Tuesday, May 10, 2011

That Mushy Gushy Stuff in Honor of Mothers

Two weeks ago, I got into a killer cat fight, a la Mob Wives (an ambulance was sure to come), and I tweaked my neck. Ok I didn't really get into a cat fight, but it sounds a lot cooler than saying that I was blow drying my hair, flipped my head up and my neck seized. So let's just stick with the cat fight.

I tweaked it so badly that I missed a night of derby; I spent most of the weekend turning my entire torso just to look to the side, at which point I decided that the best plan of action was to just stay in bed, watching a lot of brainless television, and I had a lot to think about.

And seeing as how I'm still laid up in bed (until my first ever chiropractor visit tomorrow, which I swear is giving me panic attacks about having my neck accidentally snapped in half) I've been thinking about a lot. A lot about mothers, friendships, roller derby, kids, Arby's mozzarella sticks...just to name a few.

I've been thinking about the past year of my life, where I was then and where I am now. Who I've tried to become and the things that I've tried to change about myself. A year ago, I felt like a shell of my former self. I had no idea who I was or how I'd let myself get so...empty. I was lonely, I cried to my sister every day, I had no direction, felt like I had no purpose. I was miserable.

When Gina suggested trying roller derby, I had a piss-poor attitude about it. The first few weeks, I couldn't do anything right, I really only talked to Gina, I hid from the coaches, hoping that they wouldn't notice that I wasn't doing anything right, I made stupid jokes to the other girls, hoping they wouldn't notice that I wasn't doing anything right, and I pretty much kept to myself. My equipment was from D.I., my skates were from Big Five, I didn't have the cute derby clothes or tights. I felt totally ghetto, totally out of my element, and totally lame. I felt like I just didn't fit in.

I cried to my sister every Friday morning about how horrible I'd done at derby the night before. About how I felt like I was failing at life because I was failing at skating. How nobody there liked me and I got picked last for kickball, and how I just wanted to quit. I'm not kidding, I think I actually whined, "aaaaaaaaand I got picked last for KICK ball!" That's how emotionally mature I am. But every Friday morning, my sister reassured me that derby was not the barometer of my life as a whole, and that I just had to stick it out for the twelve weeks, and then I never had to skate again if I didn't want to. She made me promise to finish the session.

But somewhere along the line, something clicked with me. I think it was the night that Daisy grabbed me by the hand and forced me to do a baseball slide with her. I totally sucked at it, but she smiled and applauded me, and told me how awesome I was. She was totally lying, but somehow, it made me finally smile, get up, and keep skating. And then I actually started loving going to derby.

I started to branch out and tried talking to other girls. Talking led to laughing, and going out together after derby, and getting phone numbers, and texting, and talking on the phone. It led to late night conversations, coordinated no pants nights, emails that went back and forth for days - most so funny that I peed a little. It started treat nights, crafting parties, big plans for pajama parties, and skate maintenance parties. It led to friendships and a feeling of sisterhood, and sometimes for me, a feeling of motherhood, which was the last thing I expected, and didn't realize how badly I needed.

I lost my mom to cancer when I was ten, and I've been trying to fill that void ever since. There are countless amazing women in my life who have all played a part in being a mother to me, even to this day. My closest friends all play a part in filling that role in my life, whether they realize it or not. I don't think any of the Rockettes even know about my mom, but I hope I can tell them here how much they've helped to fill that void for me.

These are girls who have taken me under their wing and make the extra effort so that I feel welcome, even if my equipment is ghetto. They make me feel loved, even if my derby clothes aren't cute and my skates are from Big Five. They encourage me to always try harder, break out of my comfort zone, put on my no pants, and own it. They helped me gain back my identity, and be proud of it. Isn't that what a friend does? Isn't that what a mother does?

Many of the Rockettes are mothers, and I am astonished at how they manage to juggle everything in their lives. I only have to worry about me, and sometimes I barely make it out the door in one piece. These ladies take care of little children, husbands, families, jobs, and they make it look so easy. Not only do they make it look easy, but they love every minute of it. And that kind of love has transferred to the derby track, and made me feel like I'm part of something so much bigger than a recreational derby league. I feel like I have 30 mothers and sisters who all genuinely care about each other. Just last week, everyone pitched in to put together a gift basket for the daughter of a vet who is dealing with medical issues. The Rockettes were so generous with their donations, there was enough money to fill the basket with goodies and get a $50 gift certificate. The outpouring of love was overwhelming.

They genuinely care about me. The night I missed practice, I couldn't even count the number of emails, texts, and messages from derby girls, asking if I was ok, telling me that I was missed. One coach told me that they'd officially decided that I was never allowed to be absent from practice again, because they missed me so much. If that doesn't warm your heart, then you're probably dead inside.

I love each and every one of the Rockettes because they all bring something different to the table, and they've all had an influence on me. When I go to practice, I'm not the girl with cellulite and a flat bum. I'm not the girl with the love handles and back fat that jiggles. I'm not the single girl with no kids. I'm not the girl who says "wooder" instead of "water", or who gets sweaty just standing in place. I'm not "that girl who's mom died." I'm not my insecurities, my negativity, or my fear of failing. At derby, I am not defined by any of the things that I allow to hold me back in real life. I am none of those things.

At derby, I'm Bone Junior, and I kick ass, and I owe it to the Rockettes. And of course to my sister for talking me down every Friday morning, just like our mom would've done. Her telling me that I got picked last for kickball because both teams just wanted me so badly, that they had to fight over me, and it took them a long time to decide. Her encouraging me to make new friends and try something new, and to stick with it. That's totally what a mother does.