Back to school means back to hockey if you are a hockey mom. Everything comes at once! Some moms welcome this, but I always found it a little sad, or at least the anticipation of it a little sad. Once it was upon me, I was way too busy to feel anything.
One particular back-to-school and back-to-hockey week stands out in my mind. All three boys were in the midst of tryouts, as was their father, who was coaching each of them in some capacity. The girls were full-bore into the social relationships that the start of a new school year brings, and I was trying yet again to turn over a new leaf and be organized this time around.
We were in the midst of the morning rush, which meant getting five kids to the bus on time, with backpacks and lunches in tow. My husband, retired NHL hockey player Ryan Walter, helped me pack lunches in the kitchen while the kids ate breakfast. Ryan is fast on his feet and quick with his hands ... he had 10 slices of bread laid out and was slapping mustard and mayo around like nobody's business. I was rounding out the lunches with fruit, snacks and beverages. This year I had decided to forego juice boxes that were never big enough for our growing hockey players, and replace them with the cans of iced tea I had chilling in the fridge. I was so organized!
We had officially ended summer on Labor Day weekend by hosting a barbecue for Ryan's employees and their families. The weather had been great, kids swam and played ball hockey, we provided the food, and the guests brought their own beverages. It was our last hurrah before the school and hockey schedules would rule our lives for the next nine months.
The kids and their lunches made it on the bus, and I hurried off to a creative planning team meeting at our church. When I arrived home, Ryan told me he had received a call from the principal. That is never a good thing during the first week of school, but Ryan had a smile on his face, so I wasn't too worried. That was not about to last, however.
It seemed that our elementary school's principal, Henry, had called to asked Ryan who had packed the lunches that morning. Ryan answered that we both did. Then Henry proceeded to say that our youngest son, Joey, had taken a big swig from his drink in his grade six class, spat it out and said, "This tastes terrible!" What I thought had been a can of iced tea, sitting sideways in our refrigerator door, evidently was instead a leftover beverage from the weekend barbecue. It turns out that I had sent our son to Langley Christian School with a Coors Light in his lunch!
I decided right then and there that no way could I ever show my face at that school again. I was devastated. I was the worst mother ever, hockey or not. While I had been at a meeting with our worship pastor, who just so happens to be our principal's son, the principal and every teacher at our school had been laughing hysterically in the staff room. I somehow failed to see the humor.
Time does heal, though. I lifted my head and went to that first chapel at the school, and lived to tell the tale. I made it through tryouts. The kids had fun seasons. Now here I am telling you about one of the most humiliating moments of my life. Being a hockey mom is so not about being perfect, and I am stunning evidence of that fact. So, please don't feel overwhelmed by back to school or back to hockey or back to dance or back to work. Do your best, and forgive yourself if you mess up, because let's face it, no way will you ever mess up as badly as I did! The important thing is to have your heart in the right place and to refuse to miss out on any part of your children's lives, even when it is difficult or embarrassing, because, trust me, one day you will laugh about it.
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