The 2010-11 hockey season, now officially over, was continually pierced with apprehension and worry. Not because the Sens and the Leafs struggle for a playoffs berth, much to absolutely no one’s surprise, did not happen. No, you see, though I have been a hockey mom for 11+ years, this was my first season as a hockey mom of three goalies. Three goalies. I have lived under the same roof for 8 months now with three – 3 – goalies and one goalie dad. While my kids were peppered with shots, I was peppered with stress. Who, out there, can top that? If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I could never be a goalie mom”, well, never mind; you get the idea. I just smile as no witty reply comes to mind. My kids’ time in the creases has aged me, added wrinkles and grey hairs.
Being a goalie in hockey is a position that often garners special attention. Usually goalies are unique, sometimes peculiar people with even more peculiar superstitions bordering on OCD. I hope my kids’ bias for the position is no reflection on how them and how we’ve raised them. So as the season began late last year, I was the goalie’s mom: one atom goalie and two bantam goalies. There are a few things that I now know for sure.
This I know: you can always pick out a goalie mom in the stands by her distinctive moves. Before the game, I casually blend in with the other hockey parents, but once the puck drops and the game officially begins, the tell-tale “Goalie mom” signs begin to manifest themselves. As the puck crosses the blue line, I am the one slowly starting to rock back and forth in goalie mom stupor. I believe that if no one on the ice can do it, my sheer willpower will get that puck out of our zone. Magically, as the puck is cleared, the trance-like swaying ceases and I can resume normal cheering for a goal. If the puck fails to be cleared from our zone, I am the one with her hands in prayer position or covering her eyes while maintaining my bobbling. Namaste, Namaste, om, om, om. If all else fails, a cheery “Dammit, move the puck outta there!!!” is shouted unless I can’t because I am holding my breath.
This I know: a goalie mom had eyes on the back of her head. I now possess amazing periphery vision because I’ve learned to catch the shots on net (i.e., on my child) from the corners of my eyes. Doing so is a bit risky because you can’t admit that you missed the phenomenal save but the crushing disappointment of the goal is too difficult to endure. This highly developed sense of vision comes in handy elsewhere in life as I effectively deny my daughter a cookie with the same eagle side eye I watch her denying her on-ice opponents.
This I know: a goalie mom only pretends to have patience. I am fully capable of projecting a false pretence of it. The energy expended to exude patience and calm during a game gives way to a noticeable void of same said virtue elsewhere in my life. The game, which has seen my blood pressure elevated to dangerous levels then plummet back to normal (normal?), has ended and the casual request for sustenance (or Slushie) can make me snap quicker than an Zdeno Chara slapshot.
This I know: goalie moms limit eye contact. Of course I know it’s a team sport and a team loss is rarely the sole fault of the goal tender, but the mistakes of a goalie are laid bare for all to witness. On the other hand, I know when it’s a good game, my goalies are the superstars! Good or bad game, the goalie is first to be congratulated or consoled and this goalie mom has learned to find a quiet corner of my own to which retreat. Thankfully, as a den mom on my daughter’s team, it’s easy to pre-occupy myself as Equipment Manager of the goalie than indulge in post-game analysis.
This I know: goalie equipment is really heavy and really cumbersome. Most other parents use hockey as a tool for teaching responsibility. “It’s your equipment, you take it in … you look after it”. The boys can manage, but I just can’t bring myself to make my daughter lift a 40lb bag of gear with her 62lb body. Heck, she still fits securely into one of the side pouches. Instead of resembling the romanticized gladiator some NHL commercials suggest of player equipment, my newest little goalie looks more like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story after his mom has dressed him for the cold walk to school.
This I know: a goalie’s reflexes are fast! The only one in the family who has ever broken a glass or dish is me. All 3 of my kids can catch it before it hits the floor!
Seems my oldest is now ready to hang up his goalie pads, a position for which he’s managed to grab his share of attention these past five years. I wonder if wrinkles and grey hairs are proportional to amount of games I watch as a goalie mom. If so, I am in luck… I’ll only have two goalies for the 2011-12 hockey season … plus one player.