Sometimes our children surprise us… Wait a moment… that is a massive understatement… Who am I kidding? Our children surprise us all the time.
I am thinking about my son as I write this… he is always full of surprises. He has always been active… the fit one… a good all rounder when it comes to sport… great swimmer, brilliant skier, good at football… excellent at water polo, competent at basket ball… you know what I mean… the boy who always makes the team and plays well. He is not like me at all in this way. I hate to admit this but when I was younger I avoided sport… I did everything in my power to resist movement and the thought of a ‘team’ was my idea of hell. Swimming was an important part of growing up in Australia… racing up and down an Olympic sized pool wearing a Speedo bathing costume, plastic cap and pinching goggles was the stuff of nightmares for me… I was the girl who hid behind the tennis court when gym class was on… I was never the girl receiving the ribbons and trophies on sports day. Nothing has changed… I still struggle with exercise and if keeping fit weren’t such an important part of life… I would still be in hiding…
What a wonder and altogether unexpected pleasure it is to have a son who is so sporty and committed. Paddy has decided to compete in an iron man triathlon. Even writing that word makes me breath hard and my heart palpitate. Can you imagine this…. A 4 kilometre swim in the sea followed by a 180 kilometre bike ride up and around the hills behind Nice and then a full marathon straight afterwards… that would be 26 miles or 42 kilometres of running….The race is in Nice in the south of France, so it will be pretty, but it’s June so it will be hot. It will take about 14 hours non stop to get to the finish… I can’t even begin to imagine the physical pain he will be enduring as he competes for the finish line.
Why is he doing this? I ask him nearly every day if he is sure this is a good idea… that’s the mother talking… Of course, I am worried… physically it is an almighty challenge and as fit as he is and as hard as he is training… things can go wrong. I suggested a lesser triathlon… something shorter, more manageable… That was answered with a look that suggested that I had missed the point. Paddy is committed to finishing as a personal challenge and also to raise money for Cancer Research. One of his great friends is competing with him and he lost his mother to cancer not so long ago, so they are both determined to make a difference in a way that they can.
I admire my boy greatly… he has been working hard towards the 24th June for months and months. To say that I am proud would be an understatement… Watching your children mature and strive for greatness is both difficult and joyous. We must let them go, encourage them in their adventures, let them run their own races… It is the hardest part of being a parent… I will be in Nice, on the sidelines… heart in my mouth all day… I know that already… I will be counting down the hours for the finish and I will be hoping that he makes it without too much physical injury… but I will be thrilled and elated when he crosses that finish line… Who would have thought I would have an athlete for a son… life plays strange games.
I would love it if you would support him… I believe the more people he knows who are encouraging him, the faster he will fly…
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and thank you… xv