17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sports Obsessions, Emergency Rooms and Single-Motherhood

As much as I love watching figure skating and cheerleading competitions (and yes, those are sports) nothing can compare to the sports obsessions of the male variety. I also know this is absolutely not unique to my home. For my dh, the sport of Supercross trumps all. I really do try hard to be a "good wife" and be supportive. I listen to his recaps of the races. I can list the top racers by name. I have dressed my daughters in tiny little racing jerseys. I have gone with him to a few races. On occasion, I even wear the jersey that was given to me by dh’s best man as a wedding present (which was cleverly wrapped in a Victoria’s Secret box). It is actually not a bad sport to be obsessed with. It’s far more exciting to watch than any game involving a ball and both the girls and I look pretty cute in our jerseys.

Here is the problem.

My dh’s obsession with Supercross does not end at watching the sport. He lives for riding dirtbikes. I have even tried to be supportive of this. I have gone out to the track, I have cheered him on when he makes a good jump, I have even learned how to jump a 4-wheeler and ride a dirtbike myself. But (and here is where the emergency rooms come in), Supercross is a dangerous sport. It involves launching a heavy, fast moving machine into the air, hoping to have a smooth landing when you hit the ground. I have been to the emergency room with my dh 3 times because of dirtbike related accidents. Two of the three times have resulted in surgery, extended hospital stays and lengthy recoveries which have undoubtedly been hard on me and the rest of the family (this is when I start thinking those “ball sports” don’t sound so boring). Some of you out there might be saying – that’s it, just say "No more motorcycles. It's what is best for the family." Dh has even said those very words to me soon after each accident (though he has since recanted the statement claiming it was the pain meds talking). I wish the problem ended there, but it doesn’t.

This month we are going to be moving from NYC to LA. In NYC we own zero cars. In LA we are going to need two modes of transportation- one for each of us. We are buying a nice mini-van for me (I love minivans!) but dh wants to get – I think you can guess-- a motorcycle. Just thinking about him riding a motorcycle to work every day makes my heart sink. All I can think about is all the horrible things that could happen to him. All doctors call the things "donor mobiles" for heaven's sake! And based on my experience, I don't find the nickname too much of an over-exaggeration. But for some reason, I just can’t stand up and say “Absolutely no more motorcycles!” It has a little bit to do with the money we would save by buying a motorcycle instead of a car and also the fact that his commute downtown would probably be cut in half which means more time at home with me and the girls but that's not really it. Honestly, here is the biggest reason I can't say no: there is this twinkle in his eye and a certain special grin that comes only when he is riding a motorcycle. These uber-dangerous, killing machines bring my dh pure joy. How can I ever take that away?

I know what it is like to be really passionate about something. I would hate to separated from my passion especially by someone I love. But I really don’t want to live every day with the fear of becoming a single-mom.

Even if dh decides himself against a motorcycle for his choice of transportation in LA, they will always be in our lives. Our children will probably ride dirtbikes. They will probably crash and have to go to the hospital themselves. How will I ever overcome the fear?


  • Just think of two words: Insurance Money. Just kidding. He's probably gonna be ok. He will try to be as safe as he can when he is riding to and from work, it's not like he will be doing big jumps during his commute.

    But it would be nice if the decision was on HIM and not YOU as to whether or not he thinks it is responsible as the only male and father of the family, to go out and ride a dirt bike every day. How about a nice KIA instead?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/10/2006 01:12:00 PM  

  • I feel your pain. My husband has so many "passions" the list could go on and on. Topping the list are hunting, football, wrestling, weight lifting, and dirt biking. He has only picked up dirt biking in the past two years. I still don't understand why he needed another hobby. So far we have only had one emergency room visit and one surgery. Unfortunately this injury may keep him from enjoying the other hobbies he enjoys, especially wrestling and weight lifting. His shoulder may never be the same. This injury has helped him put his dirtbiking in to perspective and he is much more cautious now. I don't think there is really anything you or I can do or say to keep them from their dangerous interests. We can however pray for their safety and pray for the gift of disernment to know when we need to put our foot down. Praying for a little wisdom for them won't hurt either. :)
    posted by Blogger Camille at 1/10/2006 01:15:00 PM  

  • My husband's a skateboarder/bmxer/snowboarder/surfer, and the only reason he hasn't gotten into dirt biking is that we've never been able to afford it.

    Southern Cali is a haven for motocross. Your husband is going to LOVE it. Once you get out of the city, there's nothing but dirt. (To the east--the desert.)

    Have you ever been here (to LA) before? It's legal for motorcycles to ride in between car lanes here. The people who commute on motorcycles, when they get stuck in a traffic jam, start going in between lanes. It's sketchy and completely crazy.

    We have a good friend who was in a very serious accident on his motorcycle, almost died, went through years of surgeries and recovery, and will never be back to normal again (crushed his leg, among other injuries). So I tend to be very anti-motorcycle (at least in the city--I'm more ok with it in rural, flat areas). My husband is still very pro-bike, though. If he wanted to get a street bike, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'd try to discourage him from it, but I don't know if it'd work. He is a very good driver and motorcycle rider--very skilled, I wouldn't worry about him doing something dangerous and getting hurt. But my friend that was hit was totally blindsided, there was nothing he could've done to prevent it.

    My husband recently was talking to me about us getting our soon-to-be 16 year old a motorcycle. I told him no way. I said if something happened I'd never be able to live with the fact that it happened on a motorcycle *we* had given him. I'd completely go mental and never recover. He said, what if I just gave him one, not you? I said, If something happened, I'd completely go mental and never recover--and I'd divorce you, too.

    I think he thought I was kind of joking.
    posted by Blogger Susan M at 1/10/2006 02:30:00 PM  

  • I am on the other end of you dilemma.

    I am obsessed with horses. Not just the on weekend ride your horsey friend kind of obsessed, but 5 am, ride 9 horses a day, own 7 pairs of spurs obsessed. Before I had kids I was a horse trainer, and I LOVED it.
    I made my poor husband brand cattle while wearing boots and wranglers. I came home from work many times with chunks of flesh missing, hoof sized bruises, and while I was pregnant with my first child I was dragged (is that proper english)across a mountain top and knocked unconcious. The mountain just happened to be in the middle of nowhere. I ended up with a major concussion, a nightmare ride in a ambulance, cat scans, some stitches and a freaked-out hubby.
    Even after all that, I still want to ride. I even dream about it.
    I have however, for the sake of my family, quit riding full time. I don't want them to suffer because I have this dangerous passion. I have stopped riding "crazy" horses, and I ride a lot less. I don't want to completely give up what I love, but my family is so much more important. There have been many "talks" about what was most important to me.(before I had kids)
    If my husband said never again, I... (I can't think of what I would do; but it would be a sad day.) It hasn't come to that but, I have come to terms with the idea that my life is fragile and (sadly)I am not She-ra. I want to see my kids grow up ,not be a Christopher Reed repeat. It has been hard to cut back, but I want my husband to feel like I am not hurrying to death's door.
    I think Kage is right; maybe he should get a Kia instead.
    posted by Blogger Abby at 1/10/2006 04:09:00 PM  

  • My sister and her husband just bought dirtbikes for their entire family--one for each person (they have 4 kids). They live in AZ and LOVE riding together. My youngest sister also goes with them a lot. I suppose they're relatively safe--riding "family" style. The youngest is 5. I hear of their minor (compared to your dh's) injuries (so far) and it already freaks me out. I don't know how my Mom can stand it, living so close and having her daughters/grandkids getting hurt. I can't imagine if it was my own husband and it was so much more serious. I think Abby's experiences are really relavant to your dh's, Carrie. I'm impressed Abby's been able to find a balance she can live with. Ha--I guess that has a double meaning. I'd definitely have him read her response. And no, getting through traffic faster is never worth the danger you are submitting yourself to. My brother was in a "you're lucky you're alive" motorcycle accident years ago and has never owned one since.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 1/11/2006 07:00:00 AM  

  • Yeah, Katie and Abby make some excellent points....I think you need to find a compromise with him that will keep YOUR worrying to a minimum. Maybe it's either riding to work OR on the weekends???

    In my opinion, once you have a family, doing things that involve a high-risk of injury can go from fun and exciting to selfish.

    I know your dh well enough to know that he is passionate about LOTS of things he does....and you'll be in CA....can you divert his passions to other adrenaline highs but less crazy stuff like mnt biking, skiing, surfing....probably not, but you never know!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/11/2006 08:13:00 AM  

  • Think of it on the positive side: with gas prices the way they are, financially, a motorcycle can't be all that bad. Better than the not-so-efficient (but really quite wonderful to drive) minivan.

    Good luck.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 1/11/2006 12:19:00 PM  

  • Well, Carrie, it sounds like you're not willing to give up the twinkle that he gets from motorcycles. Hey, life is all about trade-offs. We take some risks because they make us feel good.

    Of course, you can minimize those risks somewhat. Make sure he buys the safest bike available; rides with a helmet; gets regular maintenance done; etc. He won't exactly be Steve McQueen riding around with the wind in his hair, but he'll be quite a bit safer that way.

    Good luck negotiating this one. Every couple negotiates these things differently. For some of us, our bad habits -- at least, the publicly known ones -- only extend to blogging. Mardell sometimes gives me hell about wasting too much time on blogs. If I ever wanted to ride dirt bikes, she'd probably shoot me. Either that, I suppose, or she'd love it.

    So is Todd going to be one of those people hanging out at the dunes at Yuma who we drive past every time we go to Arizona? They all seem to have RV's. Maybe you'll want to skip the minvan and get an RV instead.
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 1/11/2006 01:02:00 PM  

  • Sorry, but I am going to be the total killjoy and say that you have to say "No motorcycles." I'm a speech pathologist, and injuries to people who ride motorcycles do not just involve limbs. Head injuries are no fun. I have seen young people have their lives changed forever, and I mean forever, when they have had head injuries from motorcycle accidents. I have treated many, many people who have no memory, no impulse control, no safety judgement, who think they are at a mall when they are indeed in a hospital, people who can't talk at all, who can't read, or can't remember what they read, or who can't figure out what to do with a checkbook. A head injury is not just a bump on the head. It can, and does, completely alter
    a person's personality, and it doesn't come back. If the head injury is bad enough, it prevents people from working, from leading a functional life, and totally forget about being able to leave your kids with him. He will no longer be a functional Daddy.

    Sorry, but the risks are so very high with motorcycles, and I'd be very hard pressed to hear an argument for a motorcycle that outweighs these risks. "It's just so fun" just doesn't cut it in my book.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 1/11/2006 02:21:00 PM  

  • I have to agree with this last statement, Carrie. And yes, a lot of it has to do with the fact that you are family. Okay, all of it has to do with the fact that you are family. I remember how awful it was when Todd was hurt in Utah...and seeing the x-rays....shudder....

    Okay, so here's the deal (well, my deal). You tell Todd he can ride his bikes recreationally on nice dirt bike places where there are no cars or pavement. He can ride the train to work. :) :) Seriously though, your fears aside, make him think about the implications any future accident could have on his kids. They deserve to have a father not only alive, but functional as well...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/12/2006 06:42:00 AM  

  • I can identify with this one -- my husband got a motorcycle while we lived in LA with the plan of riding it to work through crazy LA traffic. Now that we're in Utah he's excited to get another one and be able to ride here without helmet laws! And of course our little boy will be out riding with daddy. I just pray more heavily than I ever have before.
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 1/13/2006 09:22:00 AM  

  • (I don't know blogging protocol, so I can be sure Carrie will ever see this, but never fear--I'll tell you in person eventually.)

    I'm very ambivalent about motorcycles. One of the few times I drove one, I fell off--no fun. But my grandparents and aunt and uncle rode them for years without incident.

    My story speaks rather to "dangers" in general, and the way we try to anticipate them. I don't think you can deny that motorcycles are more dangerous than other modes of transportation, however. . .

    My mother was an emergency room nurse while I was growing up and made several parenting decisions based on her experiences there. One thing she was very, very clear about was that my brothers would never play football for all the reasons you might imagine from that super-rough game. My brothers were allowed to play baseball, however, because the injuries were much less frequent and severe. And then in the championship game of little league, my 11-year-old-catcher brother was charged at home plate by a kid twice his size. He broke his arm in two places (but held onto the ball to call the brute out!). My brothers were able to convince my mother to release her restrictions on football after that.

    My point is simply that you don't know where danger is going to come from. You can get messed up from a car ride, a bike ride, a walk to the park.
    posted by Blogger newmom at 1/16/2006 02:55:00 PM  

  • Out of every person I or my family has ever known to own motorcycles (totaling 5) all but 2 have died. The other two survived really horrible crashes that should have taken their lives, and they have been left with constant pain, countless surgeries and the huge financial burdens that come along with it. Never think that motorcycles are cheaper to own. You will pay out in the end and if you are lucky you will ONLY pay with money. I am all for following passions, but there is a line to be drawn at putting your life in serious danger, and leaving your spouce a widow. There is a greater responsiblitly we gain when we choose to get married and have children. How would he react if the roles were reversed? I would think he would put his foot down and say...no motorcycles, probably cause he wouldnt want to be a single dad. Now with that said i do think there is a compromise that can be reached. I would definitely say no commuting to work. I used to live in CA and have almost hit a few of those commuting moto-heads that weave in and out of the lanes. Insanity! So maybe you can bend on the recreation dirtbiking, and pray you only have broken legs to contend with throughout your life...I'll pray for you and your dh. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger ksl at 1/17/2006 08:04:00 PM  

  • Motorcycles are dangerous? I'm shocked! Seriously, shocked!! If only someone had told me that before I broke my leg, my hand, both feet, my pelvis, my other leg . . . But those were the days before blogs. Luckily, I can get reliable information now.

    I am actually surprised that so many people would reflexively say "no" to their husband's passion - even a dangerous one. If the roles were reversed, I would definitely not tell my wife to avoid something she loved, say cheerleading, just because it happened to be the most dangerous of all sports:


    (sorry, I don't know how to create an actual link, but the article describes cheerleading as the riskiest of all women's sports, and maybe the riskiest of all sports - though in fairness I doubt motocross was included in the analysis).

    To me, life is about more than risk avoidance. Suck the passion out of life, and well, you have little left.

    Now, ask me if I will allow my kids to develop such a dangerous passion . . . that might be a different story all together. And Carrie, the same goes for cheerleading! : )

    BTW, riding between cars on the freeway is not that dangerous, despite how it might sound. Both the cars and the motorcycles are going slowly in the same direction, so an accident is unlikely to cause major injury (I assume the motorcycle is doing this only in reasonable situations). The more dangerous place to ride a motorcycle is somewhere like Utah - think 50 MPH speed limits on semi-busy four lane roads where cars routinely cross right in front of you after the driver has just made his trip to the local grocery and is not paying close attention to the road. The most dangerous situation for a motorcycle is a car making a left-hand turn crossing in front of the cyclist. I'll take a freeway commute between cars over such circumstances any day.
    posted by Blogger Todd L. at 1/19/2006 01:38:00 PM  

  • These last two comments are especially sobering and well said. I'm all for following your passions and dreams too. But...he's got a family that depends on him emotionally and financially. This isn't the time to mess with that.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/19/2006 02:25:00 PM  

  • By the way, here are some quotes from the above article. Just say NO to cheerleading!!! Far too dangerous.

    "injuries for high school and college cheerleaders have more than doubled since the early 1990s ... with the estimated number of emergency-room visits spiking from fewer than 12,000 in 1991 to about 28,000 in 2004. * * * no other sport comes within shouting distance of cheerleading in terms of major injuries, such as spinal and head trauma ... Of the 101 catastrophic injuries sustained by female high school and college athletes between 1982 and 2004, 55 percent resulted from cheerleading -- more than every other sport combined."


    "Last year, the NCAA's Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program found that 25 percent of its claims for college student-athletes since 1998 have resulted from cheerleading. '[That is] second only to football, and football was not that far ahead of it,' says Juanita Sheely, NCAA travel and insurance manager. When you consider the ratio of college cheerleaders to football players -- about 12 to 100, estimates Sheely -- that 25 percent figure is shocking."
    posted by Blogger Todd L. at 1/19/2006 02:26:00 PM  

  • Inside my kitchen cabinet I tape things that inspire me...not sure why it is in my kitchen cabinet. Anyway, on a tiny piece of paper is the question: Do I have enough risk in my life to stay alive? This is one of my mantras. However, my definition of risk isn't quite as risky as cheerleading or motorcycle-riding. Rollerblading without a helmut is more my speed.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/19/2006 05:06:00 PM  

  • We all weigh risks vs. benefits in our actions each day. Hopefully we are mature enough as parents and spouses to make reasonable choices (based on our individual circumstances), without teaching our children a fear of life.

    There are those who are afraid to fly, afraid to drive, afraid to ride, afraid to jump on a trampoline, afraid to do flips, afraid to skydive, etc. We each have our fears and most of them are not very rational. These fears are often passed on to our children.

    Most Americans have become so risk adverse that the rest of the world would consider us to be quite irrational in our thinking, especially regarding motorcycles as a form of transportation.

    Take a look at the following video clip to put some perspective on the matter.

    Saigon Intersection
    posted by Blogger Jim at 1/19/2006 06:09:00 PM  

  • Nice video of an intersection in Saigon. But no comparison to a US city. Look at all those motorbikes--crawling along at the same speed as the old ladies on bicycles. Then try riding a bicycle through Times Square in New York (which I have done, by the way) with 10,000 crazed drivers in 40 ton SUVs, all with blood in their eyes and hate for cyclists in their hearts.

    All you can hope for, Carrie, is that when he becomes a man, he will put away childish things.
    posted by Blogger Mark Butler at 1/19/2006 07:46:00 PM  

  • Sorry it had taken me so long to respond to everyone's great comments (I just got back from CA where I was looking for our new crib - neighborhood and house that is). The wide diversity of advice has at the very least convinced me that the internal struggle I have been gong through is not so wacky. People are obviously divided on the matter. Thanks to Camille and her comment:

    "I don't think there is really anything you or I can do or say to keep them from their dangerous interests. We can however pray for their safety and pray for the gift of disernment to know when we need to put our foot down. Praying for a little wisdom for them won't hurt either. :) "

    It was the only advice that gave me a little peace, which is exactly what I was looking for.

    Turning to God for peace. What a concept. And yet praying for discernment and wisdom on the subject never entered my mind. My prayers are usually more along the lines of "Please God, don't let him kill himself today."
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/20/2006 06:54:00 AM  

  • Oh and honey, thanks for your comments too. The next time I feel like cheerleading my way into downtown LA, I am really going to think twice.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/20/2006 06:55:00 AM  

  • hey carrie, todd pointed me to this thread so i feel compelled to write something thought i'm not sure what.

    by the way, congrats on the house and welcome to the money pit. alan king wrote, "anybody who owns his own home deserves it." now i know what he means. i miss my super. but i'll admit that the yard, washing machine, decent public schools that are easy to get into, and space for guests are nice

    i'm a huge fan of riding. similar to you guys, both times we moved out of the city we bought a family car (the 2d time we bought a minivan for which i do not share carrie's love) and a donormaker.

    in vegas i rode to work every day for a year with no problems. now, in phoenix, i ride to work everyday (except when i'm on my bicycle) and haven't had any problems.

    i love it. it's cheap therapy at 40+ mpg. obviously i do my best to ride responsibly, i always wear a full-face helmet, and i pray alot. i also get big bikes that are easier to see and hear and will get out of the way if need be.

    i felt and feel a lot more vulnerable on my bicycle in manhattan and out here. and the freeway during rush hour is as safe as a parking lot (i think it's safer than surface streets).

    and there's nothing better than when sara gets on the back and goes for a ride with me. i love it.

    anyway, i'm done rambling. i'm all for it and wish you the best. i'll tell you what bugs me, though. parenting and marriage seem to get harder, not easier, as life goes on. what's with that?
    posted by Blogger adam at 1/20/2006 08:10:00 AM  

  • Would you make your husband wear a Hi-Viz Yellow Lime riding suit, and would he wear one as a condition for riding?

    Answers to these 2 questions will give an indication of Carrie's level of concern for her husband's safety, and her husband's level of desire to ride a motorcycle.

    I'm voting that Carrie's fashion sense won't allow it, and that her husband won't agree to wear it. Maybe they can compromise and settle on a bright white helmet as an alternative, along with a little more prayer. :)
    posted by Blogger Jim at 1/20/2006 10:53:00 AM  

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