The Incredible PO
Watching the Winter Olympics this week has been so much fun. I cheer on all competitors, cry when they run a video of their story, and clap when they perform. I have seen spins, twists, flips, rotations, bone-crunching landings, and amazing feats come from these athletes. I have watched them grimace with effort, rise again, and weep in defeat. The overall process dictates that humans will push to fanatical levels and beyond. Levels I can only imagine.
When I watch the Olympics, my chest hurts and my heart swells. I am there, twirling on the ice and speeding down the slopes. In my mind I even look good in the gauzy, swirly skirts and super-slick spandex outfits. I sway to the rhythm of the skates as I circle the skating oval from the comfort of my recliner. I clomp up to the podium and warble my way through the National Anthem. I am there! I can accomplish great things! I am an Olympian!
I am an Olympian all right. Gold in “Supper Fixing,” gold in “Laundry” and bronze in “Housekeeping.” I endure nights without sleep, unending noise, and rotating schedules that would make anyone’s head spin. I am a repeat medalist in a complex, difficult game. The Parent Olympics (PO). My sport revolves around my family. I carefully considered before entering the Parent Olympics. I was young and thought I would be the greatest athlete in the sport. I certainly wanted to be. But life came along and I found that the Parent Olympics often took more out of me than I wanted to give.
I arose before dawn many mornings to prepare for the day. I practiced my sport all day, every day and late into the night. I observed others in competition and even subscribed to magazines focusing on the sport. I did great for a while, one-on-one. My times and responses were astounding. Suddenly, though, within the blink of an eye, I had a team with four new members. So many events were added. My timing was getting better in all events. I was up for the gold in “Slinging Things Together,” but had to settle for Silver because funding was low. I took a second job so I could continue to compete.
I prayed for success and was rewarded with more team members. I was tempted to quit praying. By the end of most days I was panting, but still keeping up. I consulted outsiders, trained hard, and got really good at deciding which detail to obsess over and which details to keep. My team members were growing and changing. I was required to make snap changes on a daily basis. I opted out of the “Dressed to Impress” event right away. With so many team members I was glad to be dressed at all.
The Gold medal in “Supper Fixing” came way back when I was young and flexible. I worked especially hard on it because I enjoyed is so much. However, because of the supper fixing medal we gave up all hope of competing in the “Slim and Trim” event. I waved the “Patience” event years ago and have been shaky on the “Be-On-Time-To School” event since the third team member joined us back in ‘91. I did get the bronze in “PTO Involvement” this past year and that came as a total surprise. We are back down to three team members and I am hoping for a final run at the gold in “Endurance Parenting.”
Serious PO competitors don’t have the luxury of time off between games, we get up each day, compete as hard as we can and pray that we have enough left over to try again the next morning. We don’t get fancy commercials, fat contracts, or even recognition sometimes. However, we are rewarded with a plethora of skills.
We can efficiently run a small country, teach courses in mind-boggling economic savvy, and maintain the ability to make things seem OK even while scrambling like mad.
But most of all, we end up with kids we are proud of. Kids who are taking a stab at the PO themselves and doing a fantastic job. Kids who join the military so we have a better place to live. Kids who give back to their community. Kids who call us and say, “You are an inspiration, mom.”
And that is why I rise each morning to give my best to the incredible PO.