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.