Any parent will tell you that there are a lot of obstacles in raising kids. Dave Lesser tells us why it’s a lot like jumping over fire.
I’m a stay-at-home dad and obstacle course race (OCR) enthusiast. If I’m not running after one of my kids, I’m probably running in, training for, or (at least) thinking about an OCR. Other than the fact that these two endeavors take up large chunks of my time, what do they have in common? Plenty! Here is my top 10 list of ways obstacle course racing is like parenting:
1. At the end of the day everything is covered in brown. Sometimes green. Either way, it’s pretty gross. But in the heat of the moment, you don’t think about it. You just get through that shit (so to speak) as quickly as you can. You crawl under that barbed wire or after that stinky baby! And you learn the true meaning of the term “mud run” when your wee little one is leaking diarrhea and you forgot to pack a change of clothes!
2. Everyone is an expert. You tell someone you’re doing a Tough Mudder, and … Oh! They know a guy who did it and they know what you’re going to need, how you should train, and strategies for every obstacle. “My friend told me that if you bob and weave you won’t get electrocuted!” Unwanted, unsolicited advice comes even more readily when you have kids. “Excuse me. Your baby’s crying. It’s because he’s hungry.” Really!?! I hadn’t noticed the ear-piercing screaming. Hungry, you say? You mean I have to feed this thing!?! I knew I was doing something wrong!!!
3. No one else is interested in seeing all the damn pictures! If you’ve seen one idiot jumping over fire, you’ve pretty much seen them all. And if you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a lot of idiots jumping over fire. You’ve definitely seen a lot of oh-so-adorable babies doing oh-so-adorable things. And in both cases, you hit the like button (because you’re a good person) but quickly scrolled down the screen to read the hilarious eCard your cousin posted. (They’re funny because they’re true!) I’m sorry to tell you, but unless you’re the one covered in mud or it’s your baby covered in (what is hopefully) chocolate ice cream, no one else cares! (Except your parents. They love seeing pics of the grandkids and, to a much lesser extent, you.)
4. It’s all you can talk about. All obstacle course racers can talk about is their next race. Or their last race. Or the training they’re doing for the race. Or the equipment they’re using to train for their race. “Last week I had the Superhero Scramble. Next, I have a couple Spartans. I’m training with a 500 pound tractor tire, a weighted vest, and an elevation mask. I run 30 miles a day wearing the mask and the vest and carrying the tire over my head!” ENOUGH!!! Dude, didn’t your wife just give birth to twins? “YES!!! They’re adorable!!! Check out these pics I posted on Facebook!”
5. After you have one under your belt, you’re a pro! You know all that annoying advice you got before your first? Yeah, get ready to give it to the next person who tells you they’re in training or who dares confide in you that their precious bundle isn’t sleeping through the night. Hoo boy, you are now a wealth of knowledge! And you are very willing to share.
6. You really appreciate a shower. Before I was a parent, showers were purely utilitarian. Now, if I have the time, I luxuriate in there. The peace and quiet, along with the gentle massage of the hot water…it’s “me” time. (Not like that, ya perv!) I get to catch my breath in the shower. I come out a new man. After a mud run “shower,” ineffective as they may be, I feel fresh! Ready to take on more obstacles!!! Well, so long as those obstacles are: enduring a long line for my free beer, finding the right shuttle bus to the off-site parking, and locating a halfway decent diner on the drive home. And when I get home, it’s right into a real shower. And. It. Is. Amazing.
7. Impossible to know what you’re getting into. Despite all the advice you get from people, read online or in books, YOU WILL NOT BE READY FOR YOUR FIRST! No matter how much you trained at the gym or practiced with your niece, it just isn’t the same. When the big day finally arrives, you are in it! You can’t quit because you’re too tired or because nothing you do will stop the crying (yours or the baby’s). You may get support and motivation from your team or your spouse, but how you handle the situation is all up to you.
8. Through no fault of your own, something can always go wrong. Deal with it. Kids get bumps and bruises, even when you’re watching them. Just give a little boo boo kiss, pat their tush, and hope the next time they get injured is on your spouse’s watch. At OCRs, you have one shot to complete an obstacle. No matter how many times you successfully cross a set of monkey bars in practice (good thing you have a kid or you’d look like a real creep on the playground), sometimes you just slip. Do your thirty burpees and move on.
9. Duh, obstacles! The reason we do obstacle course races is for the obstacles! But there are plenty of things to jump over, crawl under, or will just slow you down when you have kids. Let’s call this your daily obs-TIKE-le race. (It kind of works.) You’re out the door, happy with your pace, and BAM, poop diaper. Stinky, but done, and no poop on the baby’s (or your) clothes! But wait, now you have to get through the treacherous lego-on-the-floor crossing. Step on one and the next obstacle is not cursing in front of your kids. Not finished yet. You still have to get over the baby gates! I’d rather climb a 9 foot wall any day; I trip over the gate every friggin’ time! And, unlike any mud run I’ve ever done, stealth can be key. I cannot think of a more difficult, more precarious obstacle in any OCR than the one that every parent knows as: “Whatever you do, don’t wake the baby!”
10. They’re both expensive, time-consuming, kind of crazy and totally awesome! Holy crap, kids cost a lot … strollers, carseats, diapers, clothes they’re constantly growing out of, toys, toys, toys, daycare, school, plus (remember, you have to feed them) all that food! Mud runs ain’t exactly cheap, either. (And there’s all that cool training equipment.) It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have kids or has never run a Spartan Race why they’re so amazing. For other parents and obstacle course racers, however, all you have to do is smile and nod as you regale each other in feats of strength and hilarious missteps. Whether you’re discussing OCRs or your kids, you’ll show off your battle scars and, of course, all the pictures you can find.
This post first appeared on Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad
Images: Dave Lesser