My Parenting Career as a Track and Field Meet

The first three months were the marathon. People threw water and food at me and I tried to consume it while still moving and not throwing up. I didn’t sleep, or I slept the sleep of the perpetually interrupted; one hand on the diapers, the other draped artfully over my giant boobs.

The first baby’s first year was a series of 5K runs; seemingly endless but at the end of the year, as I got more proficient, they seemed suddenly so short. The more I did, the better I got. By the end of the year, I was even smiling as I ran.

Toddler life was the shotput. Haul off and try this technique. That one doesn’t work. Does this one work?

Toddler life plus pregnancy was whatever event I come in tenth at.

New baby plus toddler = triathalon. All the marathoning, plus I’m on a bike now? And also swimming? I’m changing my clothes a lot. Also I was wet and sweating and exhausted all the time, and changing my mind every three kilometres/minutes about whether it was the best or worst idea to have children.

Then I was doing those 5K runs again, but with a 9 month old bouncing against my chest. There was also some javelin tossing to get my preschooler to come back from the side of the road because I couldn’t be there to grab him because the baby was eating dog poop off the grass. No, not really.

Since both children became verbal and not-idiotic w/r/t eating poop off the grass, I stopped doing as much running after/for them so I thought the track meet was over but actually I am still tired a lot of the time and I realized two things: 1. mental exhaustion can be just as bad as physical. That’s the kind that comes from talking all day and explaining things and trying to disallow behavior while still allowing feelings except you might also have some feelings NOT THAT ANYONE CARES and also the thing with two children at different ages is if a 4.5 year old says “I’m going to smash your face into the cement,” you DON’T react because he’s just pretending to be a tough guy, but if the 6 year old says it you have to pay attention and take his brother’s face out of his hands. Re: the cement, not OK.

So 2. school aged children are the hurdles event. You’re concentrating on getting around the track and then another hurdle appears in front of you and you have to use some crazy random thigh muscles/psychological technique to get over the stupid thing and then you hurt for a week because who uses that muscle? Nobody who isn’t twenty years old! Or, if you don’t clear the hurdle, you fall on your face and cry. Get back up. And keep running, around that dusty track, leaping when warranted, enjoying that you are in the best shape of your life.*

* Or possibly just a few years from a full physical breakdown. Ha ha ha! Probably not.

2 thoughts on “My Parenting Career as a Track and Field Meet

  1. Nicole

    This is great! Love it! Of course, track and field was the worst thing for me in school – I was bad at every single event. That feels like a metaphor.

    1. Amber

      I was bad at every single event, too. For a while I thought maybe I could do hurdles, because you didn’t have to be that super-fast, but then I realized I was 5’2″ and I didn’t have a hope of clearing them. Sigh.

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