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Are You Competing in the Parent Games?

Photo by Kemberly Groue/Air Force

Did you watch the Invictus Games? I got minorly obsessed with them. Every one of the wounded warriors competing had the kind of inspiring back story that makes a sporting event especially exciting to watch.

It's officially summer now (or it will be in a few days), and this summer will bring both the annual CrossFit Games and the Summer Olympics, held this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Summer also brings with it this year, as every year, the Must-Have Parenting Games -- and, just like every year, I'm competing. If you're reading this, you're probably competing too. These are exciting games, but no one wants to watch them.

For most Must-Have Parents, summer is the season of the slog. We just have to get through it.

I remember when my oldest -- a very active, big personality boy -- was about 2-years-old. Even though we lived near the beach, I didn't want to take him by myself because I knew that he would take off running as fast as he could toward the water and he'd just keep on going. I knew I wouldn't be able to stop him before he drowned. "A day at the beach" was no day at the beach for me. It was exhausting. I'd truly have put it up there with an Olympic sport in terms of exertion.

Around that time, I also remember standing in a bike shop and the salesman suggesting that I buy a toddler seat to attach to my bike frame instead of the trailers I was eyeing. I stared at him, aghast. "Are you crazy?" I asked him. "He'll bounce around in that thing, knock the bike off balance, and we'll wreck!" I was certain of that then -- and I'm still certain of it now. That's just how my boy was.

Little did I know that the physical exertion required of me then was nothing compared to the mental and emotional exertion I'd have to put out in order to spend a whole summer home every day with children while my husband was deployed. Every summer with my children home all day has been hard, but the ones when my husband has been deployed have been soul crushing. I'm not being dramatic. By August during each of those years, my soul was absolutely crushed.

So now t's time for the events we MHPs have spent the off season resting and training up for.

Fortunately, I won't be competing in every event this summer, but here are some of the ones I know I'll be doing:

All Day, Every Day, No Breaks

Going To The Beach Alone With Three Children

Working From Home -- With Kids in My Face

That event goes in tandem with:

Sitting In a Hot Car In My Driveway So I Can Have Quiet Space For Work Calls

Pool Party -- Two Hands, Three Kids

Science Camp Drop Off and Pick Up Is At The Same Time And 20 Miles Away From Gymnastics Camp

Solo Adult On A 500-Mile Road Trip With Children

And, as of this week anyway:

The Air Conditioner In the Playroom Is Broken And The Kids Won't Stay In There

I'm grateful that this year I didn't qualify for this event:

The Must-Do Parent Is Deployed

And especially grateful that I didn't qualify for:

Deployment -- And A Cross-Country PCS

And it remains to be seen who will have to represent MHPs in this one:

Household Head Lice

Two years ago, I took one for the team and competed in Whole House Tick Infestation That Lasts For 16 Months and I still haven't finished the race course on There Is A Colony of Moths Living In My Car, so I'm hoping those earned me a bi on all the other creepy crawly and critter events -- but you never know. I live in Florida so I'm pretty much the Bela Karolyi of parasites and blood-sucking insects.

The MHP Olympics are drama-filled, to be sure. And every competitor has a great backstory. But there are no gold, silver or bronze medals, only participation awards -- and you only get one of those if you survive until mid-August.

The award is surviving, by the way. That's what you win. A chance to do it again another day.

Let the Games begin!

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Rebekah Sanderlin Family and Spouse Military Parenting

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Contributor

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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