There are many good reasons I could give for why I want my daughter to play field hockey. I could say that I want her to learn how to be a team player, to be well coordinated. Or that I think it's important for a 12-year-old girl to get physically tired, so tired that she won't argue about clearing the dishes off the table or finishing her homework, too tired even to IM her friends. (Like that's ever going to happen.)
Then there's Title IX. I love Title IX. I love having a daughter who benefits from Title IX. These are all perfectly valid and plausible causes. Unfortunately all of them are rational lies. Rational lies are what you tell when you're trying to rationalize.
The real reason I want my daughter to play field hockey is the skirt.
The blue plaid skirt that is the pièce de résistance of the girls' field-hockey uniform at my daughter's school. (As opposed to boys' field hockey, which I guess would be lacrosse.)
If she makes the team, she gets the skirt. I want the skirt. It's so much cuter, hipper, and cooler than any gym outfit or school uniform that I can remember. But I can't have it. It's not my school. It's not my time. So I have to be content to live through her. Just in this instance, I promise you.
I don't want to be a vicarious mom. I have my own life, thank you very much. (I know it's here somewhere. Perhaps under a pile of papers.) But I love my daughter, and I love this crazy sport: the click-clack crashing of the sticks, the running up and down the field, the white shirts, the plaid skirts.
It is almost too wonderful for words. But not quite.
I'm sure there was field hockey in southern California when I was growing up, but somehow it passed me by. I swam, I golfed, I volleyed, I arched, but I never got to be part of a sport that had a skirt requirement. I can't help feeling deprived because of this.
I keep asking my daughter to see if she can get an extra uniform in my size. She thinks I'm kidding, so she laughs and says, "Oh, Mom." If she knew the truth, she wouldn't think it was funny. She'd think it was totally weird. And she'd be right.
I had my shot at miniskirts, back when I was 12. And I have no problem wearing the "mother mini," which is more or less the length that Florence Henderson wore on "The Brady Bunch." That's what I've become: A brunette Carol Brady. (Does that mean I'm Carol Brunette?) I don't mind. But just once I wish I could whack my way across an autumn field, playing the game like all the other girls, with strength, stamina, camaraderie, and pizzazz.
No, actually, I don't. I just want to wear the skirt.
Life isn't supposed to be about fashion, but sometimes life is wardrobe. Sometimes what you wear defines who you are, if only in part, or for a time. I want my daughter to be what that skirt means to me. I want her to be hardworking, fun-loving, team-spirited, spunky, funky, running full out, a believer and an achiever.
And I want her to be all this in a really awesome outfit.
Is that too much for a mother to ask?
And if not her, then me. Or better yet, both of us. Her in her way, me in mine. Age-appropriate goals and clothing.
But why not, just this once, in matching field-hockey skirts?