I spent Saturday night huddled around the television with my husband, watching intently as the women runners competed in the marathon. I dreamt that I was there with them of course, just as I had once done when I was a kid watching the girl gymnasts as they flipped around on the bars and competed in the floor exercises.
We’ve been watching the games closely this time around, allowing our four year old to stay up later a few nights to watch the opening ceremony and the gymnasts perform. I taped the runners so she could watch, them, too, and in her eyes I could see the same excitement that I know existed when I was just a young girl glued to the Olympics.
This year, though, the Olympics were just as exciting for the mothers in the crowd as they were for the daughters. While the little girls dreamt about becoming gymnasts, many athletic women I know screamed at the television as the 38 year old mother Constantina Tomescu crossed the finish line and took a gold medal in the women’s marathon.
Constantina is a mother, and she’s nearing forty, much like Dara Torres, the 41 year old swimmer that we’ve all had our eyes on.
What makes these women so special to women my age? It’s not that we want to be Olympic gold medalists at this point in life. Shoot, I’d be happy just to carry four loads of groceries, a toddler and a baby from the grocery store to the car without breaking my back.
No, it isn’t about wanting to be there, in the spotlight, as it was when I watched oh so long ago.
It’s just that I could be.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the long hours and the extreme conditions in which these women practice and work to obtain the level of fitness they have achieved. Running 26.2 miles is not an easy feat, and doing it in just two hours and some change is even more difficult. Same with swimming. These women spend hours upon hours practicing and honing their talents.
And they do it while also being mothers, and wives, and friends, and family members.
As I watched these women I realized just how much the times have changed, and how easily it is now for many women to follow their dreams, regardless of their age.
As I watched these women compete, the fact that I am a woman nearing forty struck me hard. Not in the Oh my gosh, how time has flown why do I have so many wrinkles way that it usually does. This time, it hit me in a good way.
It seems that nowadays, as we (meaning women) get older, so we get better. Stronger. More able to do more things.
We are tired, of course, because we do try to do it all. But we are achieving. Look at the fact that half of all businesses are opened by women. Look at the number of mother-owned companies that are taking the country by storm. Look at us out there doing what it is that we want to do, whether that is working from home owning our own businesses, working in an office managing a large number of employees, or staying at home with our children to run the family.