MOS: The winter games of motherhood

MOSphotoOctBY MARNY STEBBINS
GAZETTE COLUMNIST

Is it just me, or is there an obvious lack of diversity in this year’s Olympic games? Just like you, I patiently watched the multicultural parade of sweater vests march into the Sochi stadium, but where were the moms? I admit, I feel a little unrepresented.
Clearly, youth has its advantages (speed, agility, copious amounts of training time) when it comes to competitive sports, but I think the middle aged, sleep-deprived demographic has its own charm, and what I lack in physical fitness, I make up for in resilience. Or maybe, denial?
Either way, slopestyle isn’t the only Olympic winter event worthy of fresh attention this year. I’ve got some ideas stuffed up my own oatmeal-caked, polar fleece sleeve.
For example, van-diving.
I think I may have a well-earned edge in the competition. Sometimes hidden talents just sneak up on you, right there in the middle of your normal routine, like at the bank drive-through.
I’m not sure why, but the entire drive-through experience is a marvel to my children. The envelope shuttle dropping out of the vacuum tube never fails to entertain my sticky passengers, and they track its speed and place bets on which cartridge will drop first. Candy loot to the winner.
In fact, the whole teller window is a bit of a mystery to them. The magnitude and tint of that giant panel of glass must remind them of an aquarium, because there has been more than one whale sighting in the background. This, coupled with a hope of an old safety sucker, is just intriguing enough to make them press their steamy noses against the minivan window and let me drink my coffee without interruption.
Of course, I play along. Last summer I had my son desperately throwing rainbow fish flakes out the crack in the window in hopes of baiting the attention of the giant grouper or swordfish that must be lurking right above the speaker system inside.
“Did you see the fin, Mom?”
“Oh yeah, buddy. He’s in there all right …”
So the entertainment value and the luxury of staying in my pajamas while finishing an entire cup of coffee has made the bank the most mommy-friendly errand. Of course, the drive-through is only magical if you actually remain in your seat and … drive through.
Blame it on my stubby arms or my refusal to set down my coffee cup while reaching through the frigid window opening, but I dropped the magic shuttle, and it rolled under the van. And because I, resembling Shamu in my giant gray parka, could not fit in the available 4 inches of open door space, I was forced to pull forward in my lane where I could bend over (in my pajama pants) and retrieve the shuttle with ample room.
The following event happened quickly and I’m sure, in effort of self-preservation, I have purposely blocked out some of the details. Kind of like childbirth.
This is what I remember:
Spotting the shuttle under the van.
Swearing like a sailor into my scarf.
Hoping I was beyond the reach of the security camera.
The sounds of metal snaps scratching the ice.
The gratifying hold of the plastic money shuttle in my hand. Just like an Olympic baton, I’m sure.
But, I was stuck. Like the wicked witch with ruby slippers.
And all of the tellers (and fish) saw and heard every pathetic, though I’m sure entertaining, detail and sent two very nervous bank employees in brightly colored ties to fish me out.
And as I was lying there, teeth to the dirty ice, I was strangely calm.
Blue knit with red stars? Or maybe red and white chevron? No Bald Eagles for sure — they would look so aggressive in cable knit.
These are the absurd places my mind ventures when desperately trying to salvage self-respect from the underside of a minivan. Sweater and hat combinations for the winter Olympic team kept me happily distracted long enough to be safely pulled out from behind my front two snow tires. One needs to completely disconnect from reality when two strangers are counting down “3…2…1…Heave!” in reference to your backside.
But the glory of our team (the frightened tellers and I) when I took my first breath of freedom was exhilarating. Standing up on that podium, I mean, drive-through curb, I felt victorious. Well, until I realized I didn’t win.
No, I really, really lost that round.
Eat your heart out Sage Kotsenburg, I’ve got all kinds of untapped talent waiting for an outlet. Maybe next time I’ll bring my scuba suit and venture inside. Motherhood is extreme, games or not.

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