My First 5K as a Mom

Training:

Up until last weekend, I had been training for my first 5K as a mom for 8 weeks using the Couch to 5K app. This required getting up at the crack of dawn in sometimes freezing temperatures to run with my neighbor before work. Other times, when it snowed or rained, I ran on a treadmill and fought boredom. Either way, just finding the regular time to run meant good planning with my husband, and the willingness to run whenever I had the chance. **I have since added the exception of running an hour after Taco Tuesday dinner. That was not a good run. But I did it. Barely.

IMG_8466.JPGWhenever I get back from a run, I am mauled by my entourage (this photo includes a neighbor’s dog who was visiting this particular day).

I remember training back before kids over a decade ago. I had such nice, relaxing evenings of stretching under the ceiling fan while watching Sex in the City and enjoying a cold adult beverage.

My strength training didn’t include an infant lying on my stomach as I did pelvic lifts, or a preschooler crawling repeatedly through the “bridge” of downward-facing dog pose as I tried to inhale and release my stressed muscles. Ah, those were the days.

The Night Before:

Despite going to bed before 10:00 p.m., my mind was nervous about the race. Could I do it? How hilly would the course be? Would my weakened bladder (thanks kids) make it? Would I forget to nurse the baby before going to the race so I wouldn’t have that kind of leaking? Hey-I keep it real here. These are legitimate concerns. Count yourself lucky if you don’t have to worry about these things before a race!

Just as I drifted off, the crying began. My one-year old is teething again (we assume). He cried off and on until about 3:00 a.m., when he decided to just stay awake and thrash himself around in our bed until 5:00 a.m. We had to get up at 5:45. That was a short night.

Race Day- Before the Race:

Our eldest son woke up on the wrong side of the bed. He melted down because he couldn’t find his little American flag that he wanted to wave at the soldiers and veterans competing in the Memorial Day Run and March. It was nowhere to be found. Once our team of diplomats resolved this issue, we were out of pears and also didn’t have the right kind of cereal. Realizing that negotiations were futile, the diplomats gave up and went to a more reasonable preschooler’s home.

Meanwhile, I was trying to fuel up and also feed the baby who was throwing his food on the floor in his first physics experiment and crying because his breakfast didn’t bounce.

We made it to the car, most of us crying, and all of us apologizing. We were solidly in a festive mood by the end of the 15 minutes it took to get there.

Ten seconds after leaving the registration area, a kind woman asked my son if he wanted a little flag. Where the heck was SHE an hour earlier?

During the Race:

I went out too fast at the start because I was all excited to be running in a pack-a rookie mistake that I should have avoided. This meant that I ended up taking four walk breaks near the end because I pushed too hard at the start.

At one point in my first walk break, I let that mean girl voice take over and tell me I can’t do this. What am I thinking? I am starting over 12 years after a marathon. I should give up after this race. If I can’t do 3.1 without walking, how will I EVER do 13.1?

Then I thought of my boys, and how they were waiting to see their mom cross the line, and by golly, they were going to see me finish strong. So I ran when I could and walked when I needed to, and I rounded the corner with a smile on my bright red face.

After the Race:

I finished in a time that was great for me-I really only wanted to cross the line on my own feet and not by stretcher.

The best part was that my boys were all lined up, waving that tiny flag, when I crossed the line. My eldest son, who had sacrificed and eaten second-choice cereal before the race, beamed at me and told me he was proud of me for “winning the race.”

I don’t know what other people went through in the 8 weeks leading up to their race, but I definitely think I am winning.

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Letter to My Second (and Last) Child on the Eve of His 1st Birthday

Dear son,

You are about to turn a year old in two days, and I am a mess. I look as if everything is under control most of the time, and I am making positive progress toward some major physical/personal milestones; however, I am also crying several times a day right now and your father is forcing me out for my runs so that I will feel better.

You see, when we learned that we were having you, we also knew you would be our last child. I am 41, and although it is theoretically possible to continue adding children to our family biologically or through adoption, it is not personally recommended physically for the prior and not financially feasible for the latter. We are done. The magnitude of this is great. I am not saying that you and your brother aren’t enough, it’s just that there is no choice in the matter. I explain this more in an earlier blog post. I am quite aware that the fear of choices being taken away is why I am planning to run this half marathon and climb a fourteener. I want to do it all while I can. It’s my mid-life crisis.

Now that we know you, we can’t imagine life before you. You are an absolute ray of sunshine in our lives. Your disposition is contagious and we are all happier because you are here. I look at your sweet face with your four-toothed smile, and I melt. Every time. You are getting more brave every day, standing on your own for almost 15 seconds, although no steps yet. I can tell that you are going to be tenacious, but also kind. You give more kisses than your older brother, and I thought he was the snuggliest kid in the world. You can fight over that distinction every day if you wish.

But when I look at you, I also see how much time I have to spend away from you while working at a job I need to keep our family going. I look at a year that whizzed past as you spent hours every day in the arms of Miss Nicole or Miss Jacey at day care. I know they love you dearly too, and I am thankful you have loving arms to hold you when I can’t. But I wish it had been my arms all day. I wish I could have gone full Dr. Sears and had you attached to me 24-7. But I couldn’t. Again, the lack of choice breaks my heart.

Every cliché holds so much truth: You can’t get that time back. The first year goes by so fast. Don’t blink-you will miss their childhood. But for those of us who must work, we miss a lot. We don’t get a fraction of the time we need with our babies. We trust that they will turn out well-adjusted even though they had to spend so much time away from the one person they need most during the first year. We try to make every weekend count with our kids. Every nighttime snuggle is that much more cherished. We negotiate our time and manage somehow.

But I don’t know about you. How do you manage it? Do you miss me? Do you feel abandoned? You sure don’t look like you are sad or depressed, but then, is this not-ideal situation all you know, so you don’t hope for 24-7 mommy time? That is sad, too. You and your brother will never know what it would be like to have me to yourselves most of the day. For that I am sorry. You might be thankful. The jury is out on that one.

It’s just important that you know that if I could, I would be with you all day, every day. Maybe before you are in school one day, I can spend time away from work and stay home, but there are no promises. Daddy and I are doing the best we can for you and your brother. It will never ever be enough for me, but I hope it is enough for you.

I love watching you grow and see your sweet personality develop before our eyes. I would never ask to go backwards on this journey together, but I will pause on photos like this one today and cry for the baby that I wish I could have held just a little bit longer every day. You might as well get used to this crying now. It’s part of who I am. Just ask your Aunt Tammy who is probably crying as she reads this too. It’s genetic.

Now here is a choice I can make. I can cry it out, run it out, or climb it out, but I will also focus on the moments that we do share together and be thankful. I can’t wait to see what the coming year has in store for us. The ugly cries are under control now. Let’s celebrate!

Love,

Mommy

 

Mother’s Day: Why do we do this?

I am not a curmudgeon who believes that we shouldn’t recognize moms for their hard work. But the older I get, the more I wonder why we continue to celebrate this holiday when so many people have a difficult time with it.

There are the people like me who have lost their mother, and the day always brings that familiar lump in the throat as we quickly scroll past images of peers celebrating with their mothers on Facebook.

There are those who do not have mothers to celebrate at all, because their mothers were the source of pain and/or neglect in their lives.

There are those single moms who might not be recognized at all if there is no other family member to prompt the kiddos to make her breakfast in bed, paint a picture, or dig up some dandelions to present to her on that day.

There are also those who desperately want to be a mother, and haven’t been able to conceive and/or adopt. This day can bring sadness for these mothers-to-be.

Finally, we have those who were mothers, but lost a child. I can’t imagine the grief that this day must bring for them.

Allow my idealist side to offer a proposal: Is it so revolutionary to consider sharing your thanks with your mother, should it be an option and appropriate for you, on many days of the year without Hallmark reminding you to do so? We all have these handy devices that allow us to set reminders for ourselves.

Why don’t we look around us and give moms a hand on a regular basis? Arrange to look after her children so that a mom can go shopping or sit in a quiet room for a few hours if needed. Tell a mother she is doing a great job on a random day. That probably means more anyway. Encourage kids to be kind to their mothers every day. Let’s toss out the one day a year model.

Now, my realistic side will offer a perhaps more achievable proposal: Since American society is not likely to let go of this holiday, why not do the above, AND also be mindful of the people in our lives for whom Mother’s Day really sucks. Reach out and tell them that you are thinking of them on what must be a difficult day (not on Facebook, but in real life, or by a phone call or card). Take care when you address a group at work, church, or other gatherings that your blanket wishes of “Happy Mother’s Day,” might hit some people right in the gut. Celebrate, yes, but be mindful of the fact that not everyone has a reason to celebrate with you, and assuming so can unintentionally hurt people close to you.

Myself, I made it through another Mother’s Day with only a few tears while talking to my sister, and otherwise tried to have a “normal” day with my kids. I appreciated them, they appreciated me, and that did not diminish today, the day afterwards. I imagine tomorrow will be much the same.