There is a hardcore obstacle course event my daughters, my son-in-law, and many of Jim's and my nephews—and thousands of other unrelated but equally crazy competitive athletic sorts—hope to one day run. The Tough Mudder adventure series bills itself as "probably the toughest event on the planet" and it looks like this:
Last week I ran my own Tough Mudder of sorts. I call it the Tough Grand Mudder. It was a test of stamina, strength, grit, grace, and ultimate grandma skills as Bubby and Baby Mac, along with their parents, traveled over the river, through the woods, out of the desert and up to the mountains to spend the Christmas holiday at Gramma's house. Those who run the Tough Mudder have their strength and stamina tested in one day; this grandma's event ran pert near six days. (Take that, Tough Mudders!)
For much of the Tough Grand Mudder I was merely a secondary team member for when Megan was around, she served as Ultimate Champion and I her wingman. There were, though, many events I ran alone, as Megan and Preston took Gramma up on offers to babysit while they participated elsewhere in shopping, dining, happy-houring, and movie-going events. Whether running solo or accompanying Megan, fact remains that for nearly six days I braved not mud but harrowing liquids of another sort spewed, spilled and squirted from a three-and-a-half-year-old and a seven-month-old, in addition to braving obstacles and challenges sure to trip up even the most built and most brave of the Tough Mudder competitors.
A small sampling of my Tough Grand Mudder challenges:
• The solo event of spooning pureed bananas into the mouth of the youngest grandson while the other called from the bathroom, "Gramma, I'm done, I need wiped" then dashing to do the wiping, washing hands, and racing back to the child left alone in the highchair in record time.
• Tag-team bath time of two kiddos in the tub, Mommy doing the scrubbing and shampooing while Gramma photographed the session, then the hand off of Mommy taking youngest, Grammy taking oldest, then getting both dried, lotioned, dressed while the desert-bred babes shivered. (One run-through featured more liquid than inticipated—due not to the bath water but to a delay in diapering.)
• Another solo event requiring Gramma to entertain oldest grandson while changing a disgustingly stinky diaper on the baby then dash up a flight of stairs, out the front door, off to the garbage can to dispose of the disgustingly stinky diaper outside as it reeked far too much to keep inside then race back with mind-blowing speed in hopes of getting down the stairs before Baby Speedy Gonzalez entered unsafe zones of the family room. (Yes, baby could have been toted for the trip outdoors but with temps below freezing, that wouldn't be a wise route to take.)
• A family event in which all but baby sit down for dinner in the dining room and take turns taking a bite then quickly dropping utensils and jumping up to move baby away from the Christmas tree in the adjacent living room. Bonus points went to Gramma, Daddy, and Aunt B for being the only ones to actively participate in this event.
• Another solo event of attempting to make breakfast while oldest grandson requested every pot and pan (plus a few bowls) along with magical mixing utensils for banging then proceeded to set up a baking-and-banging shop for himself and his brother at Gramma's feet in the kitchen.
• Cleaning up after holiday meals while dodging a three-and-a-half-year-old racing through the living room, dining room, and kitchen while pushing his monster truck in the noisiest Monster Truck Race of the Century. Required consistent "Ready...Set...Go!" starting-line shouts from Gramma (and others) as well as appropriate cheers and awarding of trophies at the finish line...again and again and again.
• Feeding the baby a bottle while, for the three-and-a-half-year-old, making popcorn in Gramma's old-timey popcorn machine, serving it up in festive popcorn cups, and getting a sufficiently attention-grabbing flick going on the big screen. Another solo event—one in which feeding the baby his bottle was put on hold far more often than he appreciated.
• Non-stop chasing and non-stop redirecting of the quickest seven-month-old non-stop crawler, non-stop climber, non-stop curiosity seeker this grandma—probably this entire country—has ever seen.
I did all those events. And more. Maybe not with the best time, maybe not with the greatest of grace and ease, but I did them. I admit there were a few major events outlined in the original course that I couldn't fit in—making a snowman with Bubby, taking him to the PJB restaurant and to the soda shop, to name a few—but I completed the majority of the course as originally set. And—something I'm sure Tough Mudders cannot lay claim to—I even managed to get a blog post published each and every day during the event.
Competitors who complete the Tough Mudder likely get a T-shirt, possibly a medal, and they surely leave exhausted but with an immense sense of incredible accomplishment. I was handed no T-shirt, no medal for completing the Tough Grand Mudder. My rewards were far better—hugs and kisses, "I love you"s and "Thank you"s and giggles and grins galore. Plus photos, lots and lots of photos. And I, like the Tough Mudders, was utterly exhausted at the end but felt an immense sense of incredible accomplishment.
I've heard—and have seen in my daughters—that participating in running events and athletic challenges can be addicting. I now understand the addiction, the attraction. There's another Tough Grand Mudder event scheduled for the end of January, this time in the desert. My battle cry? Sign me up! I'm one tough grandmudder and I'm ready for more!
What was your biggest challenge over the holidays?