Tailgating Moms:Not Who You Think We Are

tailgate banner

When my son was younger, I was running helter-skelter trying to try and get him here and there, barely managing to make ends meet, but encouraging his athleticism. I had little time to socialize with other parents, but enjoyed their company while I sat in the stands and watched. I lived for our stinky drive home, and hearing all about the highs and lows of his game.

Today he is a scholarship player and represents our country on the national team. I go to his games, but I drive home without him.

My job now is to love unconditionally as mom’s do, and stay out of his hair.

The Parents-of-Players group at his school was surely developed by some mom-genius, who, like me, missed her kiddo more than anything, but realized the need to leave him the heck alone. Leave him the heck alone – yes, but still be there when he needs to look up and know at least one person is cheering him on.

And thus my tale of parent tailgating begins.

This morning I got up, prepared to cook,  before heading out on a roadtrip to support my boy and his team.

Thanks to the ridiculously photogenic food on Pinterest, I decided to make mini-corn-dog poppers and puff-pastry taco bites. Both seemed like good finger-food options, and anything that keeps me busy as I adjust to an empty nest is a good thing.

I set out this morning chopping weiners and rolling pastry.


I’m not sure whether the mini-corn-dog muffins look more like buttholes or nipples, and furthermore, I’m not sure a food label Bum-Bites or Nipple-Nips would help their popularity or my place in the hierarchy of respectable parents. The taco bites ballooned into something much larger than I expected.

I’m a little disappointed in my contribution to the party, but determined.

As the parent of a first year player, I’ve been welcomed with open arms into this group, who are teaching me how to celebrate the letting go, and next year, I want to be able to do the same for another first-year mom.

I have my second-hand red pants ready to wear, my ‘mom’ jacket and my air horn ready to go, along with the lawn-chairs, banner, flags and blankets.

Being around other parents proud to be part of their children’s lives is a joy.  Tailgating moms are not the hard-core, screaming fans you think they are. They are moms, with hearts as big and generous as the sky.

 

 

 

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Sports Moms – When It’s Your Turn to Be Inspired

football benchAbout two weeks ago I was brought to my knees by sharp pain and then was overcome with panic.

I thought I had a heart attack.

A little thick around the middle, and always in the kitchen, I made a quick decision to become more active. Not running-marathons-and-and-eating-kelp-sandwiches-active, but more active.

Flashback a billion years to all of the summers, winters, springs and falls that I sat on the sidelines cheering on my athletically gifted kiddo. I drank a lot of tea from drive-thru windows and kept the company of other parents doing the very same thing.  As he ran and played, I was plopped in a lawnchair, making sure that when he looked up, Mom was there. I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking at 11pm after late baseball games so he went to bed with a full tummy. So my  butt got a little chunky.

I have been all of the following; a baseball mom, a football mom, a cricket mom, a basketball mom, a curling mom, a badminton mom and  a did-you-do-your-homework-mom.

During the past two weeks, I have developed a greater appreciation of my child’s experience during his childhood of sporting.  How much did my presence feel like pushing? How much did it feel like support? I guess I’ll never really know.  What I always hoped was that he was doing something he loved, that made him feel good, and made him feel proud of himself. I wanted my boy to have confidence.

What I do know is that pushing through the discomfort of new levels of physical movement takes some grit. Trust me, I’ve had to have grit a’plenty during my lifetime, but it’s been a mental grit. A determination to get through one day at a time. Physical grit, not so much.

My body has always had a comfortable ease about it. I was built for hugging, cuddling, and lounging during long, philosophical conversations about religion, politics and gender equality issues.   Wine adores my body. So does chocolate, champagne and puff pastry.

So I’m swinging a golf club for the first time, and running my ass off, and sweating. Like a man. It’s not pretty, and parts of me actually hurt.

I can’t help but think of my son. I think of how hard he as worked to accomplish the things that he has. He’s on a national sports team, plays a bahzillion sports, and maintains his grades, and also puts up with a rather flamboyant mamma.

My old bones ache in places where I forgot it could possibly hurt in the first place, and it reminds me of how hard my son has worked and what strength and grace he’s had to develop in order to accomplish  it all.

Running at my little gym, I have an extraordinary view of a public play-space and just beyond that a beautiful lake in the middle of our bustling city. I watch parents come out and play with their kids, some of them shooting baskets, and others, likely tired single-moms like I was, sitting in a chair and keeping an eye on their kids as they play.

portable locker roomI want to go out there and tell those weary parents that it’s all worth it; that team sports and athletics are worth every early morning, every weekend taken up with tournaments, and all of the leaving early and working overtime that has to happen to make it work.  Not because it just keeps their bodies healthy, but because it develops character and forms strong bonds of friendship. I want to tell those parents that gaining an extra ten or twenty pounds is not the end of the world. Missing your kids’ childhood is.

So, this afternoon, when what I really want to do is nap with the cat. I will likely be running my little 30 minute marathon, because my son sets a damn good example and if he can push himself to do it, damn it, so can I.

When you raise an athlete, there comes a turning point where you are no longer their inspiration. Instead, they become yours. It’s a very hard feeling to describe. Pride doesn’t quite cut it, but joy comes close.

 

 

That’s a Mighty Fine Driver You Have There Sir: The Un-fore-seen Benefits of Golfing with Your GF

basket-of-golf-ballsToday was a first. The left side of my mid-back is whispering caution to me. It’s rather insistent that tomorrow I may be in some pain. The right side is nodding in agreement.

My sweetie finally took me to the driving range. Brave? Yes. But not brave enough to take me out on a for-real golf course, and who can blame him?

About midway through the ‘jumbo’ bucket of balls, I thought that I had hit him in the back. You see, I made contact with the little white devil, but it took off toward my baby on a trajectory akin to tiles blowing off a space-shuttle. I must have missed his left ear by an inch. For a full two hours, he patiently took me through a range of clubs and tried teaching me the basics, and he didn’t swear once…out loud.

bad golfer

As you all know, I’m incredibly patient. Ok, maybe a teensy-tiny-eensy-weensy-bit patient. Or not. By the time we were chipping,  I held out my hand and let him know I was already an expert and his blathering was unnecessary. My chipping as it turns out, sucks.

My putting is slightly better if I have my arms over my voluptuous breasts, which means the damn club sticks out perpendicular to the ground and I have to bend over like some weirdo with a metal detector on the beach to ‘pendulum’ like my sexy instructor was trying to demonstrate. You see, his breasts are significantly smaller than mine, and penduluming is not such a challenge for him.

I made contact with the ball (most of the time), and if I were aiming 120 degrees to my right, I was dead on target. By the time I finished with the driver, I could really appreciate my man’s talent.

And maybe that’s why I think I’m going to love the game. A woman like me likes a challenge, and some fun. I can’t wait to go again.  Perhaps when my man buys a helmet he’ll take me on another hot driving-range date.

Laugh as you may, it was a great way to spend the afternoon. I’m a strong, confident, capable woman. There are very few things that a man can do that impresses me to the point I’m actually attracted to him because of it.

But today was the day for my man. He was good at it. Like, crazy good. He made it look easy, and I was struggling to even connect.  It made me kinda hot for him, in that grrrrr, you’re a manly-man kind of way.

He doesn’t know it yet, but his patience may just pay off for him two-fold. He may have a willing partner to hit the links with every chance we get, and he may also have a lady who needs to go immediately home for some good lovin’s when we come off the course. All of a sudden, I can appreciate his driver just a little bit more.

Friday Night Lights: Being a Sports Mom

A football mom opens her home, heart and fridge to the entire team...

A football mom opens her home, heart and fridge to the entire team…

It’s not about yelling like you’re a creature from a Spielberg movie. It’s not about winning or losing, although winning is a great feeling.

Years ago, during my first year of University, I enrolled in a selected topics American History class, and one of the first units we delved into was, “Sport As Religion in North America”.

Little did I know then that I would raise a child who would prove this theory true.

Welcome to the kingdom and community of little league sports.

Supporting your child’s interest in sports allows you to  watch your child do something they love, interact with a group of peers and take direction from a coach.

It’s about knowing that they’re learning social skills and critical thinking skills as they keep their body vibrant.

Being a ‘single’ sports parent has not always allowed me the freedom or flexibility to be at every game or every tournament, but you can bet your buns if I could be there, I was. When I couldn’t other parents stepped in to help, and when I could, I returned the favour.

Tonight I dropped the kiddo off to catch the team bus to his first football game of the season. He has practiced, trained and worked hard to make sure that he does his best for himself, and for his team. He’s also eaten me out of house and home. What a glorious parenting problem to have; a healthy child.

Tonight when the gang gets there to cheer him on, we will huddle under blankets, eat hot-dogs, catch up on each others’ news. When he looks up to find his crazy old mother with the giant team-coloured finger and tie-dyed blanket, and his video-camera carrying dad,  he’ll know that we’ve got his back.

Tonight I will reconnect with other parents I’ve known for years, new parents who are nervous about how their own child is fitting into a new high school and a new team. Being a sports mom is about embracing the experience, and being able to scope out the nearest bathroom, ice-cream or sub shop.

Being a sports mom is about giving your kids opportunities to build self-esteem, relationships, and confidence. It’s also about letting go and giving them the freedom to explore what sports they love and which ones they don’t love.

It’s also about having a car full of rain-ready-gear, mittens, hats, boots and various and sundry other creature comforts that make braving the elements a bit more pleasant.

Wishing every sports mom out there a fabulous football season (which, as you know, conflicts with baseball try-outs and basketball)…and for everything else, there’s wine…

Things That Make Me Happy

I think we all have enough of ‘have-to’s’ in our life. Let’s take a little peek at some of the lovely things that make life a little more bearable….

(all photos found on yahoo.ca)

Daffodils – the first sign of spring way up here in the Great-White-North.

 

firstsignspringGulpable wine

red-wine-wallpaper

Hot coffee in the morning

coffeemorning

A Shoulder to Lean On…a strong, competent shoulder…

shouldertoleanon

A really good book

gatsby

..and another wonderful book patiently waiting to be read…

bookonbed

Candlelit baths

bathbycandle

Being read poetry while in the bath

NerudaPoem

Kittens and old cats…

kitties

The first ball-game of the season

baseball

…and the first ballpark frank and cold beer…

beerandhotdog

…and the next season of ball…

oregon

Dinner with kindred spirits

bestnight

Kisses in the rain

rainkisses

Stargazing

Deep space nebulae

Waking without an alarm clock or agenda

sleepingin

Celebrating (anything) with champagne

champagne

Kindness

adopt

 

Water: The Element of Truth

Marina Cay, BVI

Marina Cay, BVI

When I was a little girl, I fell in love. I fell head over heals in love. With a boat. My beloved allowed me to romp and roam, never do my hair, or care what I wore. There was a freedom in that loving that was so innocent and complete, that it has stayed with me, and never left.

In my youth, I would spend hours climbing down the clay cliffs along Lake Erie, and sit on the rock wall watching the waves roll by. Stormy weather was always my favourite, when the water seemed to speak to me, and the timeless knowledge of stillness that it taught would seep deep into my tender bones.

It never left even as I moved further away from a shoreline. The water has always had a pull that some call seductive. In my case, it’s a matter of survival. For too long I have been landlocked; working, momming, worrying about what comes next.

Estrangement from family at a young age is a wild and wonderful thing. Although there is no anchoring in genealogy or tradition, it gives you the freedom to heal and create a life of your choosing. Having done that, I have a visceral knowledge of the famous lyrics, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose“.

So, as I felt my breathing become more shallow, my anxiety at the breaking point, and my heart void of the ability to recognize hope or joy, I took a leap of faith. Instead of a sterile all-inclusive getaway, I put my money and my favour on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a crew of 8 on a sailing adventure through the British Virgin Islands.

A sailing course would have been a good idea, but I tend to jump in feet first. Sink or swim. Love it or hate it. I (gulp)…committed.

I did very little of the ‘sailing’ and a lot of learning. Having had some experience on a boat with regard to the importance of speed and preparedness, I did what I could, and tried to stay out of the way.

JVD White BayYears of counseling and working in crisis situations has given me a keen sense of relationship dynamics, and having a new group together in a confined space for a period of 10 days is a telling crucible. Boats and water have a wonderful way of distilling our personalities and revealing the most miniscule cracks. Flaws that were easy to ignore on land, burst open and whether you like it or not, you’ve gotta face whatever it is.  Water has a wonderful way of washing away the superficial crud of every day. It is a truth-revealing element.

During this particular adventure, I gained a new respect for people I’ve known casually for a long time, a clear picture of who the new folks really are, and let’s just say the ugliness of another was rinsed to sparkling, and filed in the ‘Barnacles of Life’ pile and left to dry in the sun like discarded sea-creature entrails.

The ocean is vast and claustrophobic all at once. Once upon a time someone told me that when they stood on the cliffs and looked out over Lake Erie that they were at the end of the world. I knew that we were not kindred spirits. When I stood on those same cliffs and looked out over the lake with nothing but water, horizon and sky, I always felt like I was just at the beginning of everything.Sunset Boat 3

When I was a tom-boyish ten year old, with wild hair and sunkissed skin, I often dreamed of one day living on  a boat and being rocked to sleep by the sound of the water lapping at the hull. As a workaholic adult, I finally got the chance, if only for a couple of weeks.

It was just enough to reset my mind and body. It was enough to throw open the weathered shutters of fatigue and allow sunlight to shine on hope again.

On Being a Weirdo

~Anne Taintor~

~Anne Taintor~

Despite being told by a number of men that they love strong, intelligent women, I have come to the conclusion that they have all been full of el-poopo, and that stinks.

During a recent conversation with a friend-of-the-same-vintage, I came to the conclusion, that I was the only common denominator among my failed dating adventures, and I think it’s because I’m a bit weird.

You see, I was weird before nerdy was cool. Way before it was cool.

As a little girl, my older, much into-material frou-frou sister used to turn up her nose and say, “You’re a weirdo.”

It was intended as an insult of course, but coming from someone whose personal ethic never really did it for me, I could have cared less.

As the years have passed, I realize that despite academic and career achievement  I am, indeed still that weirdo. I’m interested in process and theory as it relates to real world applications. I am fascinated by physics and karmic energy. War strategy and architecture make me lose track of time, and good writing, I mean really good, authentic journalism makes me sigh.

When Indigo designed their marketing-to-men menagerie’s, I was a bit taken aback. It seemed like anything interesting, thought-provoking, or requiring an IQ above village-idiot-level was considered man-territory. Pish posh!

I too enjoy a nice single-malt, swig of lager and adventure autobiography. In fact, unless I had a personal shopper who called me when the new seasonal suits were in at my fashion atelier of choice, I’d go to work looking like a homeless person.  I am a hard-working, professional woman, and my personal philosophy is that I should not be giving the majority of my mental effort to matching trinkets while my male counterparts get away with less education, lack of experience and are considered extraordinary dressers if their shirts are pressed.

Granted I’m motherly and like girl stuff like kittens, embroidery, romance novels, baking and jewelry. I love wearing frilly things and having my nails done when I spend time with the man of the hour and I’m a very strong, intelligent, independent woman who often likes to kick back with a beer on Friday night. I like baseball games and musical theatre. I love to camp, fish, canoe, and can also relax in a jacuzzi with vintage champagne. I enjoy it all equally. I enjoy sex for the sake of it, and reserve my heart for someone worthy.

If all of that makes me a weirdo in the eyes of the majority, then so be it.  I’ve decided that the majority of age-appropriate single men don’t have a clue what to do with a woman who can be a friend of equal or superior intellect and a lover.

To the other female weirdos out there – don’t change a thing. To the men who don’t know what to do with us – grow a pair.

Not-So-Little-League; an Adult Obsession

thesearekidsToday was not a good day in the land of mom, or local little league for that matter.

For years I have been grateful to the coaches and volunteers who have come together to help kids in our city play sports. I’ve been a hockey mom, a soccer mom, a baseball mom, a football mom, a curling mom, a basketball mom, and a happy mom.

I have also been an annoyed mom.

Annoyed when adults with something to prove take the fun out of the sport for kids. I’ve seen parents yell at their kids, other people’s kids, and act like barbaric fools over kids’ sports.

Most of the time I wear my trademark grin, and waddle away silent, with a happy kiddo. But not today. Today I lost my ever-present-cool, and let someone have it. The only thing I regret is that every single parent who has ever interfered in their child’s sports like a whiny six-year-old didn’t get the full lecture.

Let me lay out some basic rules for you over-enthusiastic-never-made-the-team-I-live-vicariously-through-my-own-child goombas;

1) It’s a game. Play by the rules and honour sportsmanship above all else.

2) It’s a game. Cheer for the great stuff going on at the rink, on the field, on the court. Don’t shame a kid because they aren’t a professional athlete.

3) It’s a game. Your ego means nothing. How the kids come off the field/ice/court/whatever is all that matters. Are they smiling? Do they make everyone on the team feel valued? If you can answer yes to both of these questions nothing else matters.

4) It’s a game. DO NOT use the words, ‘sign’,  ‘draft’, or ‘release’ when you’re talking about kids and sports. If you find yourself using these words and taking yourself seriously, clearly you need to march your chubby-has-been-buns off to an old-timers team and get busy. You are not helping the kids, you are pathetic.

5) It’s a game. Thank your coaches. It’s a huge commitment, and a good coach is a blessing.  Goodness knows that I haven’t a clue about how to be a good coach. I just know that my child has been blessed with some amazing ones.

6) It’s a game. Don’t play politics with minor sports. Kids need this now more than ever. If you want to play politics, start reading and paying attention to our career-quasi-Hollywood politicians already in office. That’s a sport for adults.

7) It’s a game. It’s not all about winning or losing (although winning is indeed pretty darn sweet). It’s about commitment, integrity, and getting better than you were the day before.

8) It’s a game. Have fun with each other. Enjoy the time you get to spend with other parents who want the best for their children. Revert to your childhood, and enjoy being out and active with your community.

After a week of over-the-top bullying by adults trying to run little league like it’s the MLB, I thought that sharing some of my tips might be helpful, inspiring, or even just reassuring to other parents.

It’s about fun, learning and not about making it such an over-the-top-ego-circus that you tick off the momma. ‘Cause when the momma gets angry, ain’t nobody having fun.

Bittersweet Summertime

farmersmarketBaseball season and football season start the official overlap tomorrow at our house. That means autumn is on the way.

The seasons are marked at our house according to what kind of footwear the kiddo needs; football cleats, baseball spikes, curling sliders, court shoes, water shoes…you name it, we’ve got it.

We are at the front end of what I refer to as deep summer.

I am ready to start canning tomatoes, salsa, chili sauce, and pickling beets. I wedge my domestic chores in between practices, playoffs and football camp. Oh yes, and my fuller-than-full-time-gig as a professional, working, single mom.

This is a bittersweet time of year. The sun is setting earlier, and there’s a crisp edge to damp air each evening when I sit out on my little patio before bedtime.

Although I love the summer sunshine,the tail end of the season is more precious because we can feel it slipping away.

I capture the essence of August in the fresh produce put up for another cold, icy winter, and enjoying the sunshine into the autumn.

As sweet as summertime is, fall has always been the season of my heart.

I give you another list;

 ~Reasons that the end of Summer & Cool Fall days are the Best Time of the Year~

1) Cool nights that call for sweaters and curling in up with your true-love under a blanket, watching for falling stars.

2) Canning and preserving all the delicious fruits of your summer time gardening-labours.

3) Pumpkin spice lattes. Pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving turkey.

4) Football season, and cheering on your local team.

5) Fuzzy socks

6) Long drives along winding roads to buy your produce from small farmer’s markets.

7) Winery tours during the grape harvest.

8) Long walks, holding hands and kisses on cold lips and cold noses.

9)  Delicious, hearty stews by candlelight with red wine and hoards of good company.

10) The World Series.

~Wishing you sunny days and a satisfying slide into autumn.~

 

 

 

 

Ready for the Weekend

glamperI’m always ready for the weekend.

More precisely, I’m always ready for a day off.

More recently, with my new gig, weekends are a day, or day and a half long at best, but I make the most of them.

So, today as you head out, if you’re looking forward to a couple of days off, or maybe just one, be sure you set aside some time for something that makes your spirit come alive.

If it’s art, writing, music, dance….do that. And don’t feel guilty about taking the time for yourself.

If it’s special time with someone whom you have a deep connection with, go see them. Set a breakfast date, take a sandwich and bottle of wine to the park, and catch up.

Whatever you choose to do,  savour every moment.

When you’re getting up Monday morning, recall how you feel in your moments of greatest joy, and live in that feeling the rest of the week.

Wishing you a fabulous Friday my tart little rhubarb crisps.  Don’t be afraid to shine.