How the parents in the stands helped me confront my hockey hesitation

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It wasn’t mean to be this way. Not in my family, not with my child. It wasn’t mean to be all about hockey.

My child was going to cross-country ski, and he was going to love it. My child was going to speed-skate, and he was going to love it. My child was going to hop out of bed on Saturday mornings raring to get on his bike and go for a 100-kilometre ride.

That was my child. That was, at least, the child of my imaginings.

But that’s not the real child, the flesh-and-blood nine-year-old boy who has his own opinions, about most things, if the truth be told, but definitely about sports.

That child?

That child likes to ski, but only if there’s hot-chocolate afterwards, that child  likes to ride, but only to the beach, and that child, yes, that child likes to skate, but only if he’s got a stick in his hand and a helmet strapped firmly to his head.

That child turned me into a hockey mom, a hesitant hockey mom, but a hockey mom nonetheless.

Sound familiar?

If you’re a hesitant hockey mom, too, you need to know that you’re not alone. Not remotely.

What I discovered once I reluctantly joined the hockey mom ranks, is that there are lots of hesitant hockey moms out there. Some are hesitant because of the fighting in hockey, some are hesitant because they’ve heard terrible stories about hockey parents and how they act, some are hesitant because of the cost or the number of activities their children are already in, or because they didn’t grow up playing or watching the game.

And some are like me, hesitant because they’d rather their kids did things the whole family could do together.

I wanted to be like the family of Canadian freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau. I remember during the Vancouver Olympics, after he’d won moguls gold, listening to him talk about how he gave up hockey — a sport he loved — to take up a sport everyone in his family could do, including his older brother, Frédéric, who had cerebral palsy and couldn’t skate.

What selflessness! And what a gift to the whole family!

That’s how I imagined it.

But a funny thing happened once I’d signed the boy up and bought all the equipment and lugged myself to the rink a few times. All the parents who started out sitting apart from each other started to talk, and they started to sit together, and talk about the play and talk about their lives, and become friends even.

It got so that I looked forward to going to the rink where we’d all cheer like crazy when one of the Lightning Bolts had the puck, where people didn’t get annoyed when I asked for probably the 100th time, “What just happened?” and where my child was really happy. It looked really fun, too.

Check out how fun it looks in this video of novice players!

These parents weren’t crazy, either, they didn’t love fighting in hockey — at least not when it involved nine-year-olds — and they all somehow managed to balance the activities their kids were in and the rest of their lives.

It was such a great season that I felt — bereft is too strong a word — but sad, definitely, when the season came to an end. It felt like something was missing that first weekend without hockey. Something fun, and something that even felt like it was a family affair.

And I’m back in the rink again this year, cheering and asking questions — “Was that offside?” — and getting to know another great group of parents.

What about you? Are you a hesitant hockey mom or do you embrace the rink? How did you learn to love being a hockey mom?

Join the conversation by leaving your comment.

Facebook: I was the poster child for parents who didn’t want their child to play hockey. I had my own reason but there are lots of others. Are you a hesitant hockey mom? What are your reasons? Read my blog to find out how I learned to embrace the game and join the conversation in the comments.  #hesitanthockeymom

Twitter: Not every Canadian mom wants her son to play hockey. Find out what changed the mind of this #hesitanthockeymom. http://wp.me/p3QRy0-bTT

Photo: Pixabay

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3 thoughts on “How the parents in the stands helped me confront my hockey hesitation

  1. As someone who played hockey for 13 years, I can totally empathize from where you sit in the stands! I would totally be hesitant too! But the nice thing about hockey is that its a community based sport and it brings people together. So you get support in different ways!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post because it gave me a different perspective on what people in the stands could be feeling in regards to the players they’re there for!

    • It’s great that you played hockey for so many years. I love that many, many girls are playing, my 11-year-old niece and one of the moms I sit with in the stand included. I always had a hard time understanding it — but I think I might have made progress today when I had a moment of imagining being on the ice! And I think it is that community of great people who are all there for different reasons that brought me there.

      Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate hearing from you.

  2. I have to say, I have always been grateful that I had 2 girls who had no desire to play hockey. I couldn’t fathom sitting in the arena every weekend being cold and watching a sport I have no interest in. Having said that, I now feel like I’ve been missing out on something!! It sounds like such a great community and a fantastic way to meet new friends with something in common. Love the post!!

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