Just like you, I have been watching the Olympics in Rio and marveling at the athletes, their parents, the giant spectacle. I especially love when the commentators give background on the athletes, their history in the sport, their training regiments, who they are.
It occurred to me that parenting is an olympic sport.
You grind it out day in and day out for a moment in the spotlight once every four years. It must bewilder the athletes how deeply we, the general public, do not understand the commitment it takes to make it to the Olympics, let alone to the podium. The early morning alarms, the unpleasant training conditions, the millionth time you miss the mark until you finally ace the move. It must be a slog. There must be periods where it seems hopeless, that any amount of god-given talent is just not enough, that quitting would just be easier.
That is just the reality of being a human being and, I would imagine, that even with superhuman talent, you still need to be committed to working out and practicing and having the fortitude to overcome the obstacles. I mean, I am just guessing, but I have zero athletic ability and I have a pretty regular yoga practice that I fight with myself about on a daily basis. The stakes in my life are low, so if the stakes are that much higher, I bet the struggle is even more intense.
But I think this is very much what being a parent or guardian is like. Everyday, you march into battle to shape the little person in your life. To give them the skills in life to succeed or to survive. In my case, that little person fights me like hell. He can whinny and rude and ungrateful and stubborn.
Ron and I have to practically threaten him to get him to practice the piano and when we've suggested taking a break from the piano? NO WAY. He refuses and tells us he loves the piano. It is a slog. You often do not see results. You see the blood, sweat and tears. But then, every so often, you hear him play the piano with perfect tempo. He smiles.
This happened with swimming, too. This summer, he would argue about going to lessons and then refuse to jump in the pool and then he wouldn't be paying attention to his teacher. But, then. It happens. He swims on his own. He is proud. He jumps off the tallest diving board.
And that makes every single moment you spent fighting, negotiating and getting him there to the thing. It makes it worth it.
So, yeah, I will never know what it is like to win a gold medal in the 100 meter dash, let alone cross the finish line of one, but I do understand the effort and commitment (that is often thankless and difficult) because I am a mother.
And that kid is my gold medal.