The REAL Olympians

“Let the Games Begin!”  declared the Queen of England last Friday as 60,000 spectators; 15,000 volunteers; and 10,960 athletes filled Wembley stadium for the 2012 Olympic Games Opening.  It’s estimated the that 8 million tickets will be sold to spectators to watch the events live, and 4 billion viewers will watch the games on tv.  The US is fielding a team of  529 athletes-268 women and 261 men, the first time ever that the US team has more women than men.

Ye Shiwen is a 16 year old swimming phenom. Michael Phelps has made Olympic history with the most medals won – by anyone, ever.  The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won their first Gold in 16 years. Equestrian events are a favorite with the Queen’s grand-daughters.  And there’s Javelin, track & field, fencing, the decathlon…206 events in all.

But there’s not one event that recognizes the Olympics of Parenthood.

“Are those mummies and daddies?” Nell asked, as she waved to the television screen of athletes parading into the stadium.  Yes, lots of those people are mummies and daddies! On the US Olympic team alone there are 54 daddies and 13 mummies. But before I could answer, she disappeared.  Lego is, according the world of this toddler, much more interesting than the Olympics on television…as it should be.

True, being a mum or dad juggling 5 tasks at once while watching a toddler  takes a gold medal performance in gymnastics  to the next level.  Cirque du Soleil, take note.

True, parents wake up before dawn to prepare for a marathon day often following a marathon sleepless night.  And parents prepare for this not every four years, but everyday.

True, fencing is a sport that requires disciplined maneuvers, grace and lightening reflexes – but it’s no match to a parent’s super-human powers to defend or save a child in harm’s way.

A parent doesn’t question another parent’s abilities with demands for blood-doping testing.  Most parents might even concede that if a mom or dad has a great way to do something, we might all just take note.  Sure, parents are competitive.  We’re human.  Just like Darwin theorized – we compete to survive.  And surviving Parenthood is an Olympics like no other.  It does not give out medals;  it does not offer coaching to improve parenting skills; and  there isn’t a “Dream Team” of parents who have all the answers.  There is, however, one truism that shines as brightly as the torch passed from athlete to athlete: “no matter what you do (as a parent), you’ll always be wrong.”

And so, as we continue through the 26 days of great sportsmanship and world class competition, let’s pause to acknowledge the “real Olympians” – and yes, that’s you, mom & dad.