The Mommy Track

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"Hi, mom, it's me, Kevin. I just wanted to see how roller derby was, and did you do good, and see if everybody did the whip...."

And so begins another voice mail from my six-year-old son, the older of my two boys, on a night when I'm at practice when he goes to bed. With help from Dad, he calls me every night that I'm not there to tuck him in. The message is generally the same -- he asks about practice, and says he can't wait to hear about it in the morning. His tone is as funny as what he says -- lilting and arching, sounding almost mock-mundane, like he probably hears in the longer messages I leave for my dad or brother. My husband gets similar calls from our son when he is at the firehouse on a 24-hour shift.

I save every last message.

He also peeks over my shoulder when I'm working on my skates at the kitchen table.

"What'cha doing, Miss Red?" He's always smiling when he says that, because he knows I think it's hilarious. Not sure how he picked up my derby name, but he uses it anytime he sees me with my gear. There is also a t-shirt half-hidden toward the bottom of his drawer that reads, 'My derby mom can beat up your soccer mom.' I have not yet figured out when or where it is something-like-appropriate for him to wear that shirt. (Birthday party? Grocery shopping? Picture day?) But there it is.

I didn't start skating for my kids. I started skating for me. But the longer I'm at it, the more I realize they're learning from it, too. They're benefitting, too, in ways I didn't see coming. There are nights when it's incredibly difficult to leave my boys behind and go to practice, and there are hard choices we make about our evenings and weekends, revolving around my derby schedule.

The derby moms I know have endless combinations of reasons why they skate and varying rank orders for what they get from derby. Somewhere in there, though, for every last one of them, is that it helps them be better moms. Stronger. Prouder. And way better at balancing six bags of groceries, a crying two-year-old and a full cup of coffee all the way through an iced-over parking lot.

Watch for more stories from The Mommy Track in the months to come.

-Undead Miss Red
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