Why You Should Never Use the Olympics to Keep Track of Time

My husband and I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night. I know that you are completely shocked by us watching anything Olympics, but sometimes we actually do watch TV together. (If this was an email or text, this would be the part where I’d put a winking smiley face.)

With the 2014 Winter Olympics now over, there were segments about the next (2018) Winter Olympics and, of course, the 2016 Summer Olympics.

You can’t help but think about where you’ll be in the next two or four years. (I have A LOT of Olympic watching to schedule into my life, folks.) How old will I be? How old will my kids be?

Sigh.

Yeah…THAT question.

For the 2016 Summer Olympics, Beezus will be home for the summer from her first year away at college. Ramona? Yeah Ramona will be getting ready to start her first year of high school. HIGH. SCHOOL.

The next time we see the Winter Olympics? Beezus will be 20. TWENTY. Ramona will (theoretically) be driving.

My head didn’t even have time to explode. It fell clean off.

This is why no one likes math. Once you learn to count, it’s all over. Counting things make you realize how awful it is to use the Olympics as a measurement of time. Or to track parenting years and milestones. It’s horrifying. I began to rethink my love for all things Olympics.

I couldn’t even help myself. When all these montages that felt like time machines floated across my TV, I looked at my husband and said “Beezus is going to be home from her first year of college when it’s time for the summer Olympics.”

He stared straight ahead at the TV for a bit and then said, “That is so sad.”

I sometimes forget how hard this is on the papas, too.

Maybe it’s good that the Olympics are over. We’ve been…obsessed. Our TV has been on so much, I think my brain is beginning to ooze out my ears. I’m also way too emotionally involved in all these athletes. And yes, Olympic math makes you realize just how fast time will fly. I don’t need any other reminders.

I can torture myself without any help, thank you.

Motherhood, Dreams…and Everything in Between

We’ve become Olympic junkies.

It’s no secret that we love the Olympics, but even with the horrible prime time delay, we find ourselves completely hooked at all hours of the day and night. I may be ridiculously excited about Team USA hockey, and our favorite player being on the team, but I have watched every event they put in front of me. (We’ve even searched On-Demand for the ones that aren’t in prime time at all.) I usually can’t avoid any of the spoilers (I’d have to stay off the internet entirely) and I’m still tense watching the amazing flip, or wipe-out or jump or goal. There have even been times where I look FOR spoilers because my heart and my stress level just can’t take it anymore. (I’m looking at you, hockey.) But I have cheered and loved every minute of it.

As much as I’ve loved all things Olympics all the time, I wasn’t expecting to be so emotionally involved in the women’s skeleton events.

I had heard of Noelle Pikus-Pace long before the opening ceremonies. I vaguely remembered her name because of other Olympics or competitions. But she lives somewhat near a certain sibling of mine, so I heard a little more about her this time around. Plus, have you seen my favorite commercial???


Last Friday, I knew all the spoilers. I had been watching AND keeping up with the news of a few different athletes or teams. I knew what was coming. My family had gone from softball practice to lessons to running a couple of errands so I had a rare evening home alone. So of course I was watching the Olympics and reading and finishing up some work.

I knew what was coming! I knew that she medaled. I knew that she won silver. I knew these things! But I watched her last run. I saw her cross that finish line, craning her neck to see the first numbers to make sure that she had won. I saw her leap up and hug her coach. But even more, I saw her climb over fencing and barriers and scale the bleachers to reach and celebrate with her family. I heard her say over and over “we did it!” as she hugged and kissed her husband. And then she reached for her children and parents and all the family that was there supporting her.

I sat on my couch so very many miles away and I sobbed. Like, ugly crying. The kind of crying you’re glad NO ONE is witnessing. Yeah…I cried like THAT.

After they had moved on to the next event, I was still a wreck. I rolled my eyes at myself. “You don’t even know her” was a thought that crossed my mind.

It wasn’t until I was trying to explain to one of my brothers why I did care so much that I got it.

I do know her. No, not personally. But I know something about her that connects us in a very small way.

She’s a mom. She was an Olympic athlete before she was a mom, but she’s a mom. A bad-ass, hard working mom who has sacrificed A LOT to live and work toward her dreams.

I’m not saying I’m anything CLOSE to an Olympic athlete (I trip over my own feet) but I do know a little bit about being a working mom.

All moms work, and work hard, but there are some special challenges when you work outside the home. Whether that be in an office or even on a skeleton track, it’s not easy. I can’t even tell you how difficult it is to miss field trips and special classroom events because you can’t get the time off of work. (Or, you know, you’re out of the country training.) The guilt and the sadness aren’t things you get over. Not really. I can somewhat understand how hard this was on her.

But, amazingly, I also was completely inspired by her. She’s a mom, yes…but she’s also Noelle. She’s a person besides mommy. She’s living her dreams. She’s kicking ass and taking names. She’s winning Olympic medals, dammit.

I always thought that I had to give up my dreams because I came into motherhood a little unplanned and a LOT early. I (we) sacrificed a lot to make sure our little family survived. (And some of those sacrifices really sucked.) But it’s important to remember that I’m still Jill. Yes, I’m a mom and a wife and a sister-daughter-friend-cousin-whatever. But also, Jill.

I’m not saying I’m training for any Olympic events (remember, trips over own feet) but I am saying that it’s okay if I have dreams of  my own. No matter how big or how small, it’s okay to take a turn and try them on for size. If nothing else, I want to show those daughters of mine that their dreams are important, even after they become moms. Even if becoming a mom is the best dream ever realized.

all the roads we had to walk are winding

The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is sad and happy and certifiably crazy. You just never know what Jill you’re gonna get.

But here’s the thing: I’ve woken up a lot of feelings and emotions this year. A lot of it surfaced when I wrote my LTYM piece. And then it continued to surface as I faced things that I didn’t know I needed to face. Maybe even forgive people that I didn’t know I needed to forgive. Maybe people that thought that teenage mom me shouldn’t, perhaps, keep a certain pregnancy…or maybe that I shouldn’t keep the baby. That I should give her up for adoption. And even more people that thought I shouldn’t get married.

I always thought that I wasn’t mad. But maybe I was a little. Maybe a little bit more than a little.

There were times that I worried that I was going to ruin that sweet baby’s life. We were too young…we weren’t ready. We had a lot to learn about being married and being parents all at the same time. We were ridiculously poor sometimes. We sacrificed a lot. We couldn’t give her and her sister everything we wanted to. I still have guilt and regret over the times when I have failed miserably. I worried that all those people were right. The ones that doubted us the most.

But I think now is the time that I let that anger start to go away. The anger at myself. At the other people. Because the best part of proving everyone wrong? It’s her. It is all her.

prom2
photo: sarah maren photography

I’d gloat about being right, but I don’t even know how. Because I’m just still in awe that I get to be her mom. Even after sixteen years, I can’t believe she’s mine. She is magical. She is a blessing. And she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I would go through every bit of sacrifice and hard time if it meant that I could still be her mom. Every single bit.

p&me
us…last year’s birthday party

I know I need to learn to let go. I need to learn how to let her grow up and be the amazing person that she is. But I can’t yet. I want to be selfish for just a little while longer.

promkid
photo: sarah maren photography

Because with a kid like this? It’s hard not to.

what motherhood does to your commute

I cried for more than half my commute today.

This is one of those things that you really (probably) shouldn’t admit to the internet, but there you have it. I did a lot of crying on the way to work today after I dropped Ramona off at her first day of middle school. And, by some crazy luck, I didn’t destroy all of my makeup that I had already applied. Apparently, I’m an excellent car crier. However, if you saw me crying on the freeway, please don’t tell me what that looked like. I for reals don’t want to know.

Every now and again, as it is well documented here, I have trouble with my kids getting older. I’m a big ‘ol baby about all of it and I cry just talking about it. In my defense, I spent many years being completely immune to the milestones, so I’m making up for lost time. Or I’m really just in a panic now that it’s close to sending one of my kids off to college. Or maybe I’m just the b00biest of b00bs and I cry a lot.

(I also keep typing “cry” as “cray” and I find that this blog post is trying to tell me something.)

(Also…duh.)

I had a feeling that today would be hard for me. I’m not ready to let go of summer and I’m certainly not ready for my “baby” to be this old sixth grader person in middle school. And I also had so many worries about this kid starting a brand new school in our brand new area where she doesn’t know anyone her age. She was so nervous. I, of course, don’t blame her one bit. And my heart broke about a 2,264 times when I thought about her and all her worries and fears and weird school dreams.

I’m glad that we did all that we could last night to make this morning run smoothly. She knew what she was going to wear. We went over the map of her classes and where she would need to go. We made lunches. We got the backpack all set up. We told her over and over how awesome she was. And reminded her again and again how much we love her.

firstdayofsixthgrade
Hurry up and take the picture, mom.

And honestly? She did great this morning. She was nervous and couldn’t eat her breakfast, but she had a great attitude and a smile on her face. We parked about a block away so that we could all walk her up, and she kept grabbing my hand over and over until we got closer to the school buildings. I worried that she would feel embarrassed holding my hand, but she didn’t. And when we got closer to the school, I just let my hand rest on her back so that she didn’t have to worry about pulling her hand away or making me feel bad. She walked into her “homeroom” class and the three of us walked away.

So…yeah. I cried while I drove to work. And then I scolded myself because driving while crying is not the safest way to travel. I thought about how blessed I am and how grateful I am for these amazing kids that I have. And I tried to focus on all the gratitude as I turned on the radio to try to distract myself. I was flipping through the different channels when I heard a Steve Miller Band song that I used to sing (the chorus) to her because it’s one of the nicknames I call her. It’s not a song that gets played very often, so I kinda chuckled to myself. The song after that is one she really liked when it came out. So I smiled.

But then in an unexplainable coincidence (or maybe and probably not) on the same radio station, Joan Jett started playing. Blame Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, but I will never (EVER) forget how much my kid loved “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and how she would sing it at the top of her lungs. And as the song played while I was driving on the freeway, I pictured six-year-old Ramona singing her guts out as she battled it out on Guitar Hero. So it will surprise no one that the crying resumed at that time. In a very ugly fashion, I’m sure.

Everyone is quick to tell you how hard it is to be a mom and how fast time flies by. But it’s amazing how none of us really listen. We always roll our eyes and say “yeah, yeah…I know” as we clean up after the kid that just dumped cereal on her head. We ignore the warning as we drive all over God’s green earth taking each kid to their various sports practices. And then all of a sudden, you drop your kid off at her first day of sixth grade and a Joan Jett song has completely ruined you AND your makeup.

It is both wonderful and awful all at the same time. And, my goodness, is it hard.

You are not going to believe me, but I swear to you that the universe, God, and the radio station wanted to make this story a good one. Or they just wanted to see me cry a lot this morning. It’s probably the crying, but as I finally start to laugh at myself, and turn onto the street where my office is, Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” started to play. I shit you not.

I laughed just as much as I cried.

And then vowed to start listening to a new radio station starting tomorrow.