hey! You too should write a book!” and they all laughed. I guess we each recap our hockey memories a different way.

My daughter has no more hockey tournaments planned until after Christmas. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t plan another hockey tournament for myself … and my book. Because …

It’s the people that you meet.

Cornwall book signing

~~

1 And just so you don’t go calling Children’s Aid on me and all that, she’s fifteen years old and her teammate mom’s and my friend were on it, ok?!

1310 News

 

Great news!  I’ll be on the Ed Hand Show on 1310 News Radio on Monday November 16, 2015 between 12:30-1:00PM

We will be chatting about hockey mom stuff and my book, “Offside by a Mile – Confessions of a Hockey Mom”

Listen live here!

(Photo credit to Godello.ca)

(Photo credit to Godello.ca)

For some reason, hockey moms have a teensy weensy reputation for drinking. I sure I didn’t start it but may have contributed to that rumour over the course of my hockey mom years. Perhaps it comes from that little shot of brandy in the coffee to get you through a 6AM practice or maybe the Canadian beer smuggled across the border for the Rochester tournament or very likely having to squeeze a dozen or so women into a hotel room to socialize. Whatever the reason, there’s usually a good story.

I realize it’s just the beginning of the hockey season and nothing could have possibly gone wrong yet, right? But once in a while, a hockey mom’s day goes so terribly offside that some liquid relief is necessary. The inspiration for this post came from a viral posting on some pretty hysterical wine pairings written by Jeff W. As a veteran hockey mom, I’m here to help with your hockey mom wine pairings.

The setting:  You’ve been driving through blinding snow all the live-long day and finally get to the hotel. You do not want to be asked, “Do you have a reservation?” Obviously you have a reservation. You’re also obviously the last one here since the only parking spot left is in another time zone. There were no trolleys in the lobby, they’re all the second floor being used as bumper cars by the three Atom teams staying there. As you approach the front desk whisking sopping wet hair away from your eyes, breathlessly muttering, “Ughhh what a drive! I cannot wait to get out of these clothes,” to the front desk clerk, who peers over a computer with apathy since you’ve obviously interrupted a really good part of episode two of season seven of Grey’s Anatomy. “I don’t seem have a reservation for you. Are you sure you’re at the right hotel?” Oh, dear God.

The Drink: Crown Royal Special Reserve

Pairs nicely with desperation and lost hotel reservations

The setting: Somehow you’ve driven all the way to the hockey arena without your child’s hockey stick. It’s their job to put it in the car right? So if their signature top-shelf wrist shot doesn’t make its mark because they had to borrow their teammate’s back up stick which is either three sizes too small or too large, that is not your problem.

The Drink:  Three Sticks 2012 Chardonnay

Pairs nicely with incessant nagging

The setting: You’re sitting through your third minor hockey game of the day. Now you’ve been tossed out of a game by the referee. You’re not THAT hockey parent, you’ve never been THAT hockey parent – something just snapped. Call it exhaustion. Call it frustration. But call a spade a spade – it was still inexcusable. Now you’re totally embarrassed and you just want to slink into the back seat of your car and cool your jets … and steal the fifth of vodka from your oldest son’s backpack. You’ll like this one – just don’t drink the whole bottle and then go back into the arena to apologize.

The drink:          Polar Ice Vodka (best consumed right out of the bottle)

Pairs nicely with remorse and embarrassment

The setting: Your child has just advanced to the next round of playoff hockey. This is entirely unexpected given their regular season play but – still – you’re really excited for them. Until you discover that the playoff games conflict with the girls’ weekend you’ve been planning for months (assuming the hockey season would be over). After 80 emails you’ve come to the realization that there’s no changing the date. You’re just going to have to suck it up and tell your husband he’s on his own.

The drink: Dog House White VQA (husbands are equally if not more familiar with this varietal)

Pairs nicely with – um – being in the dog house.

So as you can see, I am clearly an expert hockey oenologist. Let me help you! Whatever your hockey mom situation, I am certain I can find the drink for you! Leave your hockey mom traumas in the comments and I will prescribe the right remedy for you. Oh, and cheers, by the way!!

 

Please drink responsibility and know your options for getting home from hockey safely!

 

 

Book Launch Party pic

 

 

Reminder:  Taking place TONIGHT

The Mill Tavern

5544 Main Street, Manotick

7pm

Books will be on sale for $15 each

This post previous appeared on HockeyNow.ca; you can see the original here.

~~~

It’s here already! I can’t believe it! Reunion is this weekend! What should I wear? Should I even bother going? Does my hair look alright? Have I gained any weight since the last reunion? More importantly, have any of my friends gained weight since the last reunion? I wonder if Amanda will be there with a new husband again. What if no one recognizes me? What if no one talks to me? What if I don’t remember anyone’s names?

All this nagging self-doubt is swirling around my head right now as I contemplate my reunion this coming weekend. Is everyone so insecure about reunions this weekend or is it just me?

By “reunion” I mean Arena Reunion – the big party that is house league sort-outs and takes place this weekend

This season, my daughter is playing first year Midget hockey. She and her hockey equipment will convene with about eighty-five other fifteen- to eighteen-year old girls at the Nepean Sportsplex here in Ottawa. Once the inevitable piercing screams and recap of summer adventures of their own Arena Reunions simmer down, eighty-five pinny-sporting girls will forget their summer tan lines and hit the ice. They will all participate in a series of scrimmages intended to evaluate their skill level and ensure that all the house league teams are properly balanced.

My daughter is pretty excited. Our house has been a tornado of activity the last two weeks in getting her two older brothers now retired from minor hockey andoff to university. She was entirely neglected during most of that maelstrom – a position she did not appreciate. Between numerous trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Canadian Tire for all the necessities of dorm life, and all the joys that come with student accounts, course choosing and text book shopping, she received uncharacteristically few reminders for her to double check her hockey gear to make sure it all fit. Thankfully, all that she requires is a new hockey stick (which no one thought to pick up on our several trips to Canadian Tire of course) and a pair of socks. She will also now have the undivided attention of both her parents (until Thanksgiving at least) – just the way she wants it!

And I will be amongst friends again. I will reunite with my fellow hockey moms, most of whom I have not seen since my daughter’s season wrapped up last April. I won’t know all eighty-five of these girls or their families but I will know a good number of them and I am looking forward to seeing them at the Arena Reunion. Very soon, I will be getting to know sixteen of them even better – our team for the year. They will be my second family for the next eight months. And I hope I remember their names!

So do you think it’s possible for me to lose ten pounds by Sunday afternoon?

Three cheers for the start of a new season! May your team be balanced and your coffee mug be filled!

hockey tryouts

As sensible people are enjoying the remaining summer days in the sun, I am watching the slow painful death of my flower pots knowing that with each floating, falling petal, I am one step closer to the new minor hockey season.

I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I got excited about the upcoming hockey. There were those Initiation and Novice years (when my kids had less than 4 seasons of minor hockey under their jockstraps), and I was prepared with shiny new pint-sized hockey equipment, a fully charged camera and a gleaming new travel mug. I also remember the Atom and Peewee years, looking forward to reconvening with a solid social network and recalibrating the car pool schedule. Come the Bantam years, I started the season thinking, “two more years and they can drive themselves to the arena”, and once a Midget parent, I handed over the car keys. I have been each of these hockey moms.

I’m about to start my fifteenth season as a hockey mom, with my third and remaining player, who starts her first year of Midget play. Like corporate service awards, I think there should be rewards bestowed upon hockey moms as they reach significant milestones in their hockey mom careers!  Since ‘glass’ is the traditional gift for the fifteenth anniversary, I think all hockey moms should start off their fifteenth season with a nice new wine glass! Preferably filled, of course! But then who am I kidding? I start off every hockey season with a new wine glass!

With new wine glass in hand, I can think of a few other things that would make the hockey season go down a little easier. You know, like …

  • A chauffeur
  • A GPS (for my chauffeur, of course)
  • A skate-sharpening machine
  • Magic, regenerating hockey sticks
  • A 3D printer (that spits out food)
  • A life-size Taylor Swift body suit and mask (for those Saturday mornings I haven’t showered)
  • Self-renewing hockey laces
  • A brand new unlimited Tim’s coffee card
  • Deodorizers (preferably one that comes with an ozone cleaning machine)
  • A personal, portable battery-operated heater
  • Never-ending role of hockey tape (can never have enough hockey tape)
  • A million dollars (yes, actually, that would be round of my wish list nicely)

We’ve already invented a self-parking car, a selfie stick, and a watch that tell us our flights are delayed, surely someone out there is working on my wish list?

Sigh.

September is upon us, and it’s time to pull out my hockey blanket and put an extra pair of socks in my purse.

So much for progress.

Hope your summer is winding down slower than mine.

 

It’s Friday night and I’m at the hockey arena. It’s no big deal. Since becoming a hockey mom fourteen years ago, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a hockey arena on a Friday night! What can I say? I have an impressive social life.

Only this time, I’m not here with one of my three kids; I’m here with one of my friend’s kids. Again, because of my impressive social life, I need to be at a hockey arena on a Friday evening.

This boy’s parents, our friends and neighbours, are off to a family wedding at an adults-only resort in the Dominican Republic and being fourteen, he’s too young to join them. I think he could have passed for an eighteen year old, but whatever. I don’t even think there was a wedding, but whatever.

Thursday evening, my friend drops off her son for his 10-day retreat Chez Astra with $50 and a list of his weekly activities. I tell her “Hey, not to be rude or anything, but I don’t think this is going to cover my weekly LCBO purchases” and she doesn’t think this is funny.*

At first it looks like I might get out of the Friday night hockey carpool gig because I have company coming to visit . Then my guests decline and I mention this at dinner Thursday evening.

“Oh! So you can take me to hockey then?”

Quick. Think of something.

Only nothing comes to mind, and I concede: looks like I’m spending Friday night at the hockey arena.

After a 30-minute drive during which any question I asked was responded by him pulling his ear plug out and asking, “Excuse me?” I should know better; I drop all efforts to converse. I leave him at the front door of the arena and tell him, “I have a few errands to run (like running to the LCBO) but I’ll be here to watch the last twenty minutes” and off he goes.

This hockey arena has four ice pads and I forgot to ask him which surface he was playing on. I quickly size up the place: Pad 1 has girls on it  – moving on. Pad 2 has little tykes on I,t so I move on again. Pads 3 and 4 both look like they’re hosting groups of 14 year olds. I spend a few minutes checking out the teams on Pad 3 but I don’t see our underage, unemployed free loader. I move over to Pad 4 and see him chasing the puck down the ice.

I flash my best fake yeah-thumbs-up in his general direction, mostly because I sure as hell don’t want to have spent a Friday night at the hockey arena without him noticing my efforts! The game appears to end in a 2-2 tie, and I retreat to the foyer to await his return from the dressing room. I then run into another hockey mom I know from my daughter’s hockey team last season. After some chit-chat, she asks what team Emily is playing on tonight – because it would be normal for me to be here with my own child. I tell her that I’m here with a friend’s son and am just waiting for him to change, gesturing in the direction of Pad 4.

All of a sudden, my friend’s son comes up behind me and says, “Hey, I’m ready to go!” I wheel around and ask, “Where did you come from?” “My game. Over there” gesturing to Pad 3.

“You weren’t playing on Pad 4?”

“Nope”

“Oh. I see. So. You were not the one I gave a thumbs up to?”

Thank God I didn’t bang on the glass.

 “Did you even watch my game?”

 “No. I was watching the game on pad 4.”

“Who was playing on Pad 4” he asks, and it’s not a bad question.

“I thought you were.”

So, not only did I take a child not my own to a hockey game, I watch almost an entire game of complete strangers. Loserdom has my name on it.

“Let’s keep this between the two of us, okay?” I implore to him.

“Sure” he says. “Just like you’re going to keep the two chocolate bars before dinner between the two of us too, right?”

It’s a deal.

~~~

*Truth be told, she also dropped off all his lunches, and two or three meals for our entire family (which had just grown to six people) but whatever – it’s my story.

I hate being asked “what’s for dinner?” almost as much as I hate being asked,”where do babies come from?” I have a solution for the first question (sorry, there’s no solution for the second question).
Check out my latest Hockey Mom Mondays post at HockeyNow.  http://hockeynow.ca/blog/mom-mondays-compliments-to-the-chef-chef-hockey-mom-that-is-

My daughter and I were hockey implants this past weekend.

It’s not what you think.

Technically, she was the implant, I was the transplant.

She was invited by another team to a hockey tournament in Jay Peak, Vermont (uh huh, so skiing was also involved too!) as a pick-up player. Several players from a team in her association were unable to attend this tournament so they get to pick up players from another team, hence their invitation to us – I mean, my daughter. It was her job to play hockey for this team; it was my job to get her there (well, my husband’s. Given there was skiing involved, we made this a ski-hockey-waterpark weekend).

It seems a lot of parents of recreational hockey won’t travel to out-of-town tournaments. Cost, time, winter roads, whatever. But out-of-town hockey tournaments is what I love about being a hockey mom (in fact, they may even be why I tolerate minor hockey).

And I’m not the only one. When our hockey years are behind us, I can guarantee you that all three of my kids will look back on their minor hockey careers and the out-of-town tournaments as being the bomb dot com. (I learned that phrase from my daughter and I can’t stop using it.)

Out-of-town hockey tournaments offer an opportunity to play teams from other cities (heck, from other countries, as was the case this past weekend!) and is like a mini-vacation (despite a typically busy game schedule particularly if your team advances beyond round robin play). It offers a brief but reliable antidote to the ho-hum doldrums of the cold, Canadian winter. It offers families the chance to dispense with normal routine of school and work – and to travel and sleep in close quarters (the only form of winter camping I’ll agree to).  It offers the potential of a new town or city or food or folklore to explore and who can deny the enriched learning experience kids derive from hotel swimming pools, mini stick hockey in the lobby and terrorizing hotel security guards after quiet hour (despite me having signed numerous waivers over the years promising precisely not to do so!)??

Some of the teams my kids have been on have had six tournaments a season (when playing competitive hockey) and some of our teams have only been to two. Regardless of the number or the timing (except for maybe The Great Hockey Weekend of 2012, which we do not speak of in our household), I will never vote down a hockey tournament weekend.

I like hockey tournaments. I know my kids love hockey tournaments.

I liked being a hockey implant and I’m certain my daughter enjoyed being a hockey implant too.

And I think we make the perkiest of hockey implants out there!

ice haus

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
Buy Astra’s book “Offside by a Mile”!
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