I’ve been amazed by all of the cool women I’ve met, a lot of whom are also mothers. We often joke about what things will be like once “we start beating each other up in November,” but as the weeks pass and I get to really know the other skaters through practices, committee & league meetings, and at social events, I know that competing in bouts will only make our friendships stronger.
When I became a mom, I met and became friends with a lot of other mothers by default at the playground or at school. I knew them as “Lucian’s mommy” before ever knowing her real name. In derby, I’m getting to know women by their rink names before ever discovering they have kids. Instead of talking about poop or sleep schedules, we discuss marketing strategies for the league, the best place to buy kneepads, or how to get affordable medical coverage. It’s a whole new world—one where I meet women with similar interests rather than just meeting women with kids of similar ages. Not only that, the derby allows me to involve my kids in my interests instead of vice versa.
People who think of roller derby as “wrestling on wheels” might question whether involving kids in the league is a good idea, but I don’t. I want my boys to have a lot of strong female role models. Mommacherry says her daughter has been raised by roller derby. “Thea was four when I started and I had no choice but to take her along to practices. She has become friends with the girls in our league and I’ve watched her become more assertive and more outgoing. Her social skills have really been advanced by all the friendships she’s formed with powerful adult women.”
Eight Track also credits roller derby as a positive influence on her children. “My kids attend meetings, events, and do volunteer work with us, and they get a really up close and personal view of how a business works. All of these things will end up benefiting them as adults,” she says.
Kids can also contribute to the success of the league. Kim Possible, trainer and captain of the Queen B’s in Minnesota, says one of her teenage sons helps new recruits learn how to skate and the other acts as an announcer for a local TV show featuring the TC Rollers.
With roller derby leagues sprouting up all across the country—and with mothers comprising anywhere from 15-75% of the skaters—it is clear that roller derby needs mamas as much as mamas need the roller derby. Tinkerhell says, “Parenting skills often come in handy when dealing with 40+ plus strong-minded women,” and I have to agree. This isn’t to say that the women need to be treated like children, but that there is a lot of work involved in getting a derby started and keeping it running. Being open-minded, flexible, and willing to negotiate—skills inherent in parenting—are extremely beneficial to the league.
Despite the derby’s rough reputation, I have also had many occasions to incorporate my nurturing skills as well. Each skater has a “Derby Wife,” someone they rely on to sort out tough issues or to share in the good times. My derby wife is a new skater and I have spent a lot of time encouraging her and offering her advice. And I have also turned to my wife and several other skaters for encouragement and advice when I needed it.
Recently, for reasons beyond our control, we had to move to a new rink and reschedule our practices. It was a difficult move for me since I have a pretty tight juggling act going with my work and family schedules. If just one ball got out of sync, I feared dropping them all. The thought of not having the derby in my life was extremely depressing. I felt a little like the boy in the Oscar Meyer wiener commercial. “Please, don’t take my roller derby away!”
It has been challenging for me to relinquish control in some situations and think of the league of as a whole, but I believe it is helping me become a better player, a stronger woman and a more present mother. Now, if I could just get those derby girls out of my head while I’m trying to sleep…
"Smashimi" t-shirt by Debbie Lee
|Top Ten Reasons Mothers Should Join the Roller Derby
10. Mothers have quick reflexes. Catching a toddler from falling off of the playground ladder is just one degree away from suddenly jumping over a downed rollergirl in front of you.
9. Mothers get on the job training. Toddlers constantly demonstrate proper hair pulling, smacking, biting, wrestling, and eye-poking techniques.
8. Mothers deserve to have an appropriate time and place for their own temper tantrums.
7. Mothers have good balance. Balancing on four wheels is a hell of a lot easier than balancing a baby on your back, a toddler on your hip, three sacks of groceries and a bulging diaper bag in your left hand and a smoothie in your right.
6. Mothers have high pain thresholds. Bruises, strawberries, and abrasions just don’t compare to labor and delivery.
5. Mothers are used to getting yelled at. “Smashimi scores again!” is a welcome change from “I.Said.I.Want.A.Juicebox.NOW!”
4. Mothers were born to multitask. Checking email while doing laundry and talking on the phone is basic training for doing crossovers while looking over your shoulder and plotting your next tactical move.
3. Mothers are expert negotiators. If you can convince your toddler to eating broccoli without alternating bites of ice cream, you can convince your team to kick ass.
2. Mothers like to play dress up too. Short skirts and striped tights are a welcome change to spit-up covered velour sweatsuits.
1. Mothers know how to stick to a schedule. If you can get your kid to sleep
through the night and know exactly what s/he ate in the last 24 hours as well
as what it looked like coming out, you’ll have no problem fitting 2 practices
and a committee meeting into your life each week
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