Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Living Social

I have two biological children. I have a stepson and a daughter-in-law; I have a granddaughter. I have nearly countless cousins, nieces and nephews by marriage - and former marriages. As an only child of an only child of an only child on my mother's side, by nearly any one's count this is a lot of kids. 

Sure, I've always loved children; I was even brave enough in my young adulthood to teach 7th and 8th grade (and there is a window seat in Heaven for all Middle School teachers. I reserved mine a long, long time ago). What I didn't anticipate was how many children I would end up "adopting" over my years as a skating mom.

For those of you just starting on this frozen journey, let me share my words of wisdom: Embrace your skater's friends, and (most) of their competitors because what happens as years go by is these "children" become as much yours as they are their parents. The biggest difference is you get the benefits and you don't pay the bills - unless you count shared hotel rooms, chauffeuring and paying for more than occasional meals at competitions. You get to watch these kids grow up; you share in their victories and the agonies of their defeats. You get to give hugs and kisses, peanut butter sandwiches, fruit juice,ice packs, bandages, water and Kleenex. Occasionally, you have to give them the kick in the butt that their moms can't because, after all, they don't listen to their real moms; for some reason they listen to you. You get to acquire a collection lost socks, gloves, music, skates and rolling bags. Most of all, over the years you stay in this sport, you collect memories and acquire more family.

As I was looking at my relatively-small-by-comparison-to-my-kids Facebook Friends list, I realized how many of those little thumbnail snapshots belong to skaters whom I've known since they were seven or eight years old. I have friends who are coaches and judges; several of them I've known since they were skaters, too. We have either kept in touch over the years by catching up at various competitions, or we have recently reconnected through the power of this sometimes frustrating but incredibly encompassing social network. But no matter how we find ourselves connected these days, our network began long before Facebook. It started face to face in an ice rink. Those shared experiences over the years have made us a fraternity of family that is somewhat difficult to define, but for most of us is easy to understand.

Today, I received four text messages on my phone while I was at work. Two were from my biological children; two were from my adopted skating family. All four were unsolicited and random but filled with love; all four were more appreciated than they could ever know.

So, why am I telling you all this? First of all, it's my blog. But more importantly, it's because no matter what we think we've put into this sport of skating, if we open ourselves to the "who" and not the "what" of it, ultimately we get back so much more than we give. I wouldn't trade that for anything. 

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