A few weeks ago I posted this on Facebook:

“I can’t help but think how much I would have loved to have an experience like {my son} is having up north…only my experience wouldn’t have been hockey…maybe foreign exchange or something like that…I’m so jealous. But knowing he’s loving it so much makes up for that….like 10 times over ♥ “

A couple of weeks prior to this he moved away from home, at 16 ½, to chase the hockey dream.  We come from a town that is by no means a hockey-town.  Right smack dab in the center of sunny California, hot six months out of the year, and nowhere near a frozen pond.  Honestly, staying in that little county town could easily have been the end of the line for him.  Youth hockey only goes as far as under 18.  His current youth hockey program could not even fill a team at this level and barely the level below.  We did have hopes he would possibly be able to play for a level above the youth league in town but that was a stretch, he still has a lot of growing to do. Choices were limited.  Unfortunately.

I can barely remember exactly how it was he got the hockey bug because my world has revolved around a little black piece of rubber for well over ten years and so much of the cold mornings, long car trips, hockey parent “issues”, and smelly hockey socks all seem to swirl together into a blur of memories played to a soundtrack of “Ice Ice Baby”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, and “We Are the Champions”.  It’s been wonderful.

So when he was given, and I mean given, an opportunity to play at the second highest level in youth hockey (U18AA) in a little town across Pugent Sound from Seattle, Washington, he jumped at the chance. And as a mom…the first thing jumping was my stomach!  Move away? We’d known a handful of other players to do this…yay for them…but, they weren’t MINE. MINE was my first born, the little guy who fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a mommy. I remember a moment when he was about two weeks old…it was the middle of the night and freezing.  I was snuggled up with him in our big green recliner and had just finished nursing him for, like, the 17th time of the day.  As we rocked I looked down at his tiny-ness.  His fuzzy blonde head.  His funky little nose….I wanted that moment to last forever.

Then a thought ran through my head.  I pictured him as toddler walking around the corner of the hall into the living room towards me.  He was bigger…I didn’t want him to get bigger.  I cried as I realized that he wouldn’t stay small and dependant forever.  Crazy from the hormones of pregnancy and becoming a mom, I think I sobbed for a good five minutes before pulling myself together.  Finally, I snapped out of it, looked around the cold, dark living room, then down at my baby.  That’s when I knew I would one day have to realize he was a big boy and would have a will and a mind of his own.  He would still need me to teach him, but there would be a time where he would want and need to be independent.

He would grow up.

That moment was over sixteen years ago, but feels like it happened just this morning.  The time flew.  And now I believe its time he does too….

My oldest boy has always been a little more sovereign than other kids.  He has a confidence in him from the moment he could speak.  Always a self motivator, self regulated, and a leader.  This is the kid who taught me how to play chess when he was just a kindergartener. He has qualities that most parents only dream of for their child.  Now, as he goes out there, to that great big world, I hope he continues on this path…keeps his principles, his confidence, and his leadership ability.  I hope that he seeks challenges…takes risks.


Now, I know, he knows, that he’s not 100% free and clear.  He still had another year and a half legally until he’s “officially” grown up.  I know this.  As he begins this next phase of his life, he is still growing up.  It will change him.  It will be an adventure. I hope he owns it.  Appreciates it.  Loves it.

He’s my first baby.  He turned me into a mom. Only he did that, you know?  As difficult and horrible as it has been for us this last year, I know this… I love him with every cell in my body.  I hope he never doubts that.  If he does, I told him to call me and I promised I would remind him…over and over.

A couple of years ago, and I think I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog, this boy did something that will forever be one of my most treasured moments in motherhood.  I was watching one of his hockey games in the 39 degree ice rink we practically made home.  He managed to get pinned up against the boards right in front of me, face squished against the glass, steaming it up.  We made eye contact for a split second before the pressure was released and he could pull back.  Before he skated away, he managed to remove a glove and use his finger to draw a heart in the foggy glass. Right there in that painfully artic hockey rink my heart melted.

And so, as he matures and pulls away, I’m so proud of him. I know keeping him little wouldn’t allow me to watch him develop into this wonderful person he’s becoming.

Before he left for what will probably be one of the best experiences he will have in his life, I told him to be careful.  Watch his language. Wear sunscreen…and a coat. And warm socks…Washington gets a heck of a lot colder than the ice rink in Fresno.

Good bye to an era of skinned knees, chasing butterflies in the yard, collecting worms after the rain, and walking around wearing a backpack as a parachute…just in case he needed to bail at any given moment.  Now’s the time for decision making, wise choices, hard choices, and development of character.  A time, as I suppose it also was when he was spending hours out in the sunshine pursuing butterflies, to find himself.

In hockey the term “breakaway” is when a player has possession of the puck and there are no defenders, other than the goalie, between him and the opposing goal. I hope #47 lives his life this way.  That he lets nothing ever come between himself and the goal…not even the goalie.

Game on.


3 responses »

  1. And The reward for having such wonderful children is GRANDchildren!! It only gets better from here. HOORAY for you Janelle. You ARE one of the best moms ever!!

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