I Want a Gold Medal for Parenting This Summer
This year we aren’t going to be able to watch the Tokyo Summer Olympics. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t millions of parents out there who are deserving of podium finishes. Sound the trumpets. Cue the patriotic music. We F-ing deserve it.
Yesterday morning I woke up early, as I usually do, to sit and do this. To write. In quiet, while no one was asking me for anything, or help them do something, or to be the arbiter for some inane thing that I wasn’t likely to agree to. One round for mom.
The rest of the day unfolded in an Olympic round of heats, trials, run-offs and nail-biting finishes.
No, I wasn’t jousting a javelin, running the steeple chase, or triple jumping my way into a giant sand pit. I was just parenting, during a pandemic. You know this routine. You do it too.
And here were my Decathlon events, sequentially listed:
- Quiet round. Mom gets to do the work she does, which largely goes unnoticed, often unremunerated and generally falls low on the (family) value supply chain. Up side is this happens. Down side is it extends the day by a few hours. And it’s always the event with the least attendees — by design.
- High Intensity Online Pilates Workout. Perhaps a challenge to start the day dripping in sweat, but it’s my Friday thing. And truly, if my family doesn’t see the benefit in me getting these wrinkles out, that’s only because they don’t get to see the alternative of mom not getting enough exercise. Trust me on this one.
- Vigorous cleaning. Too many humans in this sweltering summer sharing small spaces requires regular floor mopping. Also, special mention, a neurotic attempt to beat some covid germs down to the ground, should they appear, on any surfaces and knobs and handles. Yeah for Lysol — you are the true winner of this event.
- Cajoling and Convincing. It’s the pandemic summer, where options of how to lull through each day are extremely limited. Our family is a lucky one who has decamped to a family cottage on a lake. And there’s precisely One Official Activity To Do, which is sailing. But it comes with a catch. It can only be done with a sibling. And therein lies the problem. This event failed and was forfeited. I’m certain my parenting performance here was not worthy of any medals. I’m just glad there wasn’t a stadium of people to witness it.
- Sailing. When younger sister wouldn’t agree to go with older sister, see above, mom says: Fine, I’ll go sailing instead. And you, young whiney one, can sit this out (without Wifi was briefly mentioned). So now mom is out on the water, in moderately high winds, for almost two hours, definitely enjoying this, but working quite physically hard.
- Regroup Parenting. This sport doesn’t always get the mention that it deserves. Judges award marks here for a calm approach. One that involves soft words, finding a resolution to challenges, getting the sulking ones off the couch. Extra marks awarded for giggling and hugs. Perfect scores rarely happen.
- Making Dinner. Working in a kitchen when it’s 38 degrees Celsius with humidity and no air conditioning, is a sport. Chopping, and browning, and dicing and stewing. Cleaning as You Go, C-As-You-G, earns special style marks. Sweat abounds. Physical without being obvious.
- Bike Riding. Busting a child off of the sulking couch, following the conclusions drawn at the Regroup Parenting event, often requires a follow up action. Event chosen today: bike riding, a 4 Km loop. But don’t be fooled that this just happens without effort. Still considerable requirements for the second heat of the fourth event, Cajoling and Convincing, to make sure the short cut isn’t taking, cutting bike ride to 2 km down from 4 km.
- Clean-up Supervisor. This pandemic has brought many changes to our family, let’s-be-honest, some good / some bad. But where we are excelling as a family is dinner hour. We eat together. We talk together. And then we clean together. It’s been some of our only glue. Yes, yelling. Yes sibling fighting. Yes parents harping. But we, as parents, have taken this on, and our family is better for it. But I will remind that this is in no way easy parenting. It’s sweaty, active, full of skirmishes and we often get wet.
- Night Parenting. Ah, the last event of the day. Often thought to be the relaxing, kids-finally-in-bed moment. But the potent combination of onset teenager-hood, with pandemic styled late nights, this event doesn’t always slip into the Easy Event Category. No, it’s still active parenting, even while sitting on your duff watching television, waiting and wondering when your kids will turn up.
I’m really trying to celebrate all these winning events as they unfold…and to see the bright sides of these events. In a Canadian summer when we can spend time outside, this is golden. Hence, the Gold Medal. Yes, simple logic applies here.
And maybe come November this will feel like a cake walk compared to whatever-we-get-to-deal-with-next, in this crazy year. But for today, this amounted to four-to-six hours of active physical activity, four-to-six hours of brain work and mental energy, and then approximately four-to-six hours of worrying or regretting or rethinking past parenting choices (also recognized as a calorie-burning event). It’s a long day. It’s every day.
So for now, all you Golden parents, keep an eye out for that brass band coming around the corner. It’s playing for you.