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.