Sunday, October 2, 2011

18 miles. This run will not defeat me.

I’m back in the blogosphere, at last. More on that later…

In 5 weeks, I’m running the New York City Marathon. My training has not been as productive as I had hoped, but I’m racking up the mileage.

Today I ran 18 miles. And it was one of the toughest runs I’ve ever done. Not because of the distance or the hills, which were numerous, but because of everything else.

Two weeks ago, I got a new pair of ear buds – yurbuds. And they are awesome. Can’t imagine running without them.

Yesterday I broke them. Pulled the left ear cord right out of the joiner thingy. So I had to run with a not so good pair.

Yesterday I let my four year old son play with my iphone. Big mistake. He somehow managed to mess up my playlists and as I started my run, my iphone would only play 1 song repeatedly. I figured there was an easy way to fix it, but I sure as heck couldn’t find it. After listening to the same song for 20 minutes, I was ready to scream.

So I called my all-things-technical husband. He didn’t answer my 2 calls on his cell. Then he didn’t answer my two calls home. I was mad. Even Lady Gaga, over and over again, wasn’t making me happy.

Then I hit the Big Hill. And it was only mile 3. It is a huge hill. Why I planned to run it at the beginning of my 18 miler, I don’t know. I walked up. Tried to run down, but my knees were killing me, so I walked down.

I was running a new route this morning, and I had mapped it out before I left. But I couldn’t remember if I had to turn left at mile 5, or the next left a half mile up. I opted for the second left.

Mile 6, hubby finally calls back, but isn’t sure of a fix of the phone, so he advised me to listen to Pandora. Ok, I can do that.

I made the correct left and headed down “Shades of Death” Road. Yes, it’s really called “Shades of Death” Road. It’s a beautiful rural road with quite a history, ranging from murderous bandits, malaria carrying mosquitoes, ghosts and husband-killing wives.

As soon as I headed down the road, the mosquitoes attacked. I must have gotten bitten almost a dozen times in a matter of minutes. Hope they weren’t carrying malaria.

Then my blood sugar started to drop. Seriously drop. This happens to me if I don’t eat enough protein. I get shaky and disoriented. And today it came on fast. So I had to call my husband for help as I wasn’t carrying the right food with me. He wanted to know which way to come – should I go Allamuchy or should I go Great Meadows?

I don’t care, just get the f*%# here.

I passed by some fields and nearly got run over by a tractor turning in front of me.

I passed under an overpass. On the side of the road, a dead mommy deer with her dead baby deer. Baby was missing its head. Oh. My. God. I was on Shades of Death Road, after all.

Almost at mile 9, not even half way home. All I wanted to do was collapse on the side of the road in a flood of tears.

Hubby showed up with 3 kids in the minivan, protein bar in hand. Thank you. Thank you.

My eldest son asked if I wanted them to give me a ride home. That’s when it hit me.

I am not letting this road, these hills and all the other stuff beat me.

This run will not defeat me.

As I watched the van drive off, with its pink 13.1 and 26.2 magnets fading in the distance, I decided to hit the reset button. Time to start again. I was half way home. I could turn this around.

But boy was I dead. I was a more than a half hour off my goal.

But I kept going.

My body and mind kept telling me to quit.

But I kept going. My heart told me to keep going.

I walked the big hills. I couldn’t run them. But I kept going forward.

Mile 10, 11, 12, 13 passed by. Painfully, slowly. But they passed by.

Then an ambulance approached me, lights flashing. I actually seriously thought that some kind driver passing me on the road had called 911, reporting that a 40-something woman was staggering on the side of the road. But it passed me by.

Mile 14. I was running up a hill, distracting myself as much as possible from the pain in my legs and the emotional noise in my head with music screaming from my phone. As I moved my right arm back, my hand hit something furry. And that something furry licked my hand.

Now I live in bear country. I see a few each year. And I was running, alone, in bear country.

So I screamed. I screamed very loudly, thinking I had just punched a bear in the face as it came up behind me.

But no, it was a very friendly lab. A dog that I didn’t hear or see coming up behind me because I was too absorbed in my pain. Don’t worry, shouted the guy in the yard I was passing, he’s harmless.

Yeah, thanks buddy.

Mile 16. I was getting close to home. But close to home meant that everything was pretty much uphill from here. I needed Lady Gaga more than ever. So at mile 16.5, my iphone died. No more music. Great. Now I had to listen to myself puffing and panting as I limped forward.

Then I tuned out. And headed home. My driveway was in sight…I checked my Garmin, which told me that I was at 17.75 miles. I had to do 18, and I wasn’t going to skimp out on the last .25 mile. No way. Not after the run from hell. I was going all the way.

So I ran up and down my drive until the number 18 glowed on my wrist.

The run hadn’t beaten me. It came close, but I was home.

18 miles, check. I know there’s all sorts of emotional analysis I could do, but I’m too darn tired.

Can’t wait for 19 next week.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wonder - fully creative

No doubt Wonder Woman had to get creative in her crime fighting adventures.  To paraphrase, there are many ways to catch a thief, and Wonder Woman used her incredible powers to solve all sort of problems.

While I'm no crime fighter (except for brotherly crimes that take place in our living room), at last, after 41 years of trying, I'm recognizing that I am creative. 

When I was in Grade 2, we had an Easter school project.  We had to make a bunny with movable parts, using paper fasteners.  I diligently worked on that project and proudly brought it to school.  I distinctly remember that day.  I stood up to show my bunny.  The teacher laughed at it.  As did my classmates.  I was devastated.

That moment permanently etched itself in my mind, and 35 years later, I still think of it from time to time.  And I truly believe that that particular moment squashed years of confident creativity.  I described that moment at a Mom's club meeting one day, and it brought me to tears.

I have never considered myself to be artistic or creative.  I had no confidence in my drawing, coloring, or general art related abilities.  And I think it was all because of that awful second grade event.  Even at grad school in an urban design class, I was terrified and embarrassed to share my simple drawing.  All done using rulers and easy lines.

But recently, I've been seeing things in a different light. 

I've done a lot of scrapbooking since I had children (though I am years behind!).  I love the feel of paper in my hands and the designs I can create with simple cutting and pasting.  My early attempts were pretty rudimentary, but my skills have evolved over the years.  And looking through my albums, if I do say so myself, my pages are not bad at all!

And I'm now embracing another love of mine - cake decorating.  I've learned that decorating a cake is really a set of relatively simple steps. But when put together, they produce an incredible result.  Just like the brush strokes of a painter.  When taken individually, they are simple marks on a canvas.  But put together, there is a beautiful picture.

I'm finally realizing that perhaps I'm creative after all, and that perhaps I even have talent. 

I made a sandcastle cake last week for a Bar Mitzvah with an "underwater" theme.  For almost 190 people!  And I loved EVERY minute of it.   Without question.  And the pride when I delivered it was something I hadn't felt in a long time.  

I found something that I was passionate about.
That brought joy to almost 200 people.
And I was creative.

I can't believe that it has taken me over 3 decades to reach a point where I am truly proud of something I have created.  I suspect that here are many others out there who feel the same way.  We have little confidence in our abilities to create a masterpiece.

But all it takes is a few simple steps.  Put them together, and something beautiful can appear.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A quiet moment of beauty. And a woman of wonder.

Oh, dear Wonder Woman, you are a creature of beauty.  And you fight for justice, truth and innocence.  You are busy fighting the evil of the world, but I also suspect that you enjoy a moment or two of quiet.  And in your crime fighting life, I suspect those moments are few and far between.

Kind of like the life of a mother.

We spend our days breaking up fights (at least I do, with three boys!), keeping our innocent out of imminent danger (from jumping off the top of the stairs down to the tile below), making our world a better place (cooking, cleaning, laundry).  But how often do we take a moment, pause our non-stop trains of thought and endless to-do lists, and just stand and absorb what is around us?

We've had a rough winter in the northeast.  Endless snow storms, snow days, ice, wind and cold.  And last night, another storm warning, on this 3rd day of spring.  For up to 8 inches of snow. 

Great, I thought. Another snow day with 3 boys at home destroying the house and making far too much noise.  There goes my list of things that I had to get done today.

Sure enough, when I got up just before 6 to take the dog out, there was the message - one boy has school canceled, the other two have a delayed opening.  Big sigh.

Then I walked outside with my puppy.  Into a wonderland of soft snow, silence, gently falling flakes and perfectly laden branches full of beauty.

It took my breath away.

It was one of the most beautiful sights of the entire winter.  The peace told me to take it easy.  Appreciate this wonder that is nature.  Look up in the night sky and feel the snowflakes falling on your eyelashes.

Forget the to do lists and challenges that this day will bring.  At least for this moment.  And breathe in the scent of freshly fallen snow.

Do that - and then you really are a Woman of Wonder.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yes, Ma'am. I'm a Badass Mother Runner.

This week, I finally ordered the running shirt I have been salivating over for months.  It's from the gals at Run Like A Mother, Dimity and Sarah, two very inspirational mother runners who tell it like it is.  The shirt is black and reads "badass mother runner."  Sure the language may not be right for everyone, but it sure is right for me.

After all, I'm a badass mother runner.

Today I had to do an 8 mile run.  The first 3 miles were absolutely horrible.  Everything hurt.  My knees, my feet, my toes, my head.  And that voice in my head was loudly shouting "What are you doing?  Why are  you running?  It hurts so stop!  You don't need to do this!" etc etc etc.  You know that voice.

But then I looked down and saw the writing on my shirt.

Badass mother runner.

A badass mother runner doesn't quit. 
She may complain a little, but she sure as heck doesn't quit.

So I picked up my pace.  And my attitude.  
And I channeled my inner badass.

I started to think, as I ran through mile 4, what makes me a badass mother runner?  And I spent the next 4 miles coming up with the top 10 reasons why I'm a BAMR.  Here they are:

10. My runnung playlist includes everything from AC/DC to Dolly Parton to Eminem to Elvis to Madonna to the Proclaimers to ZZ Top.  And yes it even includes Miley Cyrus.  And I'm not afraid to admit it.

9.  I like to play the air drums when I run.  And pump my fist in the air.  And sing outloud.  Apologies to those who share the road.

8.  My muffin top jiggles when I run, but I run anyway.  No apologies for that.

7.  I'm 41 and I run in pigtails.  No apologies there either.

6.  When I was 2, my family survived an attack by pirates in the South China Sea.  True story.  You are automtically a badass if you fight off pirates, no matter how old you are.

5. I birthed my 3 baby boys at home, naturally, without so much as an advil.  Boy #2 was 10 pounds.  If I can push that hefty boy out, I can do anything.

4.  I took up running just over a year ago.  My first race was a half marathon.  My second race was a full marathon, which I ran in an astounding 5 hours, 28 minutes.

3.  When I was laughed at to my face for my marathon time, I stood strong because I knew I had thousands of other mother runners at my side.  I suspect that most of them are badass as well.

2.  I have 3 sons.  Enough said.

And the number 1 reason why I am a badass mother runner:

I can clean up a bathub full of little boy poop, unclog a backed up toilet, mop up a flooded bathroom all in the blink of an eye, knock down a couple of martinis and then wake up a few hours later and run 8 miles like only a badass mother runner could.

So, what makes you a badass mother runner?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wonder Woman Wednesday, Week 1 - Jiggly bits.

I realize that there are many versions of Wonder Woman - just google image her and you'll get 15 million - yes million! - different pictures.  Some are the iconic Lynda Carter in her 70s best, others the original DC Comic cartoon.  There are various, um, sexualized versions, and plenty of girls and women dressed in their Halloween finest, or perhaps not so finest.

No matter what google shows me though, I have an image in my mind of what Wonder Woman looks like - a strong, fit, confident woman.  I love the above picture, even though Lynda Carter's waist is cinched in so much that it looks like she can't breathe.

Motherhood certainly does a job on a woman's body.  Though never skinny, I used to have a good curvy figure.  I was trim and healthy and felt pretty decent in a bathing suit.

Then I got pregnant.  And gained 60 pounds.   And then lost 50.
Then I got pregnant again.  And gained 60 pounds.  And then lost 50.
Then I got pregnant again.  And gained 60 pounds.  And then lost 50.

You know what is coming excess of 30 pounds.  Plus a 10 pound baby boy - my other 2 were small, only in the mid 8 pound range -  will do a number on the ol' tummy muscles, leaving them forever stretched, flabby and rolly polly.  Muffin top central.

Add to this the fact that my husband works for a major candy manufacturer - and has access to all the free chocolate a gal can handle.  And I mean good chocolate.  The really good kind.

I've been trying to lose these darn 30 pounds for a few years now.  And the pesky things just won't go away!  I've read every diet book there is, and tried a good number of them out and failed miserably at each and every one.

I even ran a marathon last year, thinking that all that exercise would result in millions of calories burned.  Well sure those miles burned calories, but those miles also made me ravenous.  So not a single pound was lost.  Sure I had great leg muscles, but said muscles were still covered by jiggly bits.

The truth is, I love to cook.  And I love to eat what I cook.  And eat what others cook for me.  And eat what Panera Bread bakes for me, too.

And I love a glass (or 3) of cabernet.  Or merlot.  And I've rarely met a martini I didn't like.

And don't even get me started on chocolate.  Oh, the chocolate! Dark, milk, white, spicy, flavored with liqueur, in various shapes, colors and wrappers.  You get the picture.

Now it's fine for me to joke about eating and drinking, but when it comes down to it, I am not comfortable in my own skin.  And I haven't been for a while.  I know what I have to do to lose weight - eat healthy, eat less and exercise more - but it is really really hard.  I marvel at how people lose 50, 100, 200 pounds or more.  And I complain about my 30. 

Truth is, I think I've been lazy.  I know what to do, I just haven't done it.

So my first step in rediscovering my inner Wonder Woman is to give myself a kick in the pants - my larger size pants - and get to work at losing these 30 pounds.

I'm realistic about my body.  I know that motherhood and age change a body in ways that you can't necessarily reverse - without a scalpel anyway.  So I'm not expecting to look like Lynda Carter.  I just want to feel good in my own skin and not self conscious about my various jiggly bits.

So I'm finishing off my glass of merlot and getting to work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rediscovering My Inner Wonder Woman

When I was a school girl in Grade 2, one of my favorite games to play at recess was Wonder Woman.  I would put on my bullet proof bracelets, spin my Lasso of Truth and climb aboard my invisible jet, along with the other 8 year old girls dreaming of becoming Wonder Woman.  We were invincible, bringing truth, justice and feminine power to the playground. 

Fast forward to the end of high school.  About to venture into the next phase of my life - university - I was ready to seize what was in front of me.  Young adulthood, knowledge and once again, truth.  Finding my passions, determining my dreams, becoming the invincible woman - indeed the Wonder Woman - that I was destined to be. The end of Grad School brought the same feelings, now ones of mature independence, professionalism, and again truth as I began my career in Corporate America.  A future that was incredibly bright was before me.  I felt like Wonder Woman all over again.  That little child was playing her favorite superhero once more, just in a different context.  But the underlying values and dreams were there.

And now, 15 years later, I feel like my Wonder Woman is disappearing.

I left my corporate office behind 10 years ago after the birth of my first son and have been at home ever since.  Now with three boys, a husband, dog, cat, and endless loads of laundry and messes to clean up,
I feel like I am losing my inner Wonder Woman.  She has been lurking there in a dark corner for most of my motherhood years, and I feel that she is fading away.  

And I am on a quest to rediscover her.

Motherhood is truly one of the most difficult jobs there is.  We give 100 per cent of ourselves to our children.  I love my boys, they are the center of my world.  But in that world, I sometimes forget that I am there too!

Their passions have become my passions.  
My meals are often their leftovers. 
My hobbies involve writing about my children.   
My dreams have morphed into dreams for my children. 

(Plus my body has been forever changed by three pregnancies and 6 years of breastfeeding.  Changes that only a breast lift and tummy tuck will fix.  Can the real Wonder Woman mend that??)

Somewhere in my days and nights of mothering I have forgotten my own dreams, my own passions and my inner core.  I know those things - the essence of my Wonder Woman - are still there, they have just been buried under the avalanche of motherhood.

So now my search begins.  I'm giving myself four months of time devoted to this.  Time to think about my inner core and what makes me, me.  Time to rediscover my passions, convictions and hobbies.  I've put a time frame on it because otherwise I know mommy-hood will take over - my needs will fade away again unless I give myself a specific goal to work towards. 

Have you lost your inner Wonder Woman as well?  Is she lurking in the shadows? 

Or is she up front and glorious for the world to see?  If she is, please share how you found her - or never lost her! 

If you want - and need - to look for her, let's do our searching together. Let's fill our world with Wonder Women - women of confidence, beauty, strength, and truth.  Truth to ourselves and those we love most.

The re-discovery begins tomorrow, Wednesday, March 2. Here on the half full pink martini, I'm declaring Wednesdays to be "Wonder Woman Wednesdays" when we can board our invisible jets, wear our bullet proof bracelets and lasso some truth.  Are you ready to fly?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mommy sleep vs. Daddy sleep

I've always needed my sleep.  A lot of sleep.  I was an 8 or 9 hour a night kind of gal. 

Then I had kids.

I'd always heard that once you become a mother, you never sleep well again.  And I think those are true words.  The type of sleep I get now is what I call "mommy sleep."

I hear every noise, creak, groan, cough and snore that takes place in the house.  Even with with my white noise sound machine.  And I know plenty of mothers who sleep - and I use that term lightly - the same way. It's like we sleep with one ear open to hear any problems with the kids in the night.

And somehow, "daddy sleep" is just the opposite.  At least in this house. 

Case in point:  The night before last, my youngest son crept into our bed at 3am and promptly threw up all over me, my pillow and my side of the bed.  (which of course woke up the dog and the cat and got them interested in the new smells in our bedroom).  It was not a quiet event by any means, but all I got from the other side of the bed was snoring.

So I cleaned it all up, covered what I could with towels and settled back on my few inches of clean sheets with my poorly little boy next to me. Then 10 minutes later, another round of upset tummy, and then another, and another and so on until sunrise.  Getting a 3 year old to tell you when he is about to throw up is a skill I still have not mastered - even after years of trying.

And the snoring on the other side of the bed continued.  There was the occasional grunt, but never really one of consciousness.

Now I'm not knocking my husband at all.  I couldn't ask for a more involved father.  He knows when this mom needs a break and is more than happy to give it to me.  He's fully engaged in parenting and I know I am very fortunate to have him.

But he can sleep through anything, even multiple rounds of vomiting. In his bed.  Right next to him.

And I have no doubt that this mom will continue having "mommy sleep" for years to come.  So maybe I should crank up the volume on my sound machine just a little bit more.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting to know my little pea.

Thank you so much to everyone for the emails and facebook comments after I blogged last week about finding a lump in my breast. 

Just a quick update...

I had an ultra sound last week and finally (finally!) got the results today, which are of course inconclusive.  I have an "indeterminate" nodule...meaning they don't know what it is.  The advice is to wait for three months, and if it is still there, have a biopsy.

I'm not sure if I like that advice very much.  That means carrying around this little pea that is most noticeable.  To me anyway.  I know it's there.  You can't see it, but it can most easily be felt.  I find myself unconsciously touching it throughout the day (not in a Divinyls way, of course - remember that song?)

So I'm deciding what to do next.  Perhaps see a breast surgeon and get a second opinion.  Or just live with my little pea for 3 months and wait it out.  Either way, my little pea will be there for a while longer and I'll get to know it a little better. 

And I'll keep on running.  Me and my little pea.

My gut tells me everything is fine.  But I wouldn't mind being pea-less sooner rather than later.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Playdate time. Where's the wine?

Ahh the playdate.  Specifically the playdates that my 3 boys have with my BFF Beth's 3 boys.  For a grand total of 6 boys.  That is a lot of boys.  Plus now we've each added a puppy to our broods.  So 6 boys plus 2 puppies.

Our boys are pretty close in ages - mine are 10, 8 and 3.  Hers are 9, 7 and 3.  Whenever we have playtime after school, we fantasize that the kids will all play peacefully downstairs while we moms quietly sip a glass of wine watching Oprah.  Though we are now resigning ourselves to the fact that getting our boys together means that neither of us will get to complete a sentence, the wine will be guzzled and we will be lucky to catch Oprah's ending credits.

Case in point, today.  Beth made cookies for an after school snack.  Beth's boy #3 (BB#3) walked around the kitchen with his 2 cookies on a plate that slid off so my dog ate them, sharing them with Beth's dog.  Then my dog grabbed my boy #2's (DB#2) cookie off the table because he didn't sit down fast enough.  The dogs then romped around the kitchen for a while all sugared up.  Then DB#3 had some bathroom time but forgot to point his thingy downwards so his shirt, pants, socks and undies were soaked, along with the bathroom floor.  Then Beth's puppy tinkled all over her bed in the kitchen. Then they all wanted to go outside which meant suiting up in snow pants.  Add to that the noise of 6 boys and 2 dogs, and well you get the picture.  We didn't even get the chance to turn on Oprah.  Forget the wine.  We were together for 55 minutes.

Last summer we came to a rather sad conclusion.  It appears that whenever we all show up at our local playground, all the other kids seem to disappear.  We must look pretty scary, invading the playground with the normal wild screams of boys on the loose.  But sure enough, we noticed a trend.

Beth summed it up well though.  "Hey," she whispered, "let's head over to the playground in the next township.  No one knows us over there."

Next summer we might not be so lucky.  Our reputations - and noise - may precede us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've got a lump in my breast. So I'm going for a run.

Today I spoke those words that every woman dreads. 

I've got a lump in my breast. 

I saw my doctor this morning who did not think it was anything to be too concerned about, considering my history, but wanted to err on the safe side.  He ordered an ultrasound which I will have on Friday.

So instead of rushing home, googling everything it could be from cancer to a cyst to a fat deposit, I ran some errands, met my BFF for a quick cup of coffee and headed home.  Where I promptly strapped my precious girls down tight, laced up my beloved kicks, grabbed my pink ipod, leashed up my dog and headed out the door for a run.

The last thing I'm going to do is worry.  There is nothing that is going to change between now and Friday morning so I'm going about business as usual. 

And I had a wonderful run.  One of the best runs, ever.  It was cold, but wonderfully fresh.  I checked my Garmin on the one and only flat portion of my 3.5 mile route and nearly stopped in my tracks - but I'm glad I didn't!  I was running the fastest I had ever run.  An 8:45 minute pace.  Now I know that isn't fast by any means for a lot of mother runners out there.  But for me, I was lightning! 

Even though I had a puppy leashed in one hand and a bag of puppy poo in the other.

Ironically, there is something about health problems and worries that can do a person good.  My now 10 year old son has several chronic eye diseases, and nearly lost his sight at age 3.  So now when I run - and when I don't - I really look around and take in the sights.  From roadside flowers and fallen leaves to snow banks, there is beauty in the most simple scenery. 

And today, with a tiny little pea sized lump, I ran with energy, strength and power.

And I'll run again tomorrow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

If you haven't got anything nice to say...

I check my Yahoo! news page first thing in the morning to see what is going on in the world.  Plus sometimes there are odd "human interest" stories that provide a break from the normal doom and gloom of the news.

Lately I've started reading the comments on some of the stories. 

And I think I'm going to stop reading those comments.

I can't believe the rampant rudeness!  It seems the anonymity of the internet has given free licence to people to say what ever they want.  No matter how uncivilized, childish, mean spirited and insulting their comments may be.  Whether it be a political, social, current events news item or just an interesting story, people are writing horrible things.

Recently I read a tragic story about a family in Canada that was killed in a car accident. 
Random comment: Who cares?  They are Canadians.

Stories about bullying, people dying in fires, horrible illnesses...the hurtful messages that people leave astound me.  There seems to be no compassion.  I really don't understand why, when the subject of the story has faced unspeakable tragedy, comments have to add even more hurt and hate.

As a parent, one of my jobs is to teach my children respect for their fellow human beings.  And kindness.  And compassion.  And understanding.  And tolerance.  And that job gets harder and harder every day because we are surrounded by hatred and intolerance.
There has been a lot of talk about this in politics recently.  And it doesn't matter what side of the political aisle you are on - it comes from both sides.  How can I teach my children respect and kindness when our politicians and national commentators are calling each other Hitler, putting gun sights on their opponents and telling their supporters to reload?  How can we ever expect to raise children into decent adults when our leaders can not themselves set a good example?

The recent horrific events in Arizona have certainly given us pause as a nation.  However, I fear that this will be short lived.  Our memories do not seem to last very long.  Attention moves on to the likes of the Jersey Shore  - where not much is said in kindness (or sobriety) either.

We teach our children that if you haven't got anything nice to say, then don't say anything.  Imagine if our media, politicians and commenters followed that ancient rule of being nice.  The world would be a much quieter place.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Motherhood and Running - Perfectly Imperfect Together

Perfect.  I've come to really dislike that word.

I was the perfect child.  Rarely, if ever, in trouble, straight A's all the way through grad school.  Did as I was told and had the world at my doorstep.  Career planned out.  Oh I was going places. And those places would, no doubt, be perfect.

Then I became a mother.  Of three boys.  I imagined raising young boys of impeccable manners, eager to clean their rooms, help their mom and never say an unkind word to anyone, not even each other. 

I was going to have perfect children.  Just like me.

Well, children have a way of throwing all those visions out the window into a big steaming heap.  My sons are well mannered for the most part, but will eagerly laugh hysterically at the slightest hint of a burp or, as regularly happens in our house of 4 males, wind from the other end.  My goal of 3 well dressed boys in khakis and collared shirts?  I'm lucky if they have anything that isn't stained or ripped.  And right now with the growth rates we are experiencing, a pair of pants that isn't 3 inches above their ankles.

I've scaled back my expectations, and I've realized that that is a good thing.  My kids are happy and well adjusted, for the most part anyway. And the stress - though still there - has been reduced as I realize that my kids are their own selves and with a little guidance from hubby and me, will turn out just fine. Forget perfection.

Then last year I decided to take up running.  I've never been athletic but I decided I wanted to run.  I wasn't going to start at a short 5k (though I ran one - but it wasn't timed, so in my mind, it didn't count.)  Heck no.  I was going for a race with the word "marathon" in it.

And I was going to be the perfect runner, gosh darn it.  Just like I was going to be the perfect mother.

I did pretty well for my very first athletic accomplishment. I finished the half marathon in 2:23.  I was quite proud of myself for my first "official" race.  But I needed to go further.  I signed up for a marathon.  26.2 miles.

And I was going to run the perfect newbie marathon.  I had the shoes, the running skirt, the support of family and friends, and I'd done the training.  But it took me a long time.  A realllyyyy long time.  5 hours and 28 minutes.  I thought I could finish in less than 5, perhaps even 4:30, based on some of my better training runs.  But 26.2 miles is a heck of a long way, especially in bright 70 degree sunshine.  I did well for the first half but at about mile 21 I bonked and half walked/ran the rest of the way.  But I crossed the finish line upright and smiling.

I was proud of myself - but disappointed too.  I didn't run my "perfect" marathon - perfect by my standards any way.  I had different expectations for how I would feel at the end.  I was laughed at by someone who thought my time was slow, and told I was selfish for training for such a long time.  After all it took time away from my family - as if that was my only reason for existence, thank you very much.  I had great support from the Run Like a Mother community which made me feel so much better.  But still, part of me felt like I had failed.

Just like there are days when I feel like am failing as a mother.  You know those days, when the only way you can survive is to park the kids in front of the goggle box and lay on the couch.  Those days when you can not deal with one more argument, fight, spilled glass of milk, load of laundry or toilet to clean.

But running has put this whole experience in perspective.  When you run, you put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  There are days when you are slow, and days when you are fast.  There are days when you can't drag yourself out of bed and there are days when you hop out of bed and go straight to your happy place while putting on your running shoes.

Just like there are days when you can't stand motherhood, and then days when your kids tell you that you are beautiful and the best mom in the world.  You just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep on going, avoiding the legos strewn across the floor, of course.

So my visions of being the perfect mother, the perfect runner?  Replaced by visions - and reality - of being a mother runner who is doing her best.  Putting one foot in front of the other, the best - and only - way I can.