How to Survive a Personal Crisis Part 5: Fight Death
There is no one — No. One. — who obsesses over the olympics like my mom. I’m honestly not sure if she identifies more with the athletes or with their moms. Of course, any identification with the moms is utterly vicarious; she’s the mom of a blob.
I didn’t need Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan to tell me that these P&G ads are downright gut wrenching. Of course they are. We all know that. But for the first time since the household goods conglomerate has been torturing us all with these tear-jerkers, I reflexively saw her — my mom — as the athlete and not the mom.
My Non-blob Mom has been an athlete all her life. In the pre-blob era, she was a competitive swimmer through high school and college. From my earliest memory, she was a tennis player. Like, a killer tennis player. I remember her returning from international tournaments with trophies my Superfan Dad would jokingly fill with ice and use to serve champagne.
Later, she returned to golf — a game she’d loved as a kid. She’d play with anyone who’d agree to, and frequently she’d book two tee times in a day. My favorite, though, were days she’d play with her posse of guy friends. Hitting from their tees. For money. She’s still got a mason jar stuffed with their begrudging bills because, I think, winning it was so much more fun than spending it ever could be.
“She did what we’d always hoped she’s do: carry on.”
Anyway, it turns out that you can’t have it all ALL the time, and my Non-blob Mom hasn’t basked in the athletic glow for quite some time. (Needless to say, the vicarious glow of mothering a middle-of-the-pack Triathblob is probably less than sustaining.) As it happens, I think she might be in the fight of her life. That may be an over-dramitization (in which case, I totally blame you, P&G), but I really don’t think so.
I can’t help but hear Shelley Rudman’s mom: “It was horrendous to see her in such pain;” “She did what we’d always hoped she’s do: carry on.”
***You’ve been mercifully spared my hack graphic imploring you to Keep Calm and Mom On. You’re welcome.***
And this kid, at 0:23, just wracked with physical pain, mental anguish, emotional rupture. He looks just like her. But who’s the mom then? Who’s the one to soothe?
I want that for her, but I don’t know how to do it. I want her to feel comforted. But that’s not all. I want her to feel empowered, in-control, uplifted, energized, motivated, and capable. I want for her what Amy Purdy has.
“I’m learning how resilient I am.”
She says: “I’m learning how strong I am,” and “I’m learning how resilient I am.” I want her to have for herself the vision that Amy has. (Not the part about carving down some mountain on a greased snowboard; she’d hate that.) The vision of something she loves, something that gives her faith, whatever that is. The taste of hose water? The thwack of an expertly driven golf ball off a new club’s sweet spot? I don’t know what it is, but somewhere in there she does.
Think of that. Have faith in that. BE that.
Of course I know I’m not the mom. I know, too, that this directional flow of our relationship – me to her – really isn’t what these ads are getting at. But I do think they’re striking out for the would-be Olympian in us all; the fighter; the one who carries on. And that definitely is her.
A would-be Olympian.
The one who carries on.