Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Olympic Event

(I actually wrote this and was published in the local newspaper August 1996. I recently came across it again and thought - given the current summer Olympics in progress - it would be fun to share.)

The Olympics. Two words which render complete strangers into lengthy, arm-waving conversations. Everyone has heard of or spent some time watching at least one Olympic event. We've sat breathlessly awaiting the results of the last competitor. We've, no doubt, wiped a tear away, or swallowed hard.

If the viewer is particularly sensitive or patriotic he or she may be nearing dehydration by now. The Olympic games draw athletes and viewers from countries far and wide. All of the Olympic athletes are thoroughly trained for their events. Today's Olympic frenzy is at an all time high. However, there has been little said of one of the most participated-in events. There is one group of athletes who continue to maintain a rigorous work out schedule. These athletes know not what a day off means.

In previous Olympics we have followed male athletes such as Bruce Jenner, Mark Spitz, Dan Janssen and Dan O'Brien through their quest for the gold medal. We've been wowed with the strengths shown by returning female athletes like Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Gail Deyer and Janet Evans.

In 1996, spectators will be awed by the participants in the newest Olympic event - the Momathon.

Many athletic events date back to the original Olympics, held in Greece. The Momathon was created, in recent years, out of necessity. Participants must last longer and go farther than any marathon runner. This event is not limited to a mere ten events as in the decathlon. It exceeds the skills required too compete in the heptathalon. In this new event, the athlete must see how many tasks can be completed successfully in a twenty-four hour period.

The American female team is made up of moms from all over the United States. These women fear not what the dawn brings. They have trained to perfection and are ready for the challenges set before them. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Spectators may be unfamiliar with the individual rounds that must be completed before determining the champion. The following is a quick rundown of just a few of the obstacles the competitors will face.

The Morning Drill. Athletes are up at sunrise, preparing breakfast for five (nutritional value is extra), bag lunches for four, organizing school backpacks with the appropriate homework assignment, while settling the reoccuring argument over who should be in the bathroom first.

Athletes will continue with arranging the departure of three children on two different buses and one to day care. All of this is accomplished while the athlete maintains some sense of sanity, gets herself dressed for the day (including make up) and arrives to her own appointment on time.

The Laundry Sharpshooter. To win this event, athletes must maintain a keen awareness for the obvious. An Olympic stadium's worth of revolving laundry will be inside-out and armed. Participants must be able to empty a loaded pocket, previously worn by a small boy. One never knows what dangers lurk inside. The next step requires the athlete to have precision aim and a steady trigger finger, while squirting stain remover at even the smallest of targets.

The Phone Conversation. This event can be tricky. The athlete may find herself speaking with a salesperson, whose task is to convince her to change long-distance services. Other possibilities include a mother-in-law, an overseas inquiry, the doctor's office appointment confirmation or the random surveyor. Athletes must be careful not to be caught off guard and sucked into the question forum. Distractions will include the doorbell, an unbalanced washing machine, questions and answers from a teenager (usually one of their own) and the famous tears and blood combination from a young child.

The High Hurdles. Athletes will make a short dash across a toy-strewn room to prevent a pot from boiling over on the stove, thus saving the family meal of macaroni and cheese. Obstacles include the ottoman, stacks of folded laundry, building blocks, the rocking horse, two Tonka trucks and a sleeping dog.

The Five-Mile Shuffle. This event involves children and the family vehicle. Athletes must deliver no fewer than three children to three different locations, with two being required to arrive at the same time. An additional distraction, because these are the summer games, would be a detour from the closest, most obvious route, due to road construction.

The Grocery Store 100-meter Sprint. Late afternoon and the athlete must enter the local food chain store and purchase sufficient quantities of juice and treats for a child's soccer team, and dinner for the visiting office VIP, while still being able to check out through the limited number express aisle.

The Bake-Off. This feat is a common event. The athlete is told by a pajama-clad child at 9 pm that she has been volunteered to bake two dozen cupcakes for tomorrow's class party.

The 800-meter Airport Run. This event is not part of the daily routine, but nonetheless equally important. It consits of a race through any airport terminal, under construction, with a dawdling 5-year old, a crying 3-year old and a year-old sleeping child. Additional equipment necessary to qualify include an overpacked diaper bag, a bag of books and small toys, a stroller and an adult carry-on. The athlete will be arriving at Gate 33 and departing in six minutes from Gate 211 AND the plane is already loading passengers. There will be no outside assistance from skycaps.

As with any Olympic game, athletes may encounter deductions from the final score. Athletes must avoid using familiar threats such as "Wait until your father gets home," "If I catch you doing that again...," "Do you see Golden Arches in front of our house?" "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times...". These can be costly mistakes for the medal-seeking competitor.

When all the events are completed and the scores are taillied, the winners are not looking for a gold medal placed around her neck. These winners are the ones who sigh at the end of the day when they check one last time on those angels that lie peacefully sleeping. These winners are the ones who overlook the sticky, jelly fingerprints on the stair rail or the muddy footprints across the carpet.

Today's momathon winners are the ones that receive the bear hugs and the cookie-crumb kisses at the finish line. When all is said and done, today's mom's are all winners!

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