I never thought I would be using a sports metaphor to describe my life, but alas here I am (never thought I would be using the word alas either but anyway).
I have recently come to the realization that parenting is not all that dissimilar to a relay race (if you discount the perfectly toned bodies of actual relay runners, of-course).
The warm up begins when the baby is born and may last up to a year or even more:
“Can you hold the baby while I go to the bathroom/take a shower/ take a nap/ eat?”
At a restaurant:
“Baby is crying, want to hold her while I swallow my food without chewing and then we swap?”
On the plane:
“Want to hold the baby during take-off, I’ll hold her while you eat, then you hold her while I eat and I take her back for landing?”
(For those who can’t see symbolism the baby is the baton- you have to get it otherwise the whole relay race metaphor will make absolutely no sense.)
So after the warm-up period of passing the baby to each-other and others (hesitantly in the beginning and desperately eager later on) comes the race.
For me it works a bit like this:
• Get up at 5am to exercise
• Stop by 6.15am, start preparing kindergartner’s lunch while getting breakfast ready for the kids and have some coffee and breakfast myself.
• Take a quick shower (so quick apparently that I don’t have time to shave my armpits, something that I discovered to my horror during a Barre class surrounded by a lululemon commercial…. Can I still play the feminist card? Surely it’s better than the overwhelmed mom card right?)
But I digress (which is why I could never win an actual relay race…?)
• Get kids up, take them downstairs for breakfast and pass them over to my husband
• Get back upstairs to get dressed, blow-dry hair and do make-up
• Have husband hand over kindergartner back to me to get her dressed and ready for school
• Hand husband clothes for preschooler while I walk kindergartner to the bus stop.
• Say goodbye to kindergartner while the bus-driver is now responsible for handing her over to her school teacher who, in turn, at the end of the day will hand her over to the aftercare teachers before they hand her back to us.
• Go back home where my husband and I decide who will take preschooler to school and who will be doing the afternoon pick-up.
• Take preschooler to daycare and pass him over to his teachers.
• Breathe a sigh of relief because the baton is now in someone else’s hands though you still need to keep moving in preparation for getting it back in eight to ten hours. (even the best and most devoted parents have to admit that there are mornings when they laugh as they speed away thinking “he’s your problem now suckers!”)
• Leave work to pick up baton/kids and go home where you give them dinner, do homework and play with them before baths, bedtime story and sleep. The baton passing here has to be a perfectly choreographed sprint because both runners/parents are acutely aware of the fact that the more efficiently we work together, the closer we are to the finish line.
Because that bottle of wine isn’t going to drink itself.