May 16, 2011

Confessions of a Soccer Mom

© Cathysbelleimage |

I am sitting down with ice on my legs as I write this. I am not tidying the house or carrying loads of laundry up and down the stairs because I simply cannot. Last night I played in my first soccer game...ever.
Registering the kids for various activities and schlepping them all over town to ballet, hockey, skating lessons, soccer, Sparks and Beavers (just to name a few) is something that I do with love. I make a concerted effort not to over-schedule our time, not only for the kids’ sake but for my own sanity. However, two activities each multiplied by three kids and a spouse who is often out of town makes mom a little nuts.
So I had a brilliant revelation: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Yes, I confess. I signed up for a Women’s Over 19 Soccer House League on the urging of a school-mom friend of mine. I bought my first pair of cleats (black with hot pink) and my first shinguards (also hot pink). I arrived early to pick up my uniform and surveyed the other players. Most of them looked just over 19 and I figured that I must be in the wrong spot. Thankfully I saw the more harried (and older) moms rushing in after the dinner rush at home. Phew! My jersey is navy blue with red trim and I managed to snag my favourite number: lucky number 7. I was all set.
On Sunday night, I arrived trepadatiously at the field in the cold wind and rain praying that someone might have the sense to cancel the game and give me a week’s reprieve. They did not. And even with my repeated “I have no idea what I am doing” and “I have never EVER played before” my teammates encouraged me and still put me on the field. My heart was pounding. I was afraid of the ball (not a good start), the other players and generally of embarrassing myself.
Thankfully all those hours spent on the sidelines cheering on my uniformed kids on the pitch has somewhat paid of. I think I played my position (after I figured out what that meant). There were a couple of times that my foot actually made contact with the ball and moved it in the general direction to which it was intended. No one yelled at me for being an idiot or told me to get off the field (hooray!). And best of all? I didn’t sustain any injuries to my creaky 40 year old body. (At least not that I know of yet.)
Our team ended up on the winning side at a score of 3-1. We were wet and cold and sore but it felt good. The feeling of camaraderie was palpable and I’m looking forward to my practice this week (and the promise of beers after our next game). Instead of sitting on the sidelines, it feels good to be doing something for myself even though adding two or three more items is seriously complicating our weekly schedule. Once I am able to regain full use of my legs I think that it will be worth it in the end, showing my kids that I have a life of my own and that we have some commonalities. My kids can probably teach me a thing or three about the beautiful game and I can’t wait.

May 09, 2011

Just Like Riding a Bike

Image  © Eti Swinford |

I have been remiss lately on posting and I do apologize to my faithful readers. What started out as a hectic schedule turned into mental fatigue which was then compounded by some emotional stuff and suddenly I found myself feeling like I had forgotten how to ride a bike. When I was posting somewhat regularly, I found my internal dialogue sounding like a blog post. As with any kind of routine once you fall out of it, it seems hard to get back into the swing. But just like riding a bike, I am jumping back on and pedalling with all my might, hoping that I will remember how to.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. With all of my choices of how to spend my day, I wanted us to go to our local Canadian Tire store and buy some shiny new bikes for the kids. Over the years, my children have endured hand-me-down and second-hand bikes and never complained about the rust and scratches. But this year is different. Now we are at a turning point in our bike-riding lives.
My nearly 8-year old son has asked for a 2-wheel bike. I tried to teach him a couple of years ago and it only took one accident where I lost my balance and grip, let go of his bike seat and he wobbled, skidded and fell hard on the asphalt of our back lane. My bad. Last year, he cautiously tried his hand with his rusty old 2-wheeler in the safe confines of our backyard. I could tell he was ready to stretch his bike-riding wings. My almost-6-year-old twins have clearly outgrown their 12-inch bikes with training wheels. The dead giveaway was their knees hitting the handle bars and watching their long legs pump furiously to get those wee tires in motion.

After a lovely breakfast in bed and a few errands, we hit Canadian Tire. Apparently we weren’t the only parents with this brilliant idea. Perhaps the fact winter ended only 2 days ago might have something to do with this rush to get bikes. Nevertheless, after some quick negotiations (the girls simply cannot have the exact same bike) we found ourselves wheeling three shiny new bikes to the cash register.
When we returned home, the kids literally grabbed their bikes from the van and pleaded to ride them straight away. We have a small dead-end lane behind our house and although it has a small incline and some nasty potholes, we thought it was a good place to start. My son grabbed his bike helmet, hopped on his bike and...rode!
It was unbelievable to watch him riding away from me down the lane, like a baby bird who had learned to fly. I started to get teary-eyed while cheering and applauding like crazy. When he turned around and rode back to me, the look on his face, his cheeks flushed with excitement and his eyes glowing with self-pride made my heart nearly burst. This is what being a parent is all about. Giving your children the foundation and the encouragement to get out in the real world, stretch their wings and soar.

It was the best Mother's Day gift I could have received.
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