Time for a Time-Out

If you haven’t guessed from my lack of blog writing (thank you Stormy for picking up the slack), I am a bit behind on things lately. Usually I am pretty good at keeping up with my overly scheduled life. In fact, I take pride in being able to manage a crazy work and home life while still finding some time to spend with friends and do things I personally enjoy. But right now I am ready for a time-out from everything.

My son's main identity for four months straight.

My son’s main identity for four months straight.

As a hockey parent, it is somewhat expected to feel this crazed right after the holidays. In addition to the normal five days a week, tournaments start and, whenever possible, surprise ice times are thrown in. (The coach’s email is always worded as if we won the lottery by getting even more time on the ice.)

This year, on top of hockey, a few more twists got thrown in. My job got repositioned to report directly to the CEO. This sounded like a positive transition until I realized that all I admired about her—including a constantly active mind—meant that I’d be waking up to email brain dumps each morning.

Plus, hockey isn’t our only activity anymore. My daughter is older and ready to pursue her own interests, so we have tacked on gymnastics. Then, my son thought it was a great idea to add basketball to his winter sports schedule. I did protest this terrible idea, but I only have so much energy left for battling with a middle school kid on a non-critical issue. My time-out for myself is letting him make his own mistakes. (I often am rereading the  Top 15 Things Your Middle School Kid Wishes You Knew to keep may sanity in this area, and to remember that (most likely) I don’t have an insane alien on my hands that I am letting flounder.

So, my life after work seems to be figuring out who needs to go where and what to feed them (that’s somewhat healthy) in the short time span we have between activities. Life on the weekends is even more chaotic with added chauffeur duties to multiple games and transporting everyone (but me) to meet up with friends.

This weekend, in addition to having almost every moment of the days booked, I also had three hours scheduled for both Friday and Saturday night for volunteer duty in the penalty box during a girls tournament. (Twelve volunteer hours beyond your own team obligations are required if you don’t want to write a big check at the end of the season.)

It was when my sister asked when I had an hour to meet that I realized that I really had no more time. The only opening was between 2:10 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., if we met down the street from gymnastics. I was not looking forward to this weekend at all.

During my drive on Friday night to the arena, I kept reminding myself that it was just one weekend and then I would have all of my volunteer hours in. I couldn’t remember my rationale for signing up to do it all in one weekend. It seemed like a bright idea the month before. In addition to not being thrilled to spend two weekend nights at a rink when I didn’t even have a son playing, I also was a bit nervous. I hadn’t done penalty box duty before. My son had given me a vague warning to not to mess it up, and I had never really paid attention to that job before. In the past, I had always worked at the concession stand. But as a parent of an older player, I now got the benefit of tips from more experienced parents, who told me penalty box duty is a way easier gig than concessions.

Checking in and heading to the ice, I found the penalty box not quite as small as it looked from the stands. It was actually a warm and comfortable space. As the game started, I also realized I had a great view of the game and was able to hear the scoop on what the coaches were yelling to players on the ice and instructing on as they came onto the bench. It was a different perspective. The few times there was a penalty, I had no worries about missing the clock countdown. The players were on it. One girl even reminded me that I needed to be ready in 20 seconds. I am sure they would have jumped over the gate if I was a second too slow.

Penalty box is considered the box of shame. You know you just left your team down a person and the players left have to cover you in addition to their own roles. (Though sometimes the penalty seems worth whatever the action stopped the other team from doing.) A few texts came through while I was “working.” My family was busy trying to figure out what to do, who could come over, and how to arrange rides between different morning games. I texted back, “I am in the box you will have to manage yourself.” I was finding that this penalty box time-out was worth avoiding the chaos of weekend planning that usually consumes Friday nights.

I sat back and enjoyed the game in my VIP seat by myself with the exception of an occasional player joining me for a minute and a half. It is always at the most surprising times when I find  a moment of bliss.

After three hours of doing nothing but opening a door a few times, I came home to a quiet house with everyone asleep or out. I poured myself a drink and started watching a marathon of Grey’s Anatomy Season Five. (I am a bit behind on everything!) Making my evening even better was knowing that I had another “time-out” to look forward to on Saturday night.

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