I originally wrote this six years ago, but it’s still relevant, so I’m re-posting. Since those sixteen days in September 2000, I’ve never looked at the Olympics the same way. Maybe all the hours I spent watching them that summer ingrained the Olympics into Big Man’s subconscious. He’s just as obsessed with them as I these days.
Every two years, the Olympics comes along and we as a country seem inspired to watch sports we normally have no interest in, and we are inspired with pride in our country and its athletes. I well-remember historical Olympic moments from my lifetime…Nadia, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team (“Do you believe in miracles?”), Mary Lou, Dan Jansen, Michael Phelps…..the memories float through my mind as I sit and watch this year’s Olympics with my children. What will they remember? How will they be inspired? And with each race, each competition, I am amazed at the athletes who have spent much of their lives training for just this one moment.
I developed a special relationship with the Olympics in 2000. The Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia started two days after I was admitted to the hospital in very pre-term labor and bleeding with Big Man. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done had those Olympics not been on. I was on magnesium sulfate to slow down and hopefully stop the contractions. The magnesium did its job, for which I’m extremely thankful, however, it’s hideous stuff. I felt like my veins were on fire when that I.V. was started. It slowed everything down, especially my concentration and brain function. Big Man was not the least bit affected. Anyways, reading was out of the question…my brain couldn’t focus long enough to get through part of one sentence much less an entire book. Projects of any kind were not on the list either. Conversations were hard to carry on. About the only thing I could do was watch TV. I’ve never been a huge fan of daytime television. It just doesn’t do it for me. But I was stuck in the hospital, attached to two I.V. poles, ordered to stay in bed. So I watched the Olympics. I watched nearly every televised moment of those Olympics, and then saw all the replays on the morning, evening, and late night news. Between that, the Today Show, Rosie, and Oprah, I got through each day slowly but surely. I gave birth to Big Man the day before the Closing Ceremonies.
Now Big Man has heard his story a million times. He’s heard me speak of those Olympics helping me through each day, but he didn’t really understand what the Olympics was, much less the role it played in our lives those sixteen days in September, 2000. The last Summer Olympics, we watched a lot of the events. He sat with me during much of it, and finally put it all together. I think the Olympics will always be a special tie between Big Man and me. He’s watched a lot of this Olympics as well. I wonder if he is inspired. I know I am.
I’m inspired by these athletes, but also by their parents who give up so much of their time and resources in support of their childrens’ dreams. I’m inspired by the hours and hours of training. And my thoughts turn to inspiration in general. I’m a sappy mom, I will freely admit. And I probably over think my kids’ every day lives. I put myself in their shoes often, and I’m inspired by what they get through each day. I spent much of my childhood paralyzed by fear and shyness, so as I watch my children walking into a sports practice in a sport they’ve never tried with kids they’ve never met, I panic for them. I feel my heart race. When they’re playing those sports, I take on their nerves (they seem absolutely unperturbed). When they have to read in class, or head out onto the big playground with all the other kids, I wonder what they’re thinking and feeling and if they’re scared, shy, or nervous. And don’t even get me started on Big Man. That kid does make me truly “believe in miracles” and inspires me with the fact he’s alive today, much less the normal, healthy, active, smart, funny, loving boy he is.
Inspiration comes in all forms. Those 2000 Summer Olympics were an inspiration, but that inspiration was nothing compared to what I would see and feel after Big Man was born and struggled and fought with every single ounce he had. Olympic athletes are pretty amazing, and I’m as proud as anyone of our US athletes. But my biggest inspiration sits with me each night these days watching those athletes. By that, I am truly amazed.