The Time My Mother Was Michael Phelps

Growing up, I would hear stories of amazing physical feats of motherhood like when a mom would lift a refrigerator to save her impaled child’s life. I actually witnessed my own personal case of maternal super power when I was about 10.

This was in the summer of 2004 and Michael Phelps had won his 8 gold medals in the olympics for various swimming styles. My family had been watching the olympics that year at a little beach house that we rented in Cape Cod, MA. Dad would work in the mornings and the rest of the family (siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles) would stay back and hit the beach.

I would ride my skateboard to the beach, swim, play in the sand, and come home and skateboard until the sun went down. Most of the summer flew by and consisted of the same shenanigans…with the exception of the llama, the hurricane, and the time my mother used her maternal powers to transfigure into Michael Phelps.

Let me explain…

The Llama: 

Someone on our street owned a llama, and when I was skateboarding one day, I heard a loud galloping noise approaching me and getting louder. When I turned around, I was surprised to find a frantic little girl chasing a 7 foot tall llama down the street.

By the time my head had processed what was happening, the llama had run past me and that was the last I saw of it and the girl.


The Hurricane:

That year, we were hit by the remnants of some classification of extreme weather, and I don’t recall whether it was a hurricane or a tropical storm. The storm brought in some very powerful rip currents, which is information necessary to establish how impressive it was when…

My Mother Was Michael Phelps: 

One day we bought an inflatable life raft (for two), and although waves on the coast of Massachusetts are not famed for their size, the surf was as big as it ever got. This was earlier in the week, prior to the storm, and as an uninformed and overly confident 10 year-old, I thought that I would brave the stormy waters and surf my oversized raft.

The sun was out for the majority of the day, but it wouldn’t be a dramatic story if the clouds didn’t start to roll in as rowed myself out into the ocean. I headed toward a nice wave to take me back, but just rolled right over it as I was pulled slightly farther to the outside of the waves. Upset about my missed effort I gave it another go, but missed the next wave, once again getting pulled farther into the ocean.

I kept rowing, but my efforts were thwarted by what I now understand to be a powerful type of current pulling from shore, out to the open ocean known as a “rip current”. As the diagram demonstrates, you swim parallel to the shore to get out of one of these. I didn’t know any of this.




I started panicking after realizing that I was now hundreds of feet off shore and had tired myself out trying to row this boat back against a rip.  My mother, noticed that I was panicking and drifting to sea, and that was when it happened. She turned into Michael Phelps.

Micheal Phelps



In true supermom, fashion she jumped into the water with a boogie board, used the power of the rip current to swim to me in record time, and grabbed the boat.

My little 5’6″ mom, who didn’t even swim for sport, managed to tow a two person boat with a small child in it through a rip current (yeah she didn’t even swim out of it) all the way back to shore where she then told me to get out, gave me a boogie board, and pushed me into a wave that would carry my exhausted body back to the sandy beach.

That day my mother saved my life. She put her life on the line for me and I think that’s pretty cool.



Happy Mother’s Day to all of the supermoms out there.

Especially mine <3

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