A Mother’s Olympics, Part One, by Betty Mason Arthurs
The 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro, captured the world’s attention as nations root for their favorite athletes. I’m exhausted just watching the competitions from my comfy couch.
There are exciting feats of men and women volleying, swimmers churning, gymnasts leaping, cyclists cycling, pole vaulters vaulting and other forms of athletic magnificence. Makes even a couch potato like me want to shout with the thrill of victory and groan with them through the agony in their feet. Foot problems I can relate to since I have suffered with arthritic feet for years.
However, I now have new insight after watching hours of the athletes in Rio. I am a proud participant of an overlooked prestigious event which I have named: A Mother’s Olympics.
My husband and I raised two children, a daughter born in 1969 and son born in 1972. (Note their photo above.) Against all odds and often in agony, we trained and competed in “Mom and Dad Olympics.” But most mothers affirm there is a more prestigious event, Mother’s Olympics. Here is a sampling of medal winning events forever etched in my aged brain.
Newborn Vault and Duck
I did a serious vault as a new mother and launched head over heels in love with a newborn after I heard their first cry. Then the serious training began. Or should I say, “learn as you go” feats are birthed through sleepless nights of soothing a colicky or feverish babe. (I must add my gratitude to the pacifier inventor, I never left home without it.).Quick reflexes are vital as you duck during diaper changing your son or so your baby girl doesn’t puke green slime down your favorite pink T-shirt.
I know of one mother, a true athletic hero, horrified over the dirty public restroom, but in desperate need to empty her bladder. She held her newborn, diaper bag and purse above the floor and completed her business in world record time. She saved her sweetie from virulent viruses. Did I mention, there was no toilet paper but she had a gum wrapper handy? Give her ten Gold Medals!
A new mother breathlessly grasps her medal as she jumps from being a nincompoop to a tender, loving newbie parent. It’s a shock when supernatural love and protectiveness for your precious baby surges like a geyser at Yellowstone from a selfless heart.
Toddler Balance and Wrestling
Now you enter a competition mothers fight to win; Balance Beam and Wrestling. Protect your parental sanity by never speaking “doctor” or “shot,” before hauling your darling to their checkups. You become a champion wrestler and balancing expert while maneuvering a kicking toddler out of a poopy diaper in a mall parking lot while wiping the bottom clean, all in the back seat of your stinky van. Just thirty minutes ago you twisted your toddler into the car seat. Please don’t cry. You drove too far to the mall to go home now. Push your pint-sized adult, while feeding them Cheerios, in their stroller to Macy’s for a motherhood escape among exotic perfumes.
Teaching this age is “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” lessons and drinking double shot espressos before starting the sport of potty training. All around events also include coaxing Junior to try peas and other vitamin rich food, to take a nap, to enjoy bedtime rituals, and kindness. For me, by the toddler age, I have sung “Jesus Loves Me” for a million meter laps to create bedtime peace. And I thank the Carpenters and their 1970s music for soothing my mind through toddler shenanigans.
The Gold Medal is a mother’s award for the chaotic toddler balance beam and wrestling achievement.
Preschool Backstroke and Gymnastics
Several competitions encompass preschool events. I think it’s the gymnastic floor exercise and 100 meter backstroke. Mothers fly through the air, doing back flips to make them happy with PBJ sandwiches and carrots. You backstroke through the mall, searching for the Christmas present at the top of their list. Now you have to spell out “doctor,” “shots,” “ice cream,” and “candy” (a word of caution, some preschoolers can spell). You rattle the piggy bank to enroll your tiny best friends in YMCA soccer and gymnastic lessons. Hopefully your home is now a diaper-free zone. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Seuss for his creative books and to the TV producers of Sesame Street.
You are an awesome Gold Medalist, but turn that hunk of medal into cash to buy a million Legos. Hmm, maybe not, since they are perfect instruments of torture when you step on them in the night. Buy “Beanie Babies” instead.