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

 

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.

The First Signs of Spring

shortsIt used to be robins, today, it’s men in cycling gear.  Something that can’t be unseen no matter how fast you look away or how hard you blink.

Spring in the city makes me want to take a road trip, sit by a window and watch in fascination as people take to the sunshine and streets, defying Old Man Winter’s refusal to pass the baton to Mother Nature.

Feeling a bit frisky and sorry for myself at the same time, I took myself out for lunch and enjoyed one of my favourite meals.

“Are you waiting for someone?” My server asked, using a tone which indicated that she assumed I was indeed, waiting for someone.  She was right and she was wrong. Waiting for her? Yes. Waiting for someone to join me at my table by the window? No.

“No, I know exactly what I’d like to order I said.” And so it went, in an efficient manner, I was served a glass of one of my very favourite reds  ( Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture 2010) together with my prosciutto, gorgonzola and pear pizza.

All around me, the restaurant on Toronto’s Queen West hip-strip was hopping with foot-traffic. As I savoured the first bites of my pizza, I was struck with one of the rare, but quite lasting moments of contentment that only a single woman can know.  Le sigh….the world was good and gracious, and manageable in that moment. I do know what I want, I thought to myself, repeating a line used on me by a boy-man last week,  and that’s a damn good quality to have. Decisive women are  rare, wild and beautiful.

A Buddhist quote about finding one’s equal in love passed through my wine focused mind. It says something about being better off alone than being in relationship with a moron (my words not Buddha’s). I had to agree, although steamy affairs of the heart are also under-rated as tonics for sallow complexions and dull skin.

Having not had breakfast, the wine took effect with speed. “The more to entertain yourself with my dear“, it seemed to wink from the glass. Thus I was struck with the need to share one of my top ten lists with you my darlings.

Let’s call it, my Ostara Musings on How Weird We Are…

1) Let’s start with men in cycling gear. Not just the shorts that make their penises look like hamsters poking their noses out of a stack of wood shavings, but the entire ensemble. Pointed shoes? Pointy helmets? Clinging wind breakers? Seriously. Men! This is not a good look. Ever.

2) This whole new media-objectifying-men’s-bodies is amusing, although the resulting skeletal-man-who-pays-way-too-much-attention-to-his-facial-hair is a bit emasculating. Cue the lumberjack number, and bring me some nice thick thighs please won’t you?

3) What’s with Asian women in pleated skirts and fedora’s? Cute, but overdone. I believe that hats, like stage props, must have a definite purpose or be left in the closet.

4) Somehow parents have missed out on teaching kids manners, and gone straight for extending their egos to raise narcissistic little bots. As I was happily munching, some pretentious three-footer came in and announced, “The reservation is under MacKenzie”. Really?  How about a polite salutation you crude little turd?

5)We all talk about dreams and travel and great loves, but very few people really have the balls to take risks any more. Stop talking at your minimum-wage-water-coolers and go do something. Make wild-passionate-love to someone who’s all wrong, pack a bag and get on a plane….Security comes at a heavy cost to our freedom and sense of wonder.

6) Grammar snobs are as annoying as fraying elastic in your panties. When someone is expressing an emotion, thought or sharing anything with you, it’s just bad form to correct their grammar. It’s also a passive aggressive way to make yourself feel better. Today, I did however find a word that I fell in love with, although will likely never use outside of this post; myotahpea (n): the feeling of shame you experience on behalf of another person when they do something stupid or embarrassing. Kinda like when I heard that little kid announce his last name for reservations as if it were Windsor, and  what I felt each time I saw some guy’s skinny legs and shriveled pee-pee stuffed in bike pants.

7) People wish for things they never go after. Wee-ird. Not me. I wish for Rheo Thompson milk chocolate covered cherries, and I damn well drive there and get them. Road trip to Stratford next weekend anyone???

…..I usually stop at ten when I’m making lists, but I think I’ve given you enough to ponder for a Sunday evening…

Stay well, be happy.

 

 

Baseball Etiquette

Ace the Toronto Blue Jays Mascot

Ace the Toronto Blue Jays Mascot (Photo credit: mutrock)

Spring heralds baseball season, and in the height of spring fever, fans, and wanna-be-fans flock to the ball parks.

Most of them for a one-off guzzle of beer, purchase of team gear, and a slew of selfies in the stands.

For the die-hard fans, the ones who actually go to watch the game, ballpark etiquette is de rigueur. It allows us to enjoy the game in close proximity to tens of thousands of other fans in  a civilized manner.

We do not behave like ‘football’ fans, trampling one another in our exuberance, or getting into brawls. Baseball is a gentleman’s game darlings.

As a female baseball fan, it’s terribly unbecoming to have to pitch a fit. Like today for instance, having to politely tell the gentlemen next to me to, “Sit the fuck down,” I was reminded that perhaps the poor young man was not aware that folks actually show up to watch the game.

As a seasoned baseball fan, I felt it was incumbent upon me to let the young man know that we do come to watch the game, and not how many beverages he  drinks,  or get a rather less-than-awe-inspiring view of his underwear as he scoots back and forth in front of me mid-at-bat.

“Sweetie,” I gently said, ” the beer guy actually comes up here. You don’t need to go get one.” I’m nothing if I’m not helpful.

After getting up and down more times than a sinner at Easter Mass, I felt a list of helpful etiquette hints might help out those poor lost souls who act like ignorant tits at the ball park;

1) If you must get up during the game, do so when mid-inning when the fielders are switching places on the field. Expect a steaming wiener in your ear if you wiggle your way through the bleachers while the home team is either pitching or at bat.

2)If you came to drink, sit down and shut the fuck up. Again, beer guy comes to you. No one needs your inebriated slobber flying in their personal space as you trash talk the other team.

3)Children. The ball park is absolutely the place for kids. If you bring one, engage them in the game so they enjoy it and learn something.  If I have your ketchup-faced kid breathing down my neck and kicking my seat, expect to be given the stink-eye.

4) Streakers. Please, please, please, run faster. There’s nothing like a good streaker to liven up the outfield. I do understand that we’ve become a more punitive society, so I understand if you don’t streak in your birthday suit, but don’t rule it out. We love  streakers.

5) Booing the home team. Really? Don’t boo your own team – stroke their ego, pump them up, treat them like the vulnerable-talented-multi-million-dollar-large-children that they are.

6) The wave. Do it.

7) The national anthem. Also, shut up or sing. Those are your only two options. The time for woo-hooing, cheering, and yee-hawing is just after the first pitch leaves the pitcher’s mound.

8) Large purses. If you bring an over-the-shoulder-anything, or a back pack, please make sure it doesn’t disembowel anyone on your way through the crowd. This unfortunately is for those who are up and down like popcorn.

I hope this helps clarify etiquette at the ball park. Please do all of us baseball fans a favour and pass this along to any would-be-fans.  Let’s keep the ball park wholesome my sweet little dumplings.

If you only remember one thing, please, for the love of all that’s holy, let the beer guy come to you.