Please suppress your gag reflex: this post is about how derby makes me a better mom. BUT, I’m not going to write about how awesome my kids are, or tips about how pack a mean lunch, or any other saccharine drivel about parenthood or cutesy mom shit. I’d like to think I’m better than that. If you can stomach it, read on.
When I first wanted to go out for derby, my mother-in-law’s response was, “But you’re a mother of two.” That’s a non sequitur. It’s like saying, “You can’t do derby, you’re a Gemini and you hate cilantro.” What the hell does that have to do with anything? I have two kids. Does that mean I can’t skate? Am I disqualified?
Sure, I was concerned about how my joining the team might affect my family, mainly
if my husband would feel dumped on because he had to deal with kids alone two nights a week. But it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do something just because I had children. Children are the reason I DO things, not the reason I DON’T do things. They inspire me; they don’t hold me back.
My daughter Elizabeth (nickname: Worm) is 7-years-old – old enough to have fun with but still young enough to not find me embarrassing – and she thinks derby is incredible. She asked for quad skates last Christmas, specifying in her letter to Santa: the skates with FOUR WHEELS. She had me use sidewalk chalk on the street to mark a jammer line so I could teach her how to run off the line on her toe stops. She knows how to give a whip. She comes to dryland on Saturday morning to hang out with the derby girls and wear her pink helmet with the Sin City Skates sticker on it. But what makes me prouder than anything is that she knows I’m a part of a team. She knows I’m committed to the skaters, and that I have to go to practice and not skip out just because I’m tired. She sees me doing push-ups and tries to do them with me.
Our relationship vis á vis derby is symbiotic – I hope through skating I’m being a good role model for her, but she’s also an inspiration for me. My goal during a bout is to score points as a jammer, because I know when I get home I’ll get two questions from her: “Did you win?” and “Did you score a lot of points?” My husband just asks, “Are you hurt?” It’s more important to me that I scored some points.
Elizabeth’s schedule is demanding and I have to accommodate that: piano lessons, gymnastics, school functions, field trips. Our whole family has to juggle around those things, but she makes sacrifices too so that I can fulfill my obligations to the team. Sometimes I’m gone for a few hours on a Sunday night for a committee meeting, or I have to leave town for a day for an away game. She knows it’s not all about her, but it’s not all about me, either. It’s about us, together, and we make it work.
What am I teaching her by doing derby? That I’m part of a team, that I have to exercise and get stronger to stay part of this, that I have something I’m committed to. But she knows, too, that she comes first. And, most importantly, that while all other moms are sitting in their lawn chairs on Saturday afternoon watching their kids play outside, I’m the only one that asks to borrow her skateboard and take it for a spin.