So the Olympics are a wrap. The real ones, anyway. And sitting in bed with my wife, kid and dog Sunday morning, sipping coffee and rooting Canada's men's hockey team on to glory, I was struck by a thought:
Man am I glad my daughter was paying attention to these games.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike the Olympics — blind eyes turned to human rights abuses by host countries and rampant commercialism chief among them - but when it comes to shining a light on inspiring athletes and role models, the Olympics are tough to beat.
And if you're the parent of a Canadian girl, these were a particularly damn good couple of weeks.
Canada may've come a very respectable third on the gold medal charts in Sochi but if you look only at medals won by women Canada came out on top. Who carried the maple leaf into the opening ceremonies? Canadian women's hockey captain Hayley Wickenheiser. Who carried it in for the closing festivities? Bobsled gold medalists Heather Moyse and Kaillie Humphries.
From the inspiring story of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters to the absolute domination of the Jennifer Jones rink in curling the theme of this year's winter games seemed to be Canadian girls kick ass. Even the star-studded men's hockey team took a backseat of sorts to their female counterparts - sure, the surgical precision with which they picked apart opponent after opponent on their way to gold was a sight to behold but in terms of raw emotion and inspiration it doesn't hold a candle to the dramatic, emotional come-from-behind triumph of Captain Wickenheiser and crew.
As the father of a young girl I worry about role models in all walks of life. I want her to see women succeeding and dominating in whatever they choose to do. And for the past few weeks in Sochi, the women doing a fair bit of that succeeding and dominating had maple leaves on their chests.
Thanks ladies. You did us proud.
Disclosure: This idea comes from my very good friend, Allana, who first suggested on Twitter that Parenting Olympics could totally be a thing. She suggested "wrangling kids into snow gear," "babywearing toddlers in snowsuits" and "teaching flailing preschooler to skate" as possible events. With her blessing, I ran with the idea. Allana is sweet, funny and well worth a follow on Twitter.
In case you've been living under a rock lately, the winter games are underway over in Russia. And despite serious unease thanks to nasty human rights abuses for those living in Russia as well as those just working there temporarily, I find myself coming down with a serious case of Olympic fever. I blame the Dufour-Lapointes.
And since there's a very good chance I'll never be an actual Olympian (though I do enjoy curling...) I am wholeheartedly embracing the idea of an Olympic-like competition for parents. Here then, with no further ado, are my proposed events for the Games of The First Parenting Olymp-ish-iad. And while the intention was to replicate the ongoing winter games, most of these events take place indoors because, honestly, snowsuits are a pain in the ass.
Got any other good ones? Leave 'em in the comments!
This may come as a surprise to those of you who assume I spend my days exclusively pondering the ins and outs of modern fatherhood, with an eye towards honing my many ruminations into a sharp collection of words for this very blog. But I have a day job. A career, really. One I quite enjoy.
I've spent the bulk of my professional life working, broadly speaking, in the field of communications/PR/marketing. I started out in communications at the organizational level (non-profit and public sector, mostly), but around the time my kid was born, a little more than four years ago, I jumped over to the agency side. Specifically, a digital/web agency.
It was like climbing into a drag racer in the middle of a race. The agency world moves a lot faster than organizations I'd worked in previously, and the digital world more so. We don't exactly work on the bleeding edge—the nature of our client base means we tend to work with corporations and organizations that are larger and more likely to adopt newer technologies slower, after they reach critical mass—but there's always something new on the horizon to keep track of, and learn about, for when our clients are ready.
A little more than a year ago—tired of trying to parent via webcam—I changed roles at the agency, moving off of the client team to take over marketing for the company itself. The move meant I was physically present at home more often, but over the past few months I've come to realize that physical presence isn't enough. My role changed, but the industry hasn't. I've still been white knuckling along in that drag racer. It's been exhilarating, adrenaline-inducing, and, occasionally, terrifying—all feelings I quite enjoy—but most of all, it's been mentally and emotionally all-consuming.
And that wasn't fair to my family. Too often I came home spent. I wasn't being the husband and father they deserved.
So, with Family Day approaching, I made a family-focused move and accepted an offer from an old employer to go back to the more traditional (and slower paced) communications world I left four-plus years ago. It's not that the job will be easier or less interesting, just that the pace of life is slower and the ground more familiar.
It's the first time in my life I've made a lateral career move, and it's the first time I've made a career decision based on what it means for my family instead of what it means for myself. I popped the clutch on the dragster in the interest of making sure I made it home for dinner alive and in one piece.
So, this is what it's like to be a grown up, eh?
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