Hopespotters: I spoke to an old friend today who asked me how the “blog” was going.. I shamefully admitted that it needed some love. I told my friend that, like in the case of many things that were truly important to me, I lost sight of its importance over the summer. I told him, and I meant it, that I have every intention of reigniting my passion for my blog baby soon.
So tonight marks the end of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. If you follow me on social media, you know I have truly enjoyed - and participated as one can from a couch in - these games. The past two weeks have brought in front of our eyes the whole enchilada of athletics that I so deeply love - the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and all the compelling human interest stories in between.
Back here in reality, something else epic happened in the last two weeks: school began. Whether it be for the first time kindergartener whose backpack goes from neck to ankles or the first time leaving for college freshman whose parents are trying to stand up from a gut punch, back to school is the parental Olympics.
Many of us have seen the footage of gymnast, Aly Raisman’s, parents watching her perform. It is the ultimate depiction of parenting- while Aly’s parents were in an uncommon placed while viewed, their leaning, peeking through hands, can’t watch - have to watch, body girations spoke volumes about parenting in general. Holy hell, as our babies go back to school, we, as parents, have to pretend to stay cool. And yet, like Aly’s parents, we are terrified: will you fail and we will have to provide comfort? Will you madly succeed and we will have to find the next best step for you? Will you be treated justly? Will you find worthy “teammates”?
To Aly Raisman’s parents, I offer a heartfelt slow clap. Check all the boxes in things done right. Successful? Check. Leader? Check. Sportsman? Check. All the best things? Check. Check. Check.
How many of us parents entering into back to school pray for the same report from teacher? We pour our hearts and souls into these wonderful, wicked, weird human beings and after a summer of driving us crazy and pretending they’ve never abided by a rule, they go back to school. Like Aly’s parents, I watch Ryan and Sean leave with my hand over my eyes, fingers offering a very slight peek. And I know I have great kids. For reals.
Back to the Olympics: I am so grateful for the personalities that played out and offered me, and millions of other parents, teachable moments. For example:
The Phelps: Micheal Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. And my sons enjoyed his impressive run in this year's games. For my money, Micheal is my favorite, FAVORITE story, because there is nothing I love more than a redemption story. Michael, always awesome, hit rock bottom with addiction and CHOSE to FIGHT back to use the gifts God gave him. Dear Ryan and Sean, take note….
The Simone: Excellent is excellent. I have always believed people are born with gifts and it is a HOLY act to behold them executing their gifts. Micheal Phelps was born to swim. Mother Teresa was born to minister. David Beckham was born to play soccer. No one ever has been born to be a better gymnast than Simone Biles. Ryan and Sean: this girl wasn’t born into the best of circumstances. When God placed her in the right path she worked hard and she worked hard and she worked HARD. And then when her hard work paid off with success, she celebrated her teammates and had class. Viva. La. Simone.
The Lochte: I have to bury this in the middle to not end with negative. At the beginning of the Rio games, when Ryan Lochte came out with his bleached hair, my Ryan asked, “ Am I the only one that finds Ryan Lochte unlikable?” The events surrounding Mr. Lochte and the vandalism in Rio sicken me. What I want Mr. Lochte’s antics to teach my sons is, don’t hang around with bad eggs and Ryan Lochte has proved to be a bad egg. I’m actually sorry for his compadres caught in the madness. . If you look for trouble, you find it.
The Gabby: So social media buried “crabby Gabby”. What an absolute shame. Gabby Douglas won gold for USA in London and did with absolute class. Gabby was a contributing part of the “final five” and mentored and celebrated alike. To Ryan and Sean: be classy and be yourselves. Social media is an unkind, disparate, uninformed jury. Know who you are and what you contribute, like Gabby, and don't worry about anything else.
The Kerri Walsh- Jennings: Finally, cheers and bravo to Kerri Walsh Jennings. As the most decorated beach volleyball Olympian, she and her partner lost the gold medal round in a shocking upset. Her and her partner admirably battled back to win the bronze medal. The sound byte I wanted Ryan and Sean to hear after Kerri lost the gold medal match to Brazil was, “I am a blessed woman. This loss makes me no less blessed.”
The Olympic Spirit: there's nothing like it. I am so pleased to have that spirit so ever present in this back to school season that requires the toughest guts and the hardest hearts. Parents: you belong on a podium for bravery, grit and belief in the “relay team” that will receive your child.
Good night and God Bless!