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Olympians. Amazing creatures, amiright? Notice how I didn’t call them humans, because that would be doing them a disservice. I mean, what else on this planet has the strength, speed, agility, and sheer lunacy to accomplish such feats as spinning inches from the icy ground with their jugulars mere millimeters from their partners’ razor sharp skate blades?
Yes, every one of those athletes deserves to be right where they are today. I whole-heartedly applaud them from the couch in between bites of popcorn, which is right where I deserve to be with my lack of strength, speed, and agility. Jury’s out on the status of my sheer lunacy.
However, I do think we parents should give ourselves more credit than we do. I mean, sure we (at least most of us) can’t do the splits while leaping a mile off the ground in order to somehow gracefully fly down a mountain, and live to tell the tale. BUT, we do have a lot of the qualities it takes to be an Olympian.
As parents, we each wear about a thousand different hats. From cooks to nurses to jungle gyms to napkins… let’s just say we put Goorin to shame. Quite possibly the biggest hat we wear is that of SHERPA. Take, for example, the sheer amount of stuff that gets hauled into my car every morning when I drive the kids to school.
If you need a frame of reference for size, just realize that I'm actually sitting in the driver's seat on the other side... okay, fine, I'm not. But I may as well be. I can hardly see out the passenger side window when I drive. Which is really a bummer because I love catching people in the act of singing in the car. I digress...
That pile is nothing compared to the amount of stuff that comes home after school. The snack wrappers, the memos, the artwork. Oh, heaven help us all with the school artwork.
“But, don’t you have kids with arms who are quite capable of helping you out?” You ask. Why yes, yes I do. And, don't get me wrong - my kids do more than their fair share of carrying stuff. Of course, that doesn't stop them from giving me these looks every time I ask them to bring in so much as a granola bar.
And yet, I still end up carrying fourteen armloads of who knows what.
And that’s only the stuff. Let’s not forget about the actual children that, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, don’t come out of the womb walking on their own. No matter how many videos I showed them of baby giraffes wobbling around on their stick legs right after birth, my newborns just never figured it out.
But, let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than carrying our babies around. The squishy, warm blob snuggles can’t be beat. The trial comes when you try to pick up those blasted carseats.
Image courtesy of our awesome Uncle Pat
Come on, Olympic trainers. Just try to give me a forearm exercise that can compete with that.
It’s 7:47am on a Monday morning. Two of your kids are playing on the floor in their pajamas. The third is still asleep. They have to leave for school in t-minus 13 minutes. Your options are:
1. curl up in the corner with a cup of coffee and pretend none of it exists
I think it’s safe to say this is what every parent wants to do at 7:47am on a Monday morning, but we’re stronger than that, dang it! (see notes above if you’re not convinced)
2. shrug it off and let it play out in its own good time. Kumbaya and all that jazz.
Also an appealing option. Sounds very relaxing and leisurely, which are both lovely adjectives. But, this option also means that nobody will catch their ride to school. Aka, nobody leaves the house, and perpetual chaos ensues. Which is no bueno. And so, you…
3. get your butt in gear and light the fire under every one else. You don’t need 13 minutes. It only takes you 8 minutes to wake kids up, dress them, brush hair, feed them, and why not give them a bath while you’re at it just for kicks and giggles.
The same goes for bedtime. 7:30pm rolls around, and I’m like a sergeant marching them up to their rooms. GO, GO, GO! This is not a drill! Lights out in 5 minutes! I repeat, this is not a drill. Speed, my friends. Parenting is all about speed.
If someone created an Olympic sport wherein an athlete must place those little plastic snack baggies on each of an octopus's 8 arms, any parent who's ever tried to dress a mobile toddler would crush it. Agility with a capital-freaking-A. ‘Nuff said.
So, see? Maybe everyday parents aren’t so different from world-class Olympians after all.* We actually do have insane amounts of strength, speed, and agility thanks to the random conditioning exercises only children can provide. And, of course, we proved our sheer lunacy the second we decided we wanted to have kids in the first place, so there’s that.
Now, if you’d like to bring me my medal, you can find me eating popcorn on my couch.
*Of course I’m only kidding. World-class Olympians are waaaaaay cooler than me. This disclaimer will hopefully save me from getting beat up by an Olympian, which actually sounds more dangerous than being attacked by a herd of lions**
**Of course I’m only kidding. A herd of lions is waaaaaay scary. This disclaimer will hopefully save me from getting attacked by one
“Hey, Laura!” I wrote in my email. “Long time no see. Can I take you out for a coffee date soon to catch up?”
Let me stop right there. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite possibly the worst ever when it comes to keeping in touch with people. Just ask any of my high school or college friends. What friends, you ask? My point exactly.
What I’m saying is, this email was a big deal. I hadn’t seen Laura in well over a year, and I was trying to turn over a new leaf by reaching out to her.
A respectable 24 hours later, she responded: “Are you sure you’re emailing the right person?”
Ouch. I mean, yeah, I’m a putz at keeping up my relationships, but there’s no need to be snarky about it. Still, Laura was known to be a bit sarcastic, so…
“Yes of course I meant you!” I responded milliseconds later because I never did figure out dating etiquette. I offered up a time and place to meet, and she accepted. Whew. That wasn’t so hard.
The day of our scheduled date, Laura sent me an email. “I’ll be sitting by the front window, wearing a green vest.”
Seriously? It’s not like we haven’t seen each other in a decade or something, I still remember what you look like. Geez, Laura. Your sarcasm is getting a bit out of hand. Will you be holding a red rose, too?
I showed up to the coffee shop and looked to the table by the front window. Sure enough, a woman wearing a green vest (no rose) was sitting there. But, it most certainly was not Laura. Turns out, I’d been emailing back and forth with a COMPLETE STRANGER…
I stared in disbelief at her until she looked up and smiled. I’d been noticed. At that point, I had two viable options:
1. Run like hell out of that place and never look back
2. Fake my way through a friendly conversation as though I had indeed emailed the right person
But wait, you ask. Isn't there another option? Couldn't you just admit you'd made a mistake?
To which I say, are you crazy?! She'd already given me a chance to realize my wrong-doing. No way was I owning up to this.
“Chelsea?” She asked, extending her hand to shake mine. “I’m Laurie.”
YOU GUYS!!! The woman I’d sent multiple emails to didn’t even have the same first name as my actual friend!
“I know that!” I lied, bypassing the handshake and going straight in for a hug. “It’s so great to see you, Laurie!”
Option #2 was now in full play.
Ms. Green-vest already had a drink, so I excused myself to order some tea. Luckily, there was a short line at the register, which meant I had approximately forty-nine seconds to do some serious detective work.
I searched Laurie’s name in my emails and learned that while we'd never actually exchanged personal messages (other than to set up our little date), we were on the same email promo list for a yoga organization I’d done some work with. That’s as far as I got before it was my turn at the counter. Not wanting to be that guy, I begrudgingly put my phone away, sending up a silent prayer that my tiny sliver of discovered information could get me through the next hour of my life.
I made my way back to the table, repeating the name of the organization over and over again in my head as I walked.
“So,” I started right in the second I sat down. There was no way I was going to give this conversation a chance to get awkward. “How’s the yoga world treating you?”
“Oh, I left that job last year…” chirp, chirp. So much for not letting things get awkward.
But, I didn’t give in. Nope, not even a little bit. I rolled with the punches and asked her what she was up to now. She told me, but don’t ask me to repeat it because I wasn’t listening to a word. I was far too busy making sure I was nodding at the right times and laughing when it seemed appropriate. I even managed to touch Laurie’s arm a couple of times, just to really assure her that we knew each other. In other words, I was crushing it.
Finally, after 45 non-awkward minutes (I know, right??), I finally drummed up the nerve and said, “You’re probably wondering why I asked you out to coffee since we don’t know each other too well…” (err....at all...)
Her face relaxed, like she'd been holding in that exact question the entire time.
“It’s just…” I came up with the fib one precious word at a time. “I…Ever since…we were involved in that organization together…I’ve always looked up to you as…as a strong woman in the area…”
That probably would’ve been sufficient enough. But, no, I had to keep going.
“and I’ve…made a list of all the strong business women I know…and am asking them out to coffee…one by one…to get inspiration for my own life…”
She was flattered. And rightfully so. My delivery was so realistic, I almost believed my own lie to be true. She asked me if I could please send her that list of strong women. Of course I could, because that's what friends (err...people pretending to be friends...) do.
We said our goodbyes, and she hugged me like she meant it. Like she finally believed we truly knew each other. It was beautiful.
Then I got the hell out of that place and never looked back. Boy, did I learn my lesson. Sorry to all my old acquaintances, but I’m never emailing you again. It’s just too risky to try to catch up with you.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make up a list of influential business women so I can email it to my new BFF Laurie...
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I'D RATHER WEAR PAJAMAS