i am your willow
and i will keep you safe.
i will bend.
i will adjust.
i will surrender:
to the process
to the storm
i will flex to the best of my abilities
and i will not break.
i will wrap myself around you, and
weep with you
joy and grief.
no matter how
challenging fucking impossible life gets.
and i will keep you safe,
for i am your willow.
Tattoo artist: Tedd Hucks
I was sitting at the table tonight, coordinating upcoming hockey games, goalie clinics, tournaments and training when it dawned on me… I am officially a hockey mom! (*wince!)
Here is a flashback to something I wrote last year that was previously published here: http://bunchfamily.ca/reluctant-hockey-mom/
Last year my son Rain said the unthinkable. “Mom, I want to play hockey.” I tried bribing him with drum lessons instead.
I’ve heard horror stories of minor league hockey taking over people’s lives. Winter weekends suddenly spent watching their breath in freezing arenas rather than curled in front of a fireplace. Family vacations morphed into tournaments. Family dinners scheduled around game times and consisting of nothing more than hotdogs and takeout. Determined to stop this from happening, I started looking for a low-key hockey league — preferably one ice-time per week at a convenient, consistent time. This does not exist. It’s either a full-on school year of erratically scheduled practices, games and tournaments or nothing.
When I called the local league to get the dreaded details, the woman on the phone tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry. You’ll love hockey! Before you know it, the hockey team will become your whole life. You’ll do everything together and they will soon be your new best friends.”
I like my life. I like my friends.
The registration deadline was fast approaching and my son was patiently awaiting the referee’s decision. I decided to let him try it for a year. Of course, I secretly hoped he would hate it.
He didn’t hate it. And then he was elected team goalie and he liked it even more. Being a goalie meant more expensive equipment, more practices and the necessity of being at every game. (People tend to notice an empty net.) But his enthusiasm was obvious and hey, being a goalie is almost the same as being a drummer.
After the first couple of practices I discovered I was horrible at sitting still. I started power walking the neighbourhoods during practices and I took up knitting during the games. I knit lopsided scarves while keeping one eye on the game. I never quite knew why the whistle was being blown, but I always held my breath when the other teams took shots on my son.
His sister Moxie was just as natural in her newfound designation of rink-rat. She learned her way around every arena in the city. We passed the time trying to solve the mystery of why Rink One smells like 100-year-old sweat but Rink Two just smells like plain air. We drew hearts in the phone books by our address and she would often search for them. Does anyone use phone books anymore?
The season ended with our team making a giant comeback from last to second place. Rain won a trophy and I was incredibly proud of his dedication. I was also incredibly happy to switch to watching him play soccer in the sunshine.
This September another hockey season began. It was at least familiar territory. I felt prepared and knew I could manage it just as well as Dave Nonis (okay, I Googled that).
But suddenly I was crosschecked with the announcement of Saturday morning 6:30 a.m. practices. What? The only reason anyone should ever wake up at 5:15 a.m. in the morning on a Saturday is to catch a flight, preferably to somewhere warm.
And so Rain, Moxie and I now play the ‘Where do you wish you were flying to?’ game on our way to the practice Saturday mornings. The kids choose China almost without fail. I choose scuba diving trips in Bali and the Italian countryside.
We have made a family tradition of going for breakfast after practice. This helps numb the pain, since coffee can solve almost anything. I still grumbled about the unthinkable early mornings until I had a moment of realization: “I wouldn’t be as bothered about driving him to rock band practice on Saturday mornings.” I hung my head sheepishly at my own selfishness.
My colleague overheard and smiled in reassurance, “Rock bands would never practice at 6:30 in the morning.”
And so through wins, losses, hotdogs and a lot of coffee, hockey is here to stay — and I’m trying to be a good sport. But just when I think might deserve a Hockey Mom coffee mug, I spend an hour at Rain’s goalie clinic cheering on the wrong goalie. I wasn’t even close.
- My dad will drive from Grimsby to Mississauga and pick up me and the kids. (Thanks Dad!)
- We will drop off kids in Grimsby with my mom. (Thanks Mom!)
- My dad and I will continue to Buffalo Airport and get rental car (this should be approx 1 hour each way).
- Back to pick up kids and head home.
- We forget until too late that this is a long weekend which = border crossing Hell.
- As a result we wait at border for 2 hours, not counting actual travel time.
- Pick up Ford Escape (nice ride!)
- Can not connect my iPhone/music….!?! mild panic immerges… that’s okay Erica keep calm, we will sort it out when we get to Grimsby until then I will find a good station on Sirius Radio.
- I try to close the trunk and can’t reach it… hmm… (yes, okay I know I’m vertically challenged but I think something’s wrong.. again we’ll sort that out in Grimsby)
- My Dad and I share directions which seem quite simple to get back to the Peace Bridge and we take off separately.
- I pretty much immediately get lost.
- Since we are in the US and I don’t have a data plan I resist all temptation to turn on my map app. Surely I can figure this out the old fashioned way. I had grabbed a tear off map from a car rental place so I pull over to take a look. Apparently it helps to really know where you are if you want to use a paper map. But from what I can tell I am definitely going the wrong way but I do have a couple options so I head back on the highway and take a chance.
- I end up at a toll booth that I am certain we didn’t pass on the way to the airport.
- I ask the toll-dude,
“Am I going the right way to the Peace Bridge?”
“No, you are not.”
“Where are trying to go?”
“Where about in Canada?”
“Anywhere in Canada would be fine.”
“Go straight ahead and take exit 25 to the Rainbow Bridge.”
“Awesome – thanks!”
- exit 23…exit 24… exit 25A.. Exit25B…Exit to Canada … WTF? How did “take Exit 25” become so complicated?
- According the sign I have 3 miles to decide what to do .. Canada seems like the logical decision but the last time I went against the specific directions and trusted my gut instinct I ended up.. well .. here. So maybe I should take exit 25.. but A or B..? And how long is 3 miles in kilometers? Oh. THAT was 3 miles. crap. wrong exit.
- Thankfully I find the Border within minutes – whew! and even better there are only 3 cars ahead of me – Oh Happy Day!
- Border Guard, “How long were you in the United States?”
“Just long enough to pick up this rental car.” I have nothing to hide.
“A rental? You do know you have to pay tax on it if you want to bring it into Canada, right?”
“Why did you rent it from Buffalo if you are driving through Canada?”
“Because it was cheaper.”
“And that’s why you are taxed for it in Canada.”
“Oh. Well that sucks. But I don’t really have a choice now so I guess I’ll pay the tax.”
“You do have a choice; you could return the car.”
“But then how would I get home?”
“I see your dilemma.”
- So I go to the inspection centre and pay my tax. Thankfully it still ends up being much cheaper to have rented from the USA and frankly I’m still much more concerned about still not having access to my music (and I can’t find a decent channel on Sirius Radio to save my life – where is the CBC R3 station???)
- In no time at all, I’m back in Grimsby. Despite my challenges I’m only slightly behind my Dad. He is much more upset about the tax than I am; all I want is to figure out how to play my music!! I have over 50 hours of driving ahead of me – music will help keep me sane. (okay okay… I said ‘help’ keep me sane)
- My dad has also realized that the reason I can’t reach the trunk of the Escape is because the handle is broken.. the good news is he thinks I should have enough space for a step stool. As a back-up he ties on a rope as a makeshift way for me to close it.
- Then me, my Dad and his helpful neighbour try to get the Bluetooth to work. It works and then it doesn’t. But then it works again. Hooray! By then my mom is cooking dinner for her unexpected guests (we are totally overstaying our welcome by now – sorry mom and dad!!). I take the car for a spin to the grocery store to pick up some last minute items for the trip. After some fiddling I somehow get the music to play on the way there but on the way home I can not make it play. And in my frustration I get lost on my way back to my parents.
- I roll into their driveway on my last nerve. I’m cool with getting lost, I’m cool with unexpected taxes, I’m cool with trunks that I’m too short to close but for the love of God – do NOT fuck with my music!!!!!!!! (insert hissy fit)
- My dad sends me in the house so he can try to figure it out in peace. (read: GO TO YOUR ROOM UNTIL YOU CAN MANAGE!)
- After my time-out I go back to the car and we somehow figure it out together. It’s not a perfect solution and my dad insists that there must be a better way to make it work but I beg him to stop fiddling. I can play my music. That’s all I care about. (my breathing starts to return to normal.)
The Lesson Learned:
- Planning is over-rated but maps can be helpful.
- I get lost. A lot.
- It’s okay because I seem to be able to find my way out.
- Everything will be okay as long as there is good music.
Are we there yet????
Introducing the members, in accordance to birth order:
Moxie, 7 years 11 months
Moxie is a free thinker. She’s creative, dramatic, independent and sweet.
And she very well may save the world one day.
Rain, 10 years 4 months
Rain is a problem solver. He’s athletic, thoughtful, artistic, and analytical.
And he very well may discover a new breed of reptiles one day.
Erica (me), 38 years 1 month
I love Canadian Indie music, adventures (obviously) and writing. I have a day job at a children’s treatment centre. I could talk about my job for hours. But I won’t. Confidentiality is one of the few things I take seriously in life. I like to laugh and think I’m hilarious.
It’s just the three of us (unless you count Lucy, our crazy cat). And we are tight. Their father and I separated just over 5 years ago. I have had primary custody but the kids continued to see him on a very regular basis. Last month, their father took his life. The initial shock is starting to wear off. We are sorting this out in our minds and hearts. This is an unexpected journey for us but it is one of healing and love. We will help each other through this.
Why Team Adventurers?
Because we are not just a family; we’re a team. We help each other succeed. We make each other laugh. We work hard together.
We came up the team name last summer on a bike ride. We are curious about the world and have adventures every day. Most of them occur within 30 km of our home.
This summer our wanderlust will lead us to the beautiful West coast. It will look a little bit like this:
June 28th – pick up rental car in Buffalo and bring back to our home in Mississauga, ON.
June 29th – Start driving West.
**A bunch of really cool stuff and lots of driving.
July 19th – Fly from Seattle – Buffalo
At some point before June 29th I will take a good look at a map or guidebook. But for now I’ve at least created some kick-ass playlists. Check them out here: https://teamadventurers.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/patriotic-playlists/
Initially I started this website to write exclusively about our upcoming roadtrip. But our every day adventures need their voice heard too. I write as a way to commemorate our experiences and share them with friends, family and fellow adventure enthusiasts.
Peace, love and rock ‘n roll,