An Olympian Goal for a Regular Mom Inspired by Apolo Ohno

Written by Karen, a mom without a blog

Over the past two weeks I watched the NBC Olympic coverage along with millions of other regular folks around the world, marveling at the prowess and spirit exhibited by these super-human athletes. Sometime during the overwrought feature pieces on a few select Olympians, I was struck by something that was said by none other than short-track speed skater phenom, Apolo Anton Ohno. While describing his intense preparation for his sport, he explained that every night before he goes to bed he asks himself if he did everything he possibly could that day in his quest to be the best.

Wow. It takes a special kind of crazy to make an Olympic athlete. How much do they need to sacrifice each and every moment of each and every day to be the best they possibly can be in their sport?

Ohno’s words really stuck with me as a regular mom trying to get my kids AND me through the day in one piece. I mean if you REALLY want to be great at something, you should have no problem pushing yourself past a minimal or even normal amount of effort. Right?

As I reflected on Ohno’s statement over the last few days, I came to the profound realization that I wanted to start trying to instill this challenge of “did I do everything today to be the best” in myself as a mother.

What if I, as a semi-adequate regular mom, decided to ask myself every night before I went to bed, “Did I do everything today I could have possibly done to be the best mother I can be?” And if the answer is no (which of course it would always be) – I would have to be willing to follow-up with, “What can I do tomorrow to be the best mother I can be?”

But then I’m stuck. I mean, these are noble questions to ask, but I don’t want to set myself for what will inevitably be failure on a daily basis. How do you measure parenting goals and achievements? You can look at the children – but they are kids – they are intangible and wonderfully complicated. Every time they fight or throw something or talk back or lie – well, does that make the parent a total loser?

I think my expectations of myself as a mother should be high or I’m short changing my young charges in a huge, life-altering sort of way. Parenting is a daily commitment that requires sacrifice. A sacrifice of Olympian proportions!

Guess what?

This kind of sacrifice is already happening. Parents across the globe are trying to do what they can to nurture future regular humans! It’s not making the headlines, but it is more than headline worthy. The proof is all in the little things, not in that once in a lifetime slide along an icy slope, track or rink.

Back to questioning my daily success every night. I’m gong to stick to those little things in my own quest for better parenting.

I know I’m not going to get a medal for emptying the trashcan just before the waste of our lives goes spilling all over the floor…

…Or for not losing my keys for seven days straight!

…Or for arriving EARLY to pick up my 9-yr-old from ballet!

…Or for fully completing a laundry cycle (launder, fold and put away) in one day!

…Or for turning off the Olympics for 5 minutes to read a book to my preschooler!

These small victories in my daily life give me a tiny bit of comfort and peace of mind – something that ultimately translates to a less-harried, more-present mommy. Who needs a medal when you have the ultimate honor – the love of a child.

My inspiration from Ohno and the other dedicated Olympians is to challenge myself to be the best me I can be in real, tangible ways – and mentally checking in on my progress once and a while as I go along –

Which is truly the best I can do.

Now let’s put away that Caillou book so I can re-wind my DVR – Lindsey Vonn sobbing in her husband’s arms after winning the downhill never gets old!

8 Responses to “An Olympian Goal for a Regular Mom Inspired by Apolo Ohno”

  1. Michelle says:

    Great reminder! I often pray that I can be the best mom I can be, pray for patience, and pray that I can be a blessing in each one of my children's lives and my husband's life as well. I think we are all a work iin progress and if we keep striving we are doing good.

  2. Deb says:

    i do think we should give ourselves more credit for the little things we do right. my hope is that they add up in the minds and hearts of my boys.

    thanks for the reminder to always be mindful of our actions.

  3. AmyLK says:

    Very well said Lee.

  4. Lee of MWOB says:

    Oh Karen. Hope you're not discouraged by the crazy low comments on this awesome post. I love this post. I think I should win an Olympic medal every damn day of my mothering life. And I like this little mantra – Have I done everything I can today to be the best that I can be? I know that I can really get stuck on auto-pilot and think that's good enough. But I also know for a fact that I can get better at this mama thing. So why not be conscious of it and give it a try?

    Thanks Karen for this important post. You rule you average mama you. 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    Karen, a great post that I will be thinking about for awhile. I know I can do better on a daily basis and needed that reminder. Focus is a big part of it. Thank you.

  6. emily says:

    Wow! This a super reminder to really be present with the kids, not just the "do your homework, make-your-bed, quit thunking your brother" nag that I feel like I've become. It truly is easy to forget to enjoy the little moments and celebrate them! Thanks, Karen!

  7. Laura says:

    I am on my way to your home right now with your medal!!!!!!!!

    I LOVED this.
    I have been working on this very thing…and while I don't even think I have yet to qualify for the bronze, I think it is always good to push yourself to do better…to be better…to do your best.

    We may not get medals, but we also don't have to wear the ice skating costumes on National TV, and for that, my ass and I are very thankful.

  8. Suzy says:

    Those words by Apolo are inspiritional but the truth is that for every Apolo Ohno there are 2,000 Not Apolo Ohnos who are doing what they think is the best they can do. We all have different criteria for what the "best" is and for every success in every walk of life, there are just so many more failures. We just don't hear about them.

    Did Dylan Klebold's Mom think she was doing the best she could do?

    Not everyone is destined for perfection in life. We do the best we can because The Best has no definition.

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