Passing on the gold
MAR 3, 2010 | COMMUNITY
By NATHALIE HARDY | March, 2010
Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register
I nearly submitted a column of record-breaking brevity this month. I had just five words in mind: "This page intentionally left blank."
When my editor called to ask me if I'd lost my mind, I figured I could pass it off as an ironic portrayal of my life as the mother of both a toddler and a newborn - a page out of a life where writing seems to be limited to lists of questions for the doctor and checks made out to the hospital.
But then something kind of cool happened.
The day after watching Shaun White win another gold medal snowboarding in the half-pipe, I mentioned to a friend how much I admired his mad tricks, raw talent and pure enthusiasm. "I wish I could be as awesome as Shaun White at anything," I said, "even for a day."
"You are," my friend answered, pointing to the boys. "The Olympics are just games. This is real life, only there's no spotlight."
As I sat there with the baby's fresh spit-up in my hair, most of Sam's dinner in my lap and hormones still going crazy in my body, I got a little choked up. As small as it may seem, in a job where guilt and criticism are all too common, there's no such thing as too many compliments.
As I basked in the warmth of my friend's praise, it felt a little like someone had draped an imaginary medal around my neck.
I haven't mastered the McTwist. And I'd never heard of a "double cork" before I googled "Shaun White."
But come to think of it, I suppose I could qualify to compete in the Olympics with a few tricks of my own. I'd proudly compete in speed-showering, toddler-wrangling and tandem diaper-changing.
Since I know I'm not alone in an under-appreciated field of work, I got to thinking about comedian Bill Engvall's "Here's your sign" campaign, warning people they were about to come into contact with stupidity. It was embraced by enough people that I'm thinking we could start our own version - more helpful, albeit less humorous.
I have in mind a "Here's your medal" movement. If you see a parent doing something you respect, tell them. It's that simple.
It'll help make up for all the times they have to skulk out of the store for taking their toddler in too close to nap time. Or is that just me?
We spend our time sweeping Cheerios instead of events. So we are ultimately judged by our conscience - and our children - instead of placards held up by a panel of experts.
While the Olympic torch is extinguished during the closing ceremonies, the torch we light for our children never goes out. Instead, it burns in our hearts forever, lighting a path through the darker times of parenting.
For parents, victory isn't a game. It isn't even something tangible. Victory for me has nothing to do with triple axles or signature tricks.
I celebrate moments when I manage to get my kids to sleep simultaneously or see Sam share his toys without being asked. Sometimes, a win around here is simply persuading Sam to sit still at the dinner table and actually eat some of his food.
Getting a column done on deadline, with no child care, requires typing most of it with one hand. Now that's the kind of victory I'm proud to celebrate.
It's not the life of a super-star athlete. No one is singing the national anthem in my honor.
But I wear my "mama" medals proudly. I hope you'll join me in passing on the gold.
Nathalie Hardy is a local freelance writer who writes in the margins of her life with two busy little boys, a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting and a sweet, semi-trained Labrador.