According to the Urban Dictionary, a “hockey widow” is “a woman who is married to a man who is so obsessively involved with hockey that it keeps him away from home.” That’s me, except technically I’m defined as a “hockey widower.” And I’ve got issues. This time of year, I feel I’m in a state of permanent grief.
It started years ago, not too long after we were married, when Jane said, “Glen, you okay if I join a pick-up league and play hockey on Friday afternoons?” Seemed okay to me. When she was in school she played hockey instead of figure skating. By the time we were married she could skate rings around me, so it kind of made sense. And I wanted to be a complying spouse.
What she didn’t tell me at the time was that it was a men’s league. A short while later, Doug, a friend, said to me, “Hey, I played hockey with Jane last week. She’s really good.” “Wha …?” I uttered, like a fool.
After that, every Friday through the winter months, I sat with the other spouses in support of our better halves – me the only male. I mean there was only so much talk about health foods, things at work, latest shoes, kids, and spas that I could handle.
I should say here that I have no interest in hockey – nada. I’m a football guy. The ribbing I constantly endured from the firefighters because my wife played hockey never ended. I did my best as a supportive spouse, but, well, you know.
And then wouldn’t you know it – Jane got our Sudanese daughter Abuk into it. It was my fault really. I would pick up Abuk after school and take her to the rink where Jane was playing. She’d be really proud of her Mom, I thought to myself, little realizing that I was in the process of aiding and abetting another hockey animal.
How bad is it? Well, let’s put it this way. Jane and Abuk played all winter and, thankfully, that season ended a month or so ago. Then Abuk joined a 3-on-3 hockey league and that goes on for … O forget it; I don’t really want to talk about that. And now she’s also signed up for ball hockey – it never ends.
Let’s talk television. The London Knights are in the playoffs, as are Toronto and Montreal. Just last week, when Jane and I would usually watch the tube to wind down, all three teams were playing on the same evening – unbelievable! I couldn’t handle all the channel changing and went out onto the couch to sulk – which I did, very well.
This is how marriages hit the rocks – or in this case the boardsJ How much is a husband expected to endure? It’s supposed to be a partnership, right? I do the dishes and the laundry, clean the house and repair the deck, as is my privilege and responsibility as a mate. But where’s the partnership in this hockey madness.
Of course I’m proud. Jane is always a topic of discussion, especially when spectators come up to me at her games, saying, “Is that a woman out there?” I nod, responding, “Yup, that’s my wife.” Then they get this funny look on their face and it’s humiliating. I complain. I moan. I sulk. But deep down I’m grinning from ear to ear.
And what can I say about Abuk? How does it get to be that a four-month old slave kid from Darfur ends up on the skating rinks of London, Ontario and playing her heart out – just like her Mom? What a transformation. What a privilege.
I’m writing this post in the evening, as Jane and Abuk sit in front of the television watching the Canadiens. But what about me – the husband? The Dad? (Sigh). I hope this post garners me a bit of sympathy, but I know it’s not likely. I’m okay with hockey being our national sport – I get it. But it’s taken over our household like some new pet dog that never stops barking.
“Ninety percent of hockey is mental and the other half is physical,” the Great One once said, in a play on words. Well for me it’s 100% emotional – pride and pain, time and torment, joy and jilted. Here’s hoping you’ll understand. I need some attention.
Update: I just finished a coffee with my friend Gord. He just informed me he’s looking forward to playing in the men’s league with Jane every Monday through the summer and fall. I came home and asked her if it’s true. “Yup, I started last Monday,” she answered. That means she’ll be in hockey until October, when her regular season begins. Twelve months a year. See what I mean?