Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mommy Dangerous

I love the Patagonia catalog.

Not for the clothes, those are nice yes. But for the amazingly dangerous things that people do in between the pages of the stuff to buy. Women scaling mountains in Third world countries, men surfing in ridiculous places. The photography is usually stunning, the stories equally. The last issue featured two women that were skiing in Pakistan to evaluate the effects of global change on the planet.

Secretly I want to be them. Women unafraid to hike, ski and camp in a strange place. To be confident in my own abilities and strengths to know that I could survive in most any weather conditions, most anywhere on the planet. In a sense, to be a female Daniel Boone.

But that desire stops in my head -- I am only a vicarious danger woman. I like the idea of doing things that are really risky like mountain climbing, biking, trekking to beautiful summits. But in practice, not so much. In truth, I am a big fat weenie. The Patagonia catalog and others like it become my fantasy life. I love reading about women and men doing amazing things that are both mentally and physically daunting.

In my perpetual safety belt, helmet wearing, side curtain airbag state, my life is one constant "ranger danger" event. Always on the look out for safety recalls, safer cars, safer toys, the dangers of this, the toxicity of that. When I got married and had a child, risk became something I only read about in parenting magazines.

Recently, I thought maybe I could satisfy my desire by going on a mission trip to a Third World country -- that would be risky and an adventure, combined with doing good works. A safe risk if you will.

I thought about this as I drove by a woman in crutches standing by the side of the road wearing a hospital gown. She obviously was waiting for a ride that had not come. I thought, maybe I should stop -- but then just kept driving on to finish my tasks. About a half hour later, I was coming back by the same spot and remembered the woman. She was still there.

I pulled up and asked if she needed a ride. Her voice cracked as she humbly said no but asked if she could make a call on my cell phone. She was freezing and had no purse, no shoes. I told her I would pull around and she can warm up and make the call. She made her calls and no one answered. She told me she didn't want to ask me to drive her home because it was so far. However, it happened to be the exact same town I live in about a mile from my home. (God is so funny that way!) I ended up taking her to her ride and she was flooded with relief and gratefullness.

I tell you this story not to share how great I am. After I dropped my new friend off, I felt as if I had gone on a mission trip. So often, I like to make things so much bigger and grander than they need to me. It taught me that a mission trip can be found in Cary, NC just as much as it can be found in Costa Rica. People need help everywhere.

I have decided to live more dangerously without going anywhere. But it had to start with opening my eyes to opportunities right in front of me. Every day could be my personal mission trip to help others without Patagonia clothes, scaling mountains or even visiting a Third World country.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mom the Hockey Dork

With kid hockey season in full swing, my Saturday and Sunday mornings now start with an adrenaline rush and the brain tug moment of "what time was practice today?"

The thing I have come to learn about youth hockey is that the time set for practice is always a moving target. A fluid, ethereal spot in my day that may change by rink, by time and even by the night before.

So here I am Saturday morning, sleepy, hair askew and wheeling the biggest bag of equipment ever imagined. A bag so big I could probably pack two seven-year old boys and all their equipment too. Yet my son is proud that he has this big statement of a bag, nevermind I'm dragging it behind him.

It's a gorgeous fall day, a warmish Indian Summer spectacular, and I breathe deeply knowing only too soon we will find ourselves inside the sweatiest, feet-smelling changing room. The locker room, about the size of an airport Starbucks, has 16 kids and mostly dads, all with that same ridiculous monster bag. To say I am overwhelmed -- you betcha.

They all know what they are doing. The moms even know what they are doing -- wielding huge handfuls of tape to their son's gear, smartly lacing up skates and pads and other acoutrements. At age seven, I was working on my Barbie townhome, organizing tea parties and feeding my Baby Alive pretend food. I wasn't putting on Shock Jock sport cups with coordinating Under Armour athletic pants.

So here I am, feeling like the biggest dork among a sea of cool, in-crowd hockey knowers. All this stuff feels completely unnatural to me and if I could talk my son into another sport, I would do it in a heart beat. But I know I am projecting my own insecurities on a boy who doesn't even notice.

As we wait for our turn on the big white sheet of ice, we watch the Junior Hurricanes play. Kids flush in talent and amazingly only ten or eleven years old -- they are stunning to watch. I am humbled by my son's face as he see these "kid heroes" come off the ice. I see him stand taller watching them come by. His face is serious with a look of resolve and pride -- knowing if he works hard enough, he could be just like them.

Hockey is not for the faint at heart -- it is risk, adventure and power rolled up on a frozen oval. I have no idea if my son will continue to love it as much as he does now. He is undertaking something where I have nothing to teach him. But in hockey, we both are learning how to be passionate about the sport together. Yes -- passion is a life lesson that is of beautiful value whether you are seven or 70. Even a dorky mom gets that.