“The first rule of this fight club is ‘Don’t get pregnant,’” TagHer Lily advised on the wall of my Fresh Meat Facebook group in fall 2011. A few months later, I found myself posting a picture of a positive pregnancy test to that very same wall. Though I’d been enjoying the “benefits” of being a newlywed, having married in March of the same year, I never expected to get pregnant so quickly. Being pregnant at the wrong time is kind of a theme in my life. I welcomed my eldest son into the world when I was just 17 years old. My boys were 13 and 17 when I became Fresh Meat; finally self-sufficient enough to leave home alone while I pursued a few of my own interests. Still, I was overjoyed to be having another little one. The only hard part would be leaving skating behind.
During my pregnancy, I tried, with varying degrees of success, to push away my skating aspirations. I knew it would be a long time before I’d be on skates again. I was accosted at night by vivid, pregnancy-induced roller derby dreams while my skates hibernated in the garage. I looked on wistfully while I saw my former Meat sisters perform amazing feats as rookie rollergirls. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I heard that ARG had started a Rec League. I was so thrilled and relieved. I knew that even if I couldn’t make the commitment to be Fresh Meat again with a new baby, I could still get my skating fix.
Lacing up my skates after a year away was scary and wonderful all at the same time. I was slower and clumsier than before, yet skills came back more quickly than I thought they would. Pregnancy weight began to dissolve. Instead of satisfying me, however, Rec League only stoked my desire to become a rollergirl. As a stay at home mom, Rec League was my only escape from a world of diapers and spit-up. It was the only place that was completely mine. After practice, I returned to my job as a wife and mom happy and fulfilled, if a little smellier. I only wanted more. I talked it over with my family and arranged a convoluted but perfect babysitting schedule between my two teenage sons, my husband, and my mom. I was going to try out again!
I found out I was Fresh Meat again two days before my baby girl, Emmie’s, first birthday. Being a Meat is never easy. I was haunted at all times by the stress of assessments and never being sure if all my hard work would result in being drafted. I passed assessments with elation and failed them with despair. I pushed myself more than ever before. Emmie watched dubiously while I jumped around doing plyometrics and squats in the living room. She spent countless hours in the jogging stroller munching animal crackers while I toe-stopped up hills and plow-stopped down them.
Just a few short weeks ago, I received the call that I had been drafted to the Atlanta Rollergirls. Grateful does not even begin to describe how I feel every time I have the opportunity to skate with the incredible women of ARG. I am so excited for the new experiences my rookie season will hold. Spending time away from skating made me realize just how important it is to me as a person and as a mother. No one in the family may quite understand the passion I have for this sport, but they still benefit from it daily. I may have broken the first rule of this fight club, but I don’t intend to break any others that keep me away from the track.