A Lacrosse Mom Learning to Live in the Moment
I am well aware of how fortunate I am to raise my children in one of the most majestic mountain towns in the United States, and yet, despite the privilege of living here, we also make sacrifices. When we moved to Aspen from New Jersey, my kids immediately took advantage of the outdoor lifestyle and world-class skiing in our backyard. I get much pleasure from proudly watching my daughter gracefully race down a ski run at top speed, and I’m blown away by my son when he hops through moguls like a bunny rabbit and flips off a cliff, spinning his skis in the air like an acrobat.
Along with skiing, my children also love to play lacrosse. Thankfully, Aspen has a well-organized and incredible club team and high school program that both my kids participate in. The downside of playing lacrosse in Aspen is that we travel long distances for games. Since our winters last longer than those in the Denver area, our lacrosse season is much shorter, and we also don’t have an indoor facility, so our teams are typically not as strong as others in Colorado.
Last season, my son, Judd, asked me if he could try out for an elite lacrosse team in Denver, where the level of play is much more competitive. Reluctantly, I agreed. The tryouts were held over two weekends at the end of the summer. Watching the tryouts, I was impressed with the high level of competition and skill these thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds demonstrated on the field. Judd, who has had exponentially less play time than most of those kids, went out there with an insatiable hunger and determination. Miraculously, he made the team.
As thrilled as I was for him, I was also dreading the commitment. Practices were twice a week for an hour and a half—in Denver, which meant for the next three months, on those days I would have to pick up Judd from school at around 1:30 p.m. and drive three and a half hours each way! That’s a total of seven hours of driving round-trip, fourteen hours a week, through the mountains, navigating dark, windy roads getting back to Aspen.
For inspiration and validation that I wasn’t insane, I spoke to another Aspen family whose son made the team a few years ago and did the same crazy drive. They said exactly what I was thinking: My son has a passion, and the flexibility in my schedule gives me the opportunity to fuel that passion. Time is slipping by fast, and before I know it, Judd will be heading off to college. I can use this opportunity to embrace the memories we make during the car ride and the joy I get from watching him on the field. Back in Aspen, Judd would rather hang with his friends than with me. But on those drives, it’s just us––chatting and listening to music or podcasts, and I get the added comfort of knowing he is safe with me, not making bad decisions with his peers. After every practice, we discuss how he did, how he can improve, and how to stay focused and enthusiastic. On the good days, we fist-pump, and on the bad days, I give pep talks. Another bonus is that we both made new friends who we’ve had the pleasure of traveling with for weekend-long tournaments in California and Nevada.
Embarking together on this lacrosse journey is teaching us both a kind of spiritual wisdom. Judd, of course, is learning to release and rise above negative thinking when he makes mistakes, disappoints his coach, or isn’t playing to his potential. Working at such an extraordinary level of play with other teammates is also humbling, and at the same time, pushes him to be the best he can be on the field. Many of us go through life comparing ourselves to others. Wherever we land, we will always encounter someone who is faster, smarter, stronger, taller, or more athletic. Judd is learning to access his inner strength, which lies within each of us, and use that silent power to grow as a player and as a human.
I, on the other hand, am learning to live in the moment. When my children were babies I breastfed them for almost a year. The first few months were not easy—but knowing they were getting so many amazing health benefits, I had no intention of giving up. I remember someone once told me to savor the experience, especially the dreaded late-night feedings, when I rocked my babies in the quiet stillness, bonding with them in one of motherhood’s most beautiful and miraculous gifts. This wise person warned me that it goes quickly, and after I stop breastfeeding all I would have left were the memories of holding them in my arms, feeling their soft flesh against mine, deeply connected. As strange as this may sound, I am doing my best to treasure this time with Judd in a similar way to the breastfeeding experience. He’s now fourteen, and my days of cuddling and holding hands with him are long gone, and sadly, even hugs are less frequent. Instead, I get to enjoy my almost-man as he sits next to me during the long car rides, talking and laughing, and rooting and cheering for him on and off the field. So every time I’m about to complain about my achy, sore back; the occasional traffic; driving in the horrid, snowy conditions; feeling anger over the one speeding ticket I got; wondering why the hell I am doing this; and convincing myself that he better play division-one lacrosse in college and earn a big, fat scholarship, I force myself to stop and remember that all this driving isn’t about that; it’s about living in the moment with my son, who is learning how to spread his wings before he’s ready to take off one day and conquer the world.