Living on the thin margins – professional sports and parenthood have a lot in common

Despair: Rafael Nadal recreates what I looked like when Eden woke up in the middle of the night ready to party. Photo: AP/Andy Brownbill Photo by Andy Brownbill

Why putting a toddler to bed and winning the Australian Open are pretty much the same thing

I – of course – watched almost every minute of the epic Australian Open men’s singles tennis final on Sunday night, even though it ended late into the morning.

As a sports fan who has regularly consumed every free minute of the Tour de France and every Australian overseas cricket tour with cloudy eyes – and moved on to the similar late-night experiences of parenthood – I don’t had no fears about my ability to function in society at large once the sun came up on Monday morning.

But as I sat glued to the screen, marveling at my partner Grace – who pulled off a valiant change of just over four sets – and the Twittersphere about the Herculean battle unfolding before our eyes, I vividly recalled the battle of trying to get our toddler Eden to bed at night.

The tactical pinball between Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev was a sight to behold, and as they grew weary the duo increasingly sought out the best margins across the width and length of the pitch.

It was these thin margins that were highlighted for Grace and me last week when Eden fell asleep at 6:45 p.m. – just 15 minutes before her optimal bedtime.

I felt uncomfortable at the time, but she was tired and I decided to let her kiss sleep even though I knew it might come back to bite us later.

It was comfortably the moment I failed in the tactical pinball stakes.

Sure enough, the clock ticked until morning and there was Eden, initially lulling us into a false sense of security with an easy cross forehand in the form of a trip to the bathroom.

Our answer of “good night again” sailed well on the net for what we hoped was a clear winner.

We never saw the drop-shot coming.

Coming out of the dark with an “I’ve got beans” – her way of saying she has too much energy to fall asleep – Eden continued to stay up for nearly two hours before finally returning to her slumber. .

It would be easy to describe my elation at that moment as similar to Nadal’s emotional release at the end of the fifth set on Sunday night.

It’s quite remarkable that if Eden closes her eyes at 7:02 p.m., she’ll be depressed for the evening, but around 6:56 p.m., she’s more than likely to wake up from a “long nap” in the middle of the night.

But I guess Medvedev can sympathize on the subject of thin margins, being two sets, 3-2 games and 0-40, and moments away from a truly unassailable lead.

He too couldn’t finally rest until a few hours later, defeated but ready to try his luck again soon.

Tyler Maher is the editor of Shepparton News.

Huzzah: Rafael Nadal celebrates like me when Eden finally went back to bed. Photo: AP/Simon Baker Photo by Simon Baker

Sara R. Cicero