Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Motherhood

I’m Going for the Gold!

I have something in common with SuperMom and First Lady Obama?

I am not a sports fan. Not at all. In fact, the only “sport” I’ve ever been good at is double dutch, and that was over 15 years ago. Even then, I wasn’t flipping and carrying on between those clotheslines we used as jump-ropes. Regardless, though, of my overall lack of real athletic ability and my nearly total aversion anything sports-like (I don’t even like Gatorade), I am fascinated by the athleticism of others. When I was younger, I used to secretly wish to be more athletically inclined, but every time I started to sweat or breath a little harder than normal, I gave up and grabbed a non-perspiration inducing book to read.

Second place is pretty great, Ms. Demus!

So when I see the highlight reels, because I don’t have the patience or the time to really watch the actual events, from the Olympics, I’m awe struck at the competitors. Then, when I see their back stories on YouTube or read about their histories in online newspapers or magazines, I’m proud of their successes. Then, when I realize how much the women, especially the moms, at the Olympics contend with just make dreams come true, I’m inspired.

It’s hard, I mean really hard, being a mom. The emotional toll alone is enough to drive the average man crazy, and if a mom strives to do motherhood right, she is in an almost perpetual state of stress, responsibility, and chaos. I’ve learned that there’s no real “balance,” for balance is perfection. All most of us really accomplish every day is putting out fires and preventing other fires from getting started. It’s fun sometimes, but sometimes it most certainly is hell, and the only people who seem to really understand are those on their own personal front lines of similar struggles themselves. The sages, you know, the women whose kids are grown and gone, give us hope that one day we’ll be able to smile reassuringly from afar at some other woman, and they keep us mindful that we are not crazy and that doing the best we can is truly the best we can offer, and that’s pretty awesome.

Olympian Gabby Douglas’ Mom, Natalie Hawkins

I watched Gabby Douglas’ mom talk about how hard it was for her to allow her baby to go across the country and live with a host family all in the name of allowing her daughter to “follow her dream,” and I wept for a decision that I know tore her up. I know that she had people in her life telling her that the choice she’d allowed was wrong, for “how could a real mother just give up her baby?” I know she lay in bed at night and prayed like she never had before for the safety of her baby so far away from the love of her comforting embrace. I know that underneath the gratitude she had for the host mother, she was a bit jealous of not being able to see that big smile stretch across her baby’s face or see her eyes light up as she told some teenage tale. I know that she held her breath as her baby competed in London. And I know that God proved that all that motherly sacrifice was worth it when her little girl stood on that podium with that gold medal dangling gloriously from her neck. I also know that she probably thought back to the day she first held Gabby in her arms, knowing that she was destined for greatness, vowing that she would do all she could to give her the best possible life.

To most underrated athletes around: Moms

You see, that’s real athleticism. That’s strength, courage, endurance, and power. That’s Olympic spirit from the stands, from the living rooms, from the nurseries. Mom’s, the first teachers and the biggest cheerleaders, compete on the world’s stages every day in the names of their children. We know that we are not all going to raise Olympians, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love, strive, and sacrifice to ensure that no matter what “sport” our babies pursue, they’re equipped and supported. And for that, we stand proudly in first place, claiming our gold.

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