The Parenting Olympics

The Parenting Olympics

I sat in the hospital waiting room trying to breathe through the contractions. They were getting ever closer together, a signal that I should check in at the admitting desk. However, it was just past 11:00 p.m. If I checked in before midnight, my insurance would count that day as a full day’s stay of the three allowed for childbirth. If I could hold off for just another hour until the clock struck twelve, I could stay another day in the hospital before returning home to care for three small children.

My hubby and I parked ourselves on the most comfortable sofa we could find. {Not that hospital waiting rooms boast the cushiest of couches!} And I kept breathing.

And watching the clock.

To pass the time, we watched the big TV perched up in the corner of the room. The 1998 Winter Olympics had just gotten underway in Nagano, Japan. I tried to concentrate on the swirling and twirling of the graceful figure skaters up on the screen instead of the fierce pulsing I felt in my abdomen.

Then, once the clock struck midnight, we checked in, settled in our room and spent the next nine hours bringing 9 pound 4 ounce, 21 1/2 inch Spencer Sanders Ehman into the world; a baby who ate round the clock, “talked” non-stop and completely stole my mama heart.

Sixteen years later, my “baby” is now a six foot two inch, nearly 300 pound offensive tackle on the high school football team. He still talks incessantly, can often be found raiding the pantry or fridge and hasn’t given me my mama heart back yet.

His {and his siblings} love of sports has over the years found me attending many athletic events, fanny parked in the bleachers, cheering loudly. Kids need cheering.

So do we parents.

Over 23 years of mothering has convinced me that we parents are often in dire need of a little rooting on too, for we all are participants in the Parenting Olympics. The events in this contest {all by the same names as the actual athletes’ events} include:

Ice Dancing

This event happens in the middle of the cold night, mid-winter, when the furnace is cranked down to save money. Due to the lights being off, the shivering parent inadvertently steps on a conglomeration of stray Legos thereby resulting in an entertaining, although unplanned, dance.


This occurs in families with female offspring. It starts with foam pink beauty items twisted tightly in damp hair and left on through the night. It then progresses to irons and hot rollers and the occasional blow-drying gadget purchased after an infomercial promised bouncing, twisty results. {NOTE: The infomercial lies.}


All sorts of shooting occurs in the life of a parent. Shooting a prayer for a much needed nap while the newborn sleeps. Shooting peas and carrots into the mouth of an uncooperative toddler. Shooting a quick text to a teen to let him know that it is almost curfew time. And, of course, the oft used tool of “shooting the look” to inform your offspring that their behavior in the current public setting is not acceptable so they should “Knock it off already!”


Many opportunities for boxing present themselves. Boxing lunches. Boxing birthday and Christmas gifts. Boxing up various art projects and school reports for future enjoyment. Boxing up leftovers into Tupperware containers. And, of course, the occasional sparring that goes on between mom and dad as they fight over who will get up with the sick toddler in the night. Again.

Water Polo

Water Polo is the phenomena that occurs when the conniving kiddos rig up a secret sprinkler in the front yard that douses dad with a blast of H2O when he returns home from a golf outing dressed in his best Nike polo shirt.

Rhythmic Gymnastics

This is the series of contortions a mom must perform in order to change a wriggling toddler’s diaper. In the back seat of the car. In the dark. At 70 MPH. {Yes. All at the same time!}

Short Track Speed Skating

The cyclical path parents take as they race around the downstairs trying desperately to pick up the place when Grandma and Grandpa call unexpectedly announcing they are dropping by with candy for the kids. NOTE: It also refers to the path said kids take once all the sugar has been consumed and the grandparents have left. It may or may not include additional bouncing off the walls.

Regardless of the place in which each parent finishes, all contestants in the Parenting Olympics will be awarded a gold medal. It comes in various forms including sloppy oatmeal kisses, scribbled construction paper Valentines and hugs from 6 foot 2 teenagers smack dab on their 16th birthday–a prize I’m off to collect right now.

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  1. Wow Ms. Karen, this was wonderful.

    I never thought of parenting in this light. When I think of sport and parenting or motherhood, I think of the marathons. However, unlike the 26 miles, a mother’s race stay the moment she finds out she is pregnant and continues until the day she leave this earth.

    Peace to you.

  2. You are a blessing, Karen! I love the Olympics and ADORED this article! Certainly, I am a GOLD medalist by now, as are all of us:) Thank you for your sweet word today!

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