If I had a dollar for every time another hockey parent would say to me, “I could never be a Goalie Mom, I don’t know how you do it,” I’d be rich right now. My standard answer has always been, “I don’t do it well.” Don’t get me wrong, I am my son’s number one fan and have always been so proud of him. I admire his willingness to stand in net and not only face all the pucks coming his way but also face the scrutiny that comes along with being the last line of defence.
Being a Goalie Mom means facing so many emotions during a game, many of which are incredible, and some are very stressful. It’s hearing other parents tell you that your child needs to focus on the “whole” game at the age of six, seven, and eight. Unfortunately, at that age, daydreaming is as much of a sport as hockey is. Parents that would yell “pay attention” when my child was in Novice (learning to play for the full 45 minutes) seemed to forget that their child had just coughed up the puck because they had lost focus during their 40-second shift.
Being a parent of a goalie also means that you’re going to go into games armed with the knowledge that you’re either going to watch your child full of confidence because he made that big save or full of heartbreak because he let in the goal that cost the game.
It means spending time in the parking lot during a playoff game because you just can’t bare to watch. It’s knowing that you can’t buy that new living room furniture because the cost of his pads is going to be the equivalent. Each year, you settle for new throw pillows for your house content in the knowledge that your child is protected in net. It’s constantly hitting the stranger sitting next to you because your busy making imaginary saves from the stands. On a really bad day, it’s overhearing the other parents say they hope it’s the other goalie in net for the next game.
Worst of all, it’s the looks of sympathy you get after your child had a bad game. That tilted head, sad-eyed look from the other parents who are thanking God their child isn’t the goalie.
Yes, these things are many of the challenges of being a Goalie Mom but they don’t come close to the joy and pride that’s also felt each time they take their spot in net. There is nothing like watching your young netminder skate on the ice engulfed in that equipment for the first time. Their little legs stumbling to get to their crease just to fall down once they come to a stop. The feeling when they make that first save and celebrate while the play is still going on. The look of the bright red cheeks and smiling eyes through that mask that makes them feel like they’re a superhero.
As they get older it’s the joy of watching your young goalie spring from the butterfly in a split second, make that incredible glove save, and a pad save to stop a puck in order to keep their team in the game. Yes, I have to say there is nothing quite like it!
So the next time you see a goalie dragging their equipment into the rink I would ask you to consider this: they made that team by competing for only one of two spots. They are required to be at their best for the full game. There are no short shifts for a goalie. Their equipment is heavier than everyone else’s but they’re expected to have cat-like reflexes, and most importantly if they make a mistake EVERYONE will notice. Yet in spite of all these challenges, young players still want to strap on the pads and take their spot in net to be that last line of defence.
As a Goalie Mom, it’s true I see the game in a different way and tend to get defensive when I hear people describe goalies as “weird”. I guess that’s because in my experience I would describe them very differently. My description of a young player that makes the decision to be a goalie would be that they are brave, strong, and resilient. So the next time someone asks me what it’s like to be a Goalie Mom, I’ll proudly say, “There’s nothing like it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”