We drop the gloves...and pick up some beverages.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Nocturnal Emission

There is no "baseball mom" or "football mom". I pretty sure those terms don't exist. The term soccer mom describes some lady in a minivan who schleps around screaming kids and passes out orange wedges. And there a big difference between a soccer mom and a MILF (one being about 30-35 lbs.); the expression isn't flattering. Hockey mom, however, is not only a term of endearment, it's a compliment. It signifies a woman of inherent toughness and values. I'm pretty sure hockey mom is also a rank in the Canadian military a few notches below staff sergeant.

Women who raise hockey players are a different breed of mother. It's like the Spartan women in 300. You can bet that town had an unbelievable midget squad. Sacrifice is one common quality in all hockey mothers. They work constantly yet have no problem bundling up to drive to the rink at ungodly hours. Their hands are tough enough to get your skates really tight when you are a mite and gentle enough to comfort you when your father rips your apart. It's no wonder that their children grow up to play with blown knees and missing teeth. Strength and love are instilled in young hockey players by amazing women, woman who are tougher than you'll ever be.

I owe my mother so much. I don't have the space or the writing gift to do her justice and this isn't the forum to do so. Clearly I'd rather not pay tribute to her in a weekly post titled the "Nocturnal Emission". She doesn't even read this blog. She only watches our videos when Bress emails them to her. And while I'm pretty sure my mother would never describe herself as a hockey mom she fits the bill. There was the time when I was 5 that she pulled me off the ice because some kid was bullying me. She told me that I was either going to have to go back out and fight the kid or she was going to kick my ass. Heals heard this story from my mother and even knows the kid who I reluctantly beat up that day. She didn't flinch at broken noses or torn shoulders. I can hear her telling me that "little boys who whine go to their room". I remember the time she tearfully told me to kick some ass on senior night during the corny flower presentation. That same year when we struggled early on she was a great friend who would listen to me vent about some of the frustrations with an underachieving team. When I got too whiny she would slap me back into reality. She was a great teammate and a coach. She, like most hockey moms, is the perfect mix of tough love and tougher love.

Is a strong woman really what's behind a powerful man? Ask Dustin Byfuglien whose mom supported him by working as a forklift driver at the Polaris snowmobile plant. Ask Phil and Tony Esposito whose mother used to strap on goalie pads and let her boys shoot on her in the backyard. I loved it when players used pink sticks a few years ago during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Mike Comrie wrote his mother's initials on his stick as tribute to her memory and battle with cancer. Don Cherry (who will join ESPN for the Conf. Finals) called hockey moms the greatest people in the world.

"I played in the American Hockey League where the guys are the toughest guys in
the world, grizzled old guys, and they call for their mothers (when they're
injured) and you should hear them say, 'mom, mom.' It's really something with
the mothers."
How about Holly Golightly who was trekking around the country with her poet/athlete son? The examples of hockey players thanking their mothers for their sacrifice are countless. And while I'm sure there are great parents who do this for little league and Pop Warner teams, they aren't of the same ilk as hockey moms.

Every loving mother deserves at least a day of recognition. Hockey mothers deserve a little more. After all, if that lady had taken you to soccer camp all these years you'd probably be a pussy and wouldn't know anything about true teamwork. But you aren't . You are a stand-up person whose sense of hard work and sacrifice were only reinforced by coaches but taught by loving mothers that dragged your ass to the rinks. This is your Friday morning warning: Go out and get some flowers if you haven't thought of it already.

Have a great weekend and however you see fit please make sure to thank the lady that made you and made you into a hockey player.



heals said...

My mom's birthday is May 12, so I have double duty every year. And you are badly mistake if you think one card can cover both holidays. A note about my mom: the very first time I took skating lessons when I was 7 years old, I took one lap around the ice holding onto the boards and I wanted to get off because my feet hurt. As soon my foot took a step off the ice, my mom was there to meet me - and it wasn't to offer consolation. She grabbed me by my face mask and shook me furiously yelling at me to "get back out there, because I paid $80 for this and I could still be in bed right now. And stop crying!"

Lord knows, I went back out there. If my mom had been easy on me - if she'd been a "baseball" mom or a "soccer" mom - I'm not sure I would have kept playing. But she had the instinct. She was a hockey mom.

Sending your son out to fight another 8 year old or shaking the shit out your son in the lobby of the rink is almost a rite of passage for these mom's to enter into an elite club.

Happy Mother's Day to all hockey moms - I am both grateful and scared of you at the same time.

And as for Nemmy's story about being sent out to fight that bully, I have only this to say: Larry Barcello, if you're reading this, sleep with one eye open.

brando said...

great post.

it was always a special occasion when you were sitting on the bench in between shifts noticing our fathers separating our mothers from fighting the other teams' mothers.

hockey mothers are a different breed. standing in a "wall-less" rink in buffalo watching your son learn to skate in january at 6:30AM numbs the fingers and limbs but strengthens the heart and soul.

Snemmy said...

What a nice post!

Your mother would be very proud. Particularly because you didn't say "balls" in it.

Hockey moms are truly special people. Hockey Dads are kinda awesome too, but we can wait until June to talk about them.

When do hockey sisters get some recognition? I went to every one of your stupid games. Yeah I liked the egg and cheese sandwiches at the snackbar, but I kinda like you a little bit more. I digress.

I'll never forget your very first Prep game. We watched a mother in a full length mink coat, wearing so much ice she could teach Rick Ross a thing or two about hustlin' and she screamed a very low gutteral "ICINGGGGGGGGGGGGG!" Our father was truly scared of her, it was great!

Mom is wonderful and she's STILL up at ungodly hours watching our cousins play hockey (and soccer, and baseball...).

Here's to you hockey Moms!

heals said...

that lady in the mink coat was one Mrs. Signore. My goodness did we enjoy when pre-game meal was at her house. The pasta was so-so, but the view was great.

Anonymous said...

the only thing better than a glass of beer is tea with Mrs. McGill...

Anonymous said...

I got caught out a few times when Mrs. Signore was reaching under sink for the trash can.

Anonymous said...

Larry Barcello, huh? I still have his copy of Gyromite for Nintendo.

lisa said...

I don't think Hockey Moms mean to be so hard, it's just such a rough sport, really not for a wimpy kind of person. You have to kick ass to play well, and no one wants to play badly. I'm so proud of my son, always was, always will be. It's amazing what a strong, beautiful heart he has despite his "walk it off" mother.

Anonymous said...

Thats fucked up man...Larry Barcello died last February.

Anonymous said...

Larry Barcello died? When? How?