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.