I strongly encourage all you wives of athletes to time your pregnancies in accordance with the Olympic schedule.
My husband was a competitive swimmer for the majority of his life. When I say that he was a competitive swimmer, I don't just mean that he liked to race. I mean that he was one of the best swimmers around when he was doing it. He flew all over the damn country to train. He was courted by god knows how many universities. He was contracted by the US to coach a swim team in South Korea. He almost, ALMOST, qualified for the Olympic team tryouts countless times. I have binder on top of binder full of newspaper clippings featuring him, and box on box of medals in my basement. He still holds records in his hometown swim club.
I was not a competitive swimmer growing up. I was not a competitive anything growing up, honestly. Last time I checked, proselytizing wasn't was Olympic sport, but you never know. If speed-walking counts, maybe they're open to other ideas. Proselytizing is way harder than speed walking anyway.
Needless to say, the Olympics mean different things to The Donor and I, but we are united in the fact that we are both totally useless around here for two weeks solid, every even year. It means something in our house, something more than just entertainment. It means possibilities, the almost.
The almost is the hardest thing in the world to let go, if you ask me.
He watches the Olympics and he critiques strokes, he admires speed that was unheard of 15 years ago when he was swimming; he, I think, takes a little bit of pride in his sport, because he feels like he was a part of all that, that it's still his.
I watch it and I imagine every single one of my kids on that screen, on those starting blocks, on those balance beams. I dream of the legacies. My family has nothing but bad teeth and debt to pass from one generation to the next. Except my father, who is arguably the greatest guitarist you've never heard of, and my aunt, who did great things in science and then chopped her head off one fall day, so no one really remembers the accomplishments anymore, no one in my family has ever really done anything. No one excelled, no one sacrificed, no one dedicated themselves and pushed towards anything. THAT is not the legacy I want to pass down.
I've never seen my husband swim like he did back then, but I've seen him splash around in the pool from time to time, and I'll tell you something; some people are just born to do things. Sometimes, it's painfully obvious. I hope for my children that they find that thing, that one thing they're amazing at. I would be thrilled if that one thing was math, or science, or auto repair, so long as it fulfills them, but in all honestly, I want it to be a sport. They are athletes. It's in them. You don't have the dad they do and not be an athlete. We both go to great lengths to never, ever push our kids, but deep deep down where they can't see, I want it so badly for them, I can taste it.
So, for two weeks, I watch. I study technique, I look at form, I listen to strategy. I call my kids in from playing when the men get on the horse or the girls step up to the balance beams. I pull them into me when the guys climb up on their starting blocks and pull their goggles down, we scream together every time the USA gets a medal, and we scream even harder every time we shatter another world record.
Because, in my house, we're doing it together, those people on the TV and us. In my house, in my heart, those Olympians are blazing trails that my kids will walk someday, too.
PS: If you made it through that, go read this. It's much better.