Hockey Mom…

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We are defined by the labels we give ourselves and in 2003, as I sat in Centennial Arena for the very first time on a cold, early, Saturday morning…I became a hockey mom.

I have a handful of games left. Possibly a few more if we do well in playoffs. Even more if we do so well that we make it to Provincials. Less if he ends up hurt or suspended.

Thirteen years after the very first time I sat in that rink…when I had no idea what I was in for…my days are numbered and it chokes at my heart more than I can possibly begin to explain.

I can’t stop thinking of the early years…the passing of time…the grip that hockey has had on every aspect of our lives.

I have the first years on re-play. The early weekend mornings as he’d pull on his gear before we left the house…his Toronto Maple Leafs pyjamas underneath…the wrinkles of the pillow still on his baby face as he’d buckle his helmet while waiting for his skates to be tied. I recall the moments of sitting with the other moms as we’d watch them moving along the ice in a huddle as if the puck had magnetic powers that pulled them tightly in.

There were practices where my son would lay on the ice and make snow angels.

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I remember his first penalty.

The first time I heard (or rather saw) him swear…his lower lip perfectly scratching beneath his upper teeth as his mouth formed the F word when he missed a goal…and my realization that it wasn’t the first time that word had escaped his lips.

I remember coaches through the years…some good, some bad…all having a profound influence on my son.

The tryouts that tore at our hearts. The multiple hours of hitting the “refresh” key on the keyboard as he’d wait for the list to come in. The two mom-talks I’d have prepared in my head…for either scenario. The heart-break of dealing with a broken child who truly believed he’d make the team.

I remember the tournament that brought us to Newfoundland and had him playing the gold medal game against a cousin he barely knew…and the embrace as their teams passed through the lineup to shake hands. The same tournament…that allowed us one final good-bye to my grandmother…who I thought the world of.

I’ve dealt with injuries. The small ones that had me being extra cautious and the big one…where I wanted more than anything to take his pain away as the realization hit him…that his hockey dreams had taken a different road.

I watched him get beaten on the ice…both mentally and physically…including an incident that resulted in three members of the opposite team with lengthy suspensions and my son with a dislocated jaw. I recall the coaches who came to his defence…and the hockey dads who took the time to chat with him…to make sure he was ok.

Including the one who dropped off a bottle of wine to me…to make sure I was ok.

I’ve spent immeasurable numbers of hours at the rink and thousands of dollars on sticks…rolling my eyes as each one broke knowing that I’d be doing without something in order to make sure he had another twig in his hand before the next game.

I’ve been unable to commit to social gatherings before checking the hockey schedule first.

I’ve sewed notes behind his name bar, brought tea to every single game and only threw my cup out after the first period ended because hockey players aren’t the only ones full of superstitions.

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There were many times I complained….whether it was about money, being unable to warm up or lack of time. Moments that I was angry over the hockey gear left in the hall or spread out in my living room to dry. There were times I’ve wondered what the point of it all was. Moment’s when I thought it would be best if he just gave it up. Multiple times I wanted a Saturday night where I wasn’t in a rink…a Christmas that I wasn’t at a tournament…a vacation that didn’t involve gear.

There were times I was exhausted from the ridiculousness of it all.

But only once did he want to quit…and only for a moment.

He’s been eager. Anticipating the next game. The next practice. The next goal and the next win.

He’s wanted more than anything to be the best he could be…he’s tried hard.

He’s learned commitment.

Perseverance.

Failure.

He’s held his head high. He’s led.

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I’ve been to just about every game and multiple practices on this amazing ride and I’ve been so very proud as I’ve watched him grow. What he’s gained from this sport is so much more than I’d have ever been able to teach him on my own. I’ve learned more about him than I’d ever have known without the time he’s spent on the ice.

He made me who I am…a “hockey mom.”

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This next few weeks, I’ll try to keep the tears at bay as it’s coming to an end. For him, hockey will continue. He’ll find a group of players to spend a Friday night at the rink and have a little fun but for me…the days of sitting in the rink and planning my schedule around practices and games are over. The days of picking up my father to grab a cup of tea and sit on our wool blanket in a cold rink…are done. My parenting him through the hockey trials are over. The “vacations” in the various motels and cottages while the parents enjoy one another’s company and the kids play mini-stick and giggle into the night…done.

In a handful of games, I will no longer be a “hockey mom” but in thirteen years of everything this label has given me…I’ve learned this…

I’ve learned that being involved in anything that your child loves…watching them gain new skills, face challenges, grow…it’s the greatest reward of all.

Seeing the smile on that face (even when he’s being escorted to the penalty box), hearing him relay the game in the car, listening to the excitement of an entire hockey team in my house from a sleepover…these are the treasures that being involved has provided. Memories that will last a lifetime for him…and for me. I’ve met wonderful parents from this game who I will dearly miss…some who have been in my life from the time it began and others who’ve come and gone with each new team. I’ve met players…I will never forget.

There’s a part of me who’s grieving the time that’s passed and another who’s scared of what’s ahead. I dread this coming to an end and I’m trying to enjoy these final moments before they’re gone…I’m not sure what will fill the void.

I’ve lived and breathed hockey with this boy…and I’m so very grateful for everything it’s given to him.

Everything it’s given to me.

By being his “hockey mom.”

 

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65 thoughts on “Hockey Mom…

  1. this has me all teared up. I see how much he loves it and I know how much you do too. Great story Colleen. Like we were talking about last week, keeping kids in sport is the best thing ever.

    • Keeping kids active is definitely working for me…even though I’m tired. Sooooo soooo tired! LOL.

      Thank you for your lovely comments…I do adore him.

    • Reading this tonight of all nights has given me hope. I hate politics in sports & this article reminded why we are Hockey Moms & Dads. Thank you for reminding me of why I love being a Hockey Mom 🙂
      I only have 2 more years to follow my son in minor hockey…it will be a sad day for me too. Good luck and enjoy watching your son play as man.

    • I’m not to sure what happened if someone can explain to me that be great!! Other wise great story. I turned my mom into a hockey mom eight years ago and she still gets nervous when I’m on the ice. So if someone can explain what happened that be great.

  2. As ‘Hockey Mom” you gave him your support and encouragement. Those two things will always be with him even if you’re not physically there.

  3. I/we spent probably more than $150,000 on hockey for both kids. Registration, gear, hockey camps, spring hockey, tournaments, auctions, gas, hotels, beer, food, I could go on and on. But I do not regret on penny I paid. The reward was priceless. It’s been a few years and I still miss it. Nice story, I feel your emotions.

    • I was adding it up in my head the other night as well…and I’m with you…I don’t regret the money spent. The rewards are immeasurable.

    • Cindy, I think your son played with mine on spring hockey teams. Raiders, Jr. Mooseheads and probably a couple more. My son played for the Whalers and yours the Halifax Hawks. This Mom has truly put into awesome words the memories all of us Hockey Moms have. Thanks for bringing back the memories.❤️

    • HA! Thanks Richelle. I felt my groove on this one. It took two days to finesse after a draft I wrote in the parking lot at the rink last week before a game. I couldn’t look at it for a few days…and then cried my way through getting it just right. In the end…I wasn’t sure if it was good…if I made my point…if I made any sense at all! I just hit Publish…that’s all I had left in me.

      • You nailed it!!!! As a mom of two boys that played for 12 years and a daughter who is in her 14th and final year in competitive cheer..I can so relate to every word you wrote. Thank you for posting..

  4. You always manage to evoke such emotion in your writing, both your’s and the reader’s! (I can say that because I don’t have kids and reading this I was tearing up!) As always, well done!

    • Thank you Lisa…the ones that make me cry are always the ones people like! Also…the hardest ones to write.

      Appreciate your comments.

  5. No truer words have been spoken. I see Hawks jerseys in the pics I realize we have probably played each other countless times I too am teary at the rink at every game now trying to cherish that one last moment and so proud of the great men they’ve become. Some days I say I can’t wait for it to be over but deep down I know there will be a huge void. Cheers to the future !!

    • Cheers to you as well! It’s going to be strange when it’s done.

      And yes, “we” played with the Hawks up until he started grade 10 and became a West Warrior.

      It’s been one heckuva ride!

  6. I’m reading this and tearing up! My son is sitting beside me and I mentioned I just read this and he noticed the picture ( lastest one) of your son and he says hey mom I know them ..my son is ,Jason Schelleman … Anyway I can relate to the end of the ” rink days” which indeed were many.. Cold… Tiring , but never would I have given it up for anything! Met some very nice kids and parents over the years and will hold so many memories close . Nice article ! Well done !

  7. My child is a second year Atom player…oh the money!! I loved your story and I would not trade the rink and my hockey family for anything in the world. It is now 7:40 am this chilly Sunday Morning. Dad is out warming up the vechile and guess where we are off to..lol!! Love it!!

  8. I think the label “hockey mom” is just so much easier than ” write a lot of checks, lug around a lot of stinky gear, mend a lot of broken hearts and body parts, cheer a lot and sit on cold benches a lot mom” but in the end whether the label is “hockey mom”, “soccer mom”, “baseball mom”, “dance mom” or whatever “_____ mom” we use….. We are all just Moms encouraging our kids to do whatever it is they LOVE

  9. Great story that so many mom’s can relate to. Having two boys and both playing hockey as well as every sport going I felt your desire to have it continue. I was there many years ago. But every now an again we are lucky enough to experience that excitement of watching one of them play. Last year our 27 year old ask us during the Christmas holidays if we’d like to come watch him play in a hockey tournament. We jumped at the chance! Hopefully your day will come soon again.

  10. Thanks for the recap, my life as a hockey mom was very similar, I remember the last game like it was yesterday, it was 16 years ago.

  11. I went through the exact same thing when my son gratuated from high school. He is now almost26 yrs old, I am as proud of him now as I was then, Hockey was a great thing for him!! and his parents..

  12. What a beautiful post! So many life lessons and experiences come from organized sports. It’s so great when a kid has a chance to do something he loves so much for so many years. That’s such a commitment for a parent (and the kiddo, too, of course, but really the parents!).

    You are going to have a lot of time on your hands. Thankfully you will have lots of writing to fill it, because holy this post! *tears*

  13. What a fabulous article.. and I’m quite sure it touches the heart of every hockey mom out there… it sure does to this hockey mom. Thank you for sharing such a special time with your son. I know it’s a label I was, and will always be, proud to wear!

  14. I think you wrote beautifully what so many of us hockey mom’s feel. Thanks so much. Its been a year since my last daughter finished playing organized hockey and after 22 years of being at the rink I too miss it very much. It was a great ride, spending so much time with them, driving all over Ontario gave us a special bond that has given us lasting, amazing memories. Hope your son’s team makes it all the way this year so you get that one more game to enjoy. I, for one look forward to Grandkids, I’ll be back at the rink but won’t have to pay the bills or tie the skates 😉

  15. I loved your article and know my daughter would agree wholeheartedly. As a grandmother I also agree with everything you’ve written but maybe I didn’t experience everything. My grandson graduated high school last year and my husband and I miss watching him play every week. I think hockey teaches these young people so many skills that they can carry through life.

  16. You will always be a Hockey Mom … I know this, because I am. My kids come home at Christmas and lace up with their pals from their minor hockey days. The “moms” still go down and watch, then after he game we all go out for beer 🙂 … The fun only changes —- it never ends!

  17. This brings back so many memories of how I felt as both my boys finished there last year of hockey. It is a very emotional time to think we are done with that. Something you come to love as much as they do, but at times wonder why. I miss the time spent driving to and from the games and all the one on one times we had just the two of us. Wouldn’t trade it for nothing.
    Thanks for sharing

  18. This was beautifully written and has me in tears as well. I have 2 sons that both play. Our oldest will make the move from WHL – Junior hockey in Victoria BC to the AHL in Michigan this next season. Our youngest son graduates from high school and will finish Midget house in just few weeks. Life will change in the Hicketts House soon as well.

  19. LOVE this! And I completely agree with some of the other posts, you will ALWAYS be a Hockeymom:) It never ends. My son is now a Senior in College and has been playing this sport he loves so MUCH for 18 years. It is definitely different now for me, but I still love watching him play the game. Reading your post brought up so many precious memories for me. Thanks so much for sharing.

  20. Oh Colleen, how well you captured it all, you are an amazing writer. I have thought of you this winter, knowing it was ‘your grade 12 year’! We really missed the hockey this year, but I can tell you there is life after hockey- it just takes a bit of time to adjust! Good luck in the playoffs!

  21. As a hockey mom at the same stage with my boy this really hit home . I feel exactly the same with only a handful of games left. I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the ” last game” but I am not sure I can. I love being a hockey mom… His hockey mom and I wouldn’t trade a minute of the last 13 years . I have loved watching him play the game he loves and will definitely miss it all when he’s done.
    Wish I could go back and do it all again 😢 Thanks for sharing !

  22. You made me cry but this is very true. I have two boys playing hockey but my older is now 21 years old. He quit playing when he started working even he tried to play NCHL but it did not last. I have my 15 years old playing and really keeping us busy but I love watching him every single game and we I always tell him “Give me Three” for good luck, Both of them scored on my birthday and really happy that they both worked hard to give me a special present. Being A hockey mom is very special to remember.

  23. I love this article. My sweet boy is 9 and lives and breathes for the ice. I cried from the beauty of what I have experienced and what I have too look forward to. Thank you for your words.

  24. So well said. My 23 yr old son is now away in the Navy. The years he played hockey I will treasure forever. He and I had the time of our lives – we really got to know eachother, laugh together, cry together, complain together, celebrate together, make new friends together, be together. I miss it but do not regret one minute spent in those cold dark rinks, I would go back in a heart beat – enjoy your sons and daughters all you current hockey moms!!

    • It really is a wonderful way to spend time with your child…any activity that they love, that you throw yourself into, is worth it!

  25. Terrific recap of how so many of us ‘hockey moms’ have spent our last ten or more years. My oldest son just graduated college so has been for for 14 years and my younger son graduates high school in May and is wrapping up his hockey career at the end of February (with the tournament championship hopefully!). Wouldn’t change a thing and have loved being involved in such a great sport.

  26. Wow. Definitely brought the tears on 🙂 Don’t laugh when I say that we are only just nearing the end of the first season…and I’m already missing it. Almost one year in and there are tiny little bits of this article that already resonate with me. Beautifully written. And thank you.

  27. I felt every word as if it were my own, beautifully written an all of our boys one day will be doing this very same thing with their sons an know what we were feeling! Money is spent on lasting memories, when you don’t have it its funny how you just get it for hockey! Thank you for sharing

  28. Wonderful article! I’ll share the link with our hockey parents in our next hockey newsletter for the Meadowvale Minor Hockey Association in Mississauga. All the best in your new adventures!

  29. What a beautifully written piece. I am not a hockey mom, I am a volleyball mom. What the sport taught him, the memories, the friendships for him and me, the opportunities he has had because of his love for the game, all so worth it and you captured all those feelings in what you wrote.

  30. Very well written and felt on every level. Being a former “Hockey Mom”, I also can relate and miss those days and weekends. Mine has been out going on four years now. He is a Sergeant in the United States Marines and I believe the hockey family and discipline helped prepare him mentally and physically for his new life as a Marine. For me, I often wonder how I did it all. I truly miss those weekends and families. Thank you for the great read!

  31. Well said! You are not alone. I could detail a million things just like yours and now my hockey mom days are in the past as well. I appreciate your story. Maybe I’ll write my own!

  32. Been there, done that … three times! Yours is a very well written account, girl. You captured all of the good times, which, despite some of the not-so-good times (due to politics, etc.), we wouldn’t have changed those many, many years at arenas: the bonding and memories with the kids; oh, those countless road trips; as well as the life-time friendships that came out of them, for anything. We went through a brief period of time wondering what we were going to do with our time in the winter, but now we get to re-live it all over again with the g-kids! One is playing hockey already and we almost never miss a game, LOL.

  33. I haven´t been able to read the whole story at one time. Took me three reruns to get through. Because I am right there in a few months time. And my eyes tear up til I can´t se your text.
    17 years of beeing there is crazy fast comii´ng to an end. He`s already moved to anther town to play hockey a year ago , and we´re closer than ever- but still I greave. Because I know it won´t be long ´til he don´t need us the same way. `til he forgets to tell us about something insignificant to him , and the world to us. And that´s the way it has to be. I´ts all good. But i´ts scary.
    Thank good I have nr 2 still playing and still wanting to go pro . I still have time. To be complaining, freezing, washing, drinking bad coffee(tea…?) and cheering on for maybe the slowest scater I´ve ever seen , but he´s Mine.
    And you know – we will always be Hockey Mums. Someday maybe even Hockey grandmas <3

  34. I found myself nodding my head in agreement to every word you wrote…my son is now 20 and in college…he played 13 years of minor hockey, Native Provincials a couple of years and even to Europe on summer for a tourney in Prague. and even watched two years of mens hockey where his teammates we all at least 10 yrs older than him..I too will keep those memories in my heart. Have one Grandson playing – a goalie yet – in his first year…he lives in another province so I won’t get to see him this year…but his dad posts videos for me all the time. Thanks

  35. Bang on Colleen,
    Didn’t make it to the end without the tears rolling down my checks
    Then had my son read it
    Thanks for putting it into words, well done!

    • Thanks Aunt Dar…also, you aren’t my Aunt, and I’m not Kim. But…I’m assuming you saw that your niece Kim must have shared this on Facebook with her readers so that’s how you ended up commenting on my post! Also…I’m sure your niece and her son are AWESOME!

  36. Great story, thanks for sharing with us. You articulated so well the voice and heart of a hockey mom. I’ll never give up my title of hockey mom until I am a hockey Nana. 🙂

    I have so many fond memories of the years at the rinks, in the hotels, and on the road to tournaments. Over the years, our son had the good fortune to play with and against players at all levels – house league, high school, prep school, and even some who have gone on to the professional, college, university or junior hockey. Regardless of the level, the love of the game and the skills they have learned are immeasurable.

    You have a wonderful blog and thanks again for sharing.

    Pam

  37. This is one of the best summaries of being a hockey mom. My kids ( son 14 daughter 12) have played since they were 5/3. My daughter starting a travel team at age 6. My son plays JV .. he is an alternate. he goes to practice .. sits on the bench during games, without a jersey because ‘he is part of the team’ he tells me. I think about that the days be numbered for him.. it makes me sad. the friendships he has found, the confidence he has found, the time management he has developed… then there are the friendships I have found, the confidence I have found (to stand up to ‘mean parents’), and the time management I have found.. who knew you could order Chipolte online and pick it up after a practice enroute home.. And it could have been any sport, in all honesty. But I am glad it was this one.

  38. We’re just getting started down the hockey road – my 4 year old is in training classes and will start on a team in the fall. Your article made me apprehensive and nervous over what’s about to come, but also made me burst with excitement over the memories that are about to be created. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to the label “hockey mom” now, and will wear it with pride 🙂

  39. Very well written. This is our first season out of hockey with our youngest son and it is hard as his older two brothers played too, so we have been in it for 20 years. I understand the pain of watching your child not get picked up for a team they really wanted and the tears you shed when they are injured. It takes a lot to be a parent who devotes their time, efforts and money into a sport for their child. You sometimes do without and all holidays are at a rink somewhere.
    This year I did not know what to do at Thanksgiving but we actually got to have a sit down family meal without having to run out or run in. (We are normally the host team so we work most of Thanksgiving weekend) . Christmas will be another strange event for us. No traveling out! 😜