We have seen the Proctor and Gamble “Thanks Mom!” commercials, as well as several mom-tribute copycats, and I do always appreciate that tribute to the hard work that an entire family does to get someone to the Olympics, but as someone whose life often revolves around getting young people to various (non-Olympic caliber) sports activities, I have to say that I was most incredibly moved and inspired by Noelle Pikus-Pace, the US skeleton racer who came out of retirement for one more shot at an Olympic medal. We have some committed athletes in this group of builders, and just to get in a daily run or to prepare for a longer race takes tons of discipline, household help and support from the husbands. I cannot imagine what was involved for Noelle and her family to get her to this point, and I was so happy for her, and THRILLED with her immediate run to hug her husband.
I have been reflecting a lot on how it has become the work of a family to create the most intense and often wonderful, childhood experiences. Young girls dedicate hours to dancing, and their parents to driving and paying for lessons, so that they can be en pointe for a year or two. Athletes and musicians study throughout middle school for a bit of high school or possibly college glory. And then? It seeems like too much of “grown up” life is a grind, the time when we have little leisure left while we are busy making the money and the homes, and spending most of our free time doing the driving for kids of our own. If this is life in your 30’s, it is not a surprise that many people are choosing to stay in long term adolescence instead.
The truth is, we have some leisure time, and in even the busiest lives we may have to force ourselves to carve something good out of this time. We may have to shake up the family dynamic a bit to make use of time that wasn’t already “free.” Dad can make scrambled eggs for dinner while you do something on Saturday afternoon. Kids can eat granola bars in the car after mass if that makes a noon mass possible. Sure, we don’t want to cut every corner, but sometimes we can make a little more room for ourselves in this family life. It takes organization and a lot of honesty, which is much more effective with the co-parent than passive aggressive sighs. Several of the builders have learned over the years that we really have to fight to prioritize some good stuff, or life will be all dishes and buckling car seats. It can be done. Red trained for her first marathon. J’ got back to her first dance class after having a baby. I drive three hours each way to teach adaptive skiing. We may not be winning any medals, but continuing to do the things that make us feel strong, whole and challenged make us better moms. I truly believe that getting on without us for a few hours make our families better, too.
So, on behalf of moms everywhere, congratulations Noelle!