Friday, February 19, 2010
Back -stage parent
I have Olympic fever.
Or is it malaise.
When I competed in the Olympics, a member of the first ever U.S. Womens Olympic Snowboard Team, I feigned nonchalance. I was afraid to face the true, hyper-bloated weight of it all. And, surprise surprise, I crashed and burned, as they say.
Now, as a spectator, as a washed up former athlete, sitting home with her children, I am vicariously riveted to certain people who come to the Olympic games knowing exactly what they want and exactly how to get it.
Lindsey Vonn comes to mind.
It's not every day when an athlete comes to the Olympics expected to win, and actually does. Which is why I am so impressed, truly intrigued by, and, yes, envious of, Lindsey Vonn. Dig a bit deeper and it might actually be her Chiclet white teeth I'm envious of. I don't know.
I was interested to read that she has essentially been raised on a strict diet of dangling Olympic carrots. Her parents had a plan for her. She apparently agreed with the plan, starting at age 3, and, step by step, they followed it through.
That baffles me as a parent, and it baffles me as an athlete. I don't come from that kind of ambitious, single-minded stock, I guess. I skied because it was fun. I snowboarded because it was even more fun. The Olympics was an unexpected by-product of blindly following my bliss.
I don't have any regrets, really. Just the occasional questioning, what if? What if I had had the chance to start snowboarding as a child, rather than a lost, 21 year old woman?
What if the Olympics had been in the picture from day one, rather than popping into the screen right when I was contemplating retirement? What if?
And what do I want for my children? Despite the amazing sight of my oldest daughter's Greek Goddess-like athletic body, and my frequent visions of her in full hockey gear, with USA emblazoned on the chest, or speeding down an icy mountain in a speed suit, I don't think I could ever have the discipline or zeal to "orchestrate" her rise to stardom in any sport. Or could I?
I'm curious about Vonn's four other siblings. Were they given the same opportunities to succeed? Did they have to put their passions on the back burner? Are they bitter? How does that all work?
I can't answer any of that right now. But since Esther is already 8, the age Vonn was already spending summers at on-snow training camps, it's probably unlikely.
I have to say I was kind of disappointed to read that Lindsey Vonn doesn't eat dessert. That is one of the things I remember as being a major bonus of all that working out and that ridiculously efficient lean muscle mass that came along with it. I ate what I wanted, and didn't really think about it. It made putting up with all that lactic acid worthwhile.
Yet another thing that sets me apart from Lindsey Vonn, I guess. And perhaps the reason Sports Illustrated never approached me to do a swimsuit issue. Not that I would have. I don't think. Or would I have?
Regardless of how I feel about these amazingly gifted female athletes being compelled to prove their femininity every step of the way--I may ski like one, but I'm not a man, see my tits, see my ass, see my airbrushed thighs, digitally streamlined to avoid appearing too unladylike-- I still felt a rush of longing, and a bolt of inspiration when Esther announced, after watching just a few women come down the Olympic downhill course at 60 mph, "That's what I want to do."
Oh you can, Essie, you can. You can do anything. Anything.
More about my Olympic distraction here at BabyCenter.