The end of hockey

The end of hockey

I warned you that this year was going to be emotional for me.

My baby is graduating high school. Last week, I shared my feelings of having an empty nest, and my denial of the situation was quite transparent. And here we are, I am going to share another milestone of my baby getting ready to spread his wings…so dim the lights, ask Alexa or Siri to play “Sunrise, Sunset,” and read on. Also, perhaps visualize this in black and white or sepia tone as I go into flashback mode.

Son #1 weighs about 50 pounds and he is wearing goalie equipment that weighs more than he does (flashback). Son #1 is the goalie for Yeshivas Noyam when they defeat an undefeated Moriah school (flashback). Son #2 is playing hockey at TABC and he gets smashed into the exit door and lies motionless on the floor, but soon recovers (flashback). Son #2 has an undefeated hockey season and wins the championship his senior year at TABC (and three championships before that). His mom makes three wonderful hockey mom friends who she actually still likes, speaks to and sees (flashback, except for the friend part, that part is still true).

Son #3 makes the Yeshivas Noyam hockey team (flashback). Son #3 wins the first ever Yeshivas Noyam hockey championship when he is in eighth grade and actually plays in the game (flashback). Son #3 makes the TABC hockey team when he is a freshman (flashback). Son #3 is the coach’s favorite benchwarmer his junior year (flashback). Son #3 becomes an excellent penalty killer his senior year (flashback). Son #3 and his wonderful teammates lose to DRS in the semi-finals, but no one scores when son #3 is defending the goal (flashback).

What does all of this mean to you? Probably nothing, but to me? It is the end of my time as a hockey mom. After going to hundreds and hundreds of games — three boys times three seasons in elementary school, three boys times 11 seasons in high school (one son didn’t make the team one year, but we don’t talk about that because I really like the coach’s wife so I totally let it go, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask the coach and he will verify). My first trip to Modell’s to buy a “cup” and the salesman asking me how big my son is and me not realizing he was referring to his height. (I am a girl, I have never had to wear a cup, what did I know?) My trip to every sporting goods store in Bergen County trying to find a lefty goalie stick (yes, there is a difference.) The carpooling of all three goalies for the year we refer to as “the year my van smelled so bad that we had to leave the windows open all of the time.” The year of carpooling when a mom left me out of the carpool and someone took pity on me and joined my carpool of one. The drives to Long Island in rush hour, the drives to Hillel in Deal on Sunday mornings (only three or four of those, but still it is far, far away). The sweet joy of victory, the agony of defeat. The tears (usually mine), the laughter (usually at me and my tears). The practices, the practices that came with davening, the practices that brought home smelly and cranky boys.

Being a hockey mom has been a huge part of my life. Huge. Each of my boys reacted differently to winning and losing — some didn’t care and some, well, let’s just say that it really is better to win than to lose. Watching them grow from little boys who didn’t need to wear deodorant, to men who needed lots of deodorant and several showers — especially the goalie — man did his hands stink after wearing those gloves!

And last week, it all came to an end.

All of it. I turned around, I blinked, and it was all over. My baby was done with hockey, which meant I was done with hockey, which meant I was even closer to the end of my having my baby at home.

So to all of you hockey moms at the beginning of your careers, even if your boys are the ones wearing the knee pads the wrong way AND on the outside of their sweat pants…treasure every single minute. Before you know it, the fat lady is singing, and it’s over.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck really needs to get a grip. Perhaps next week.

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