Let's play a little imagery. Conjure up your typical contact sport of choice. Try football or rugby or hockey or whatever. See the players? All lined up on the playing field, ready to use their bodies as blunt instruments to hammer the other team into submission? See the posturing of competition, hear the muttering of threats. Can you smell the sweat?
Rrrrr, violence! Blood! Fans yelling, "Hit the bastard!"
Now, I want you to imagine the sweet sounds of a baby cooing. Picture a nursery of soft colours, fuzzy bears, and cuddly blankets. Wispy little baby hairs, curling over the delicate neck of a infant.
Join me for a verse of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Is there a little cognitive dissidence between these two images? A bit jarring to go between two very different scenes?
Well, not if you've ever given birth.
Women do contact sports differently than men. I don't mean they aren't as rough or athletic because we know that's a pile of rhino loogies. I mean that women do not, actually physically can not, draw a line from where their motherhood ends and their sport begins.
Heck, given that there is often a bit of lag between the physical reality of a pregnancy and a mother's knowledge of its existence, there has some very young participants in sport. They're just lucky they aren't penalized for too many players on the track.
It is a common misconception that being maternal is the same as being fragile and weak. I have no idea why. Everyone know you don't fuck with a mother bear with cubs. Pregnancy is freakin' hard. Birth looks like a zombie gore flick. Living with an infant who feeds every 2-4 hours is like torture. Don't even get me started on toddlers. And it goes up to teenagers and twenty somethings that won't leave home. Frankly, the wimps get weeded out as early as morning sickness and only the strong survive. Children will eat you whole.
Which bring me to moms and roller derby.
There are a whole lot of moms in roller derby.
And we all have childcare issues.
There is a young child, secured in a penalty box with a bucket of cars and sliced apples, at nearly every derby practice. Older children, veterans of the box, are getting their own skates and joining junior leagues. Coaches hold babies while their moms work on their blocking, children sneaking sips of sports drinks, children screaming from the bleachers, "Hit the bitch, mom!"
The hardest practices I ever skated were run by a woman in her third trimester. I highly recommend avoiding coaches who are bloated, hot, and pissed off in general. By the end of practice, the sidelines looked like a triage, with exhausted skaters laying about while fresh bruises develop into blue green tinted Rorschach ink blot tests.
This is what I love about derby. I don't have to chose between being loving and tough, nice and a bad ass, or being a mom and doing my own thing. It all sort of works together. The women I skate with are, no shit, the nicest and most generous people I have met. They volunteer their time and expertise to help one another out, both on the track and way, way beyond and then go out into the community to do good there too. And why shouldn't they be so bloody nice? After skating like demons and hitting each other for a couple hours several times a week, they work out a lot of the rage and aggression that comes along with a human being at this day and age, especially when you've got a couple of little ones simultaneously stealing your heart and picking your ass.
And this is why there are a lot of moms in derby. Derby resonates with a mom's soul. Sometimes a mom just really needs to hit somebody.
That's why they call her a mother.