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Woman's busy life deserves a gold medal

Tracy Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

Climbing up into a chair to get a pedicure, the woman beside me is jumpy:

“I never do this,” she confesses. “Someone gave me a gift certificate, so I thought why not? But I never do this.”

Got it, lady. You're not here. I don't know who you are, or where you're supposed to be, but I didn't see you. No problem.

“I'm just real busy,” she continues, “but I thought, okay, I'll take a little time for me.”

Aha! Another mom with little kids. Trying to get out of the house and stay out of the psych ward. I volunteer the chaos that is my life, and tell her about my toddler getting out of his crib, curious if hers is doing the same.

“Well, I've got one in high school, one in college, and one who just graduated.”

Excuse me? You've got three kids that can dress, feed and drive themselves? And two of them don't even live with you? And you think you're busy?

She probably just woke up and this is her first stop. I got up at 6. I made four breakfasts, dressed two people, packed three lunches and drove to two schools. Carved a pumpkin at one, hit a book fair at the other, and then raced over here because my heels are cracking.

“I can't even remember that time when they were little,” she offers.

Really? That's hard to believe, because it's burned on my brain. I tell her what I can't remember is what my husband and I did all day before we had to change diapers and cut grapes in half. Not to mention life before marriage.

“Yeah, my daughter started her first job and has an apartment – she loves it. She says it's just like college, but with money.”

Great. Not only are your kids out of your house, they don't even ask you for money. This nail place really shouldn't give out gift certificates. I ask what it is that she's so busy with.

“I coach high school volleyball. And swimming.”

And then. Very quietly. With a glint of pride in her eye, she continues:

“That one son I was telling you about, he's a swimmer. He went to the Olympics this summer and Ricky won a gold medal.”

Ricky? Ricky Berens? Ricky Berens who won the gold medal in the men's 4x200 freestyle relay, setting a world record, Ricky Berens?

She begins to tell me about their trip to Beijing. But all I can think about is that this woman birthed and raised an Olympian.

I can't even begin to guess how many hours she logged at the pool. How many hours in the car driving to practice and meets. How much money she spent, how much sleep she lost, how many sacrifices she made to help her son realize his dream. While raising two other children. And now she's coaching other people's kids to help them realize their dreams too? She's like, the busiest person I've ever met.

“You know, Ricky climbed out of his crib when he was a baby, too…”

And just like that, she remembers. And suddenly, we're just two busy moms talking about our toddlers.

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