Have you ever thought about how each day of motherhood is like a morning training run?
Let me start by saying that I am NOT a runner.
I will never forget my first week at college when I thought it was a good idea to go running with my new dorm friends. I’m in shape, I thought. I can keep up. Considering that one of the three girls ran cross country and track at our university (which happens to often win the national championship in cross country) I was a
little lot out of my league. Not to mention the fact that the previous week I had been living at about 300 feet above sea level, and now I was attempting to run at 4000 feet. Oops.
Needless to say, as I found myself with a giant side ache about a mile later, dying as I tried to keep up while climbing a monster of a hill, I gave up. That was the beginning and end of my running career. I’ve gone a few times since then–including a brief stint where I trained for a 5K because a (different) roommate signed me up for the race without telling me–but I’ve never really loved running.
However, in desperation of getting some good exercise that didn’t involve spending lots of money on classes at a gym or rec center, I attempted running again last summer. I committed to running a 5K with my sister, and my awesome husband agreed to train with me (and push the 80 pound double jogging stroller with our two boys…he’s a keeper). We successfully completed our race, and somewhere along the line I realized that I liked it enough to do it again this year.
So, I’m running again.
And as we were running this morning, I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I considered how much each day of motherhood is like a morning training run. Don’t you think?
You start out feeling good, excited for the opportunity ahead and optimistic about the positive choices you’re making in getting up in the first place. Then, after a mile or so, you start to get tired, but you know you’ve got to keep going…so you do.
You get into a rhythm, and you do well for awhile…until something unexpected happens–a side ache, or that stinking knee that twinges from time to time. It throws off your rhythm and your excitement about running wavers.
By the time you get as far away form home as you’re going, you feel exhausted, and you wonder why you ever thought running was a good idea in the first place. You want to quit, but you know that you’ve got to get back home somehow, and you may as well do it as quickly as possible.
As you near home, you come to the “giant hill of death” and you are pretty sure you’re NOT going to make it after all. Just bury me here, please. You slow down, but you keep going. One foot in front of the other. And soon, though you don’t know how, you are at the top, and you’re almost home. You kick on the afterburners and sprint home, ready to rest. You’re breathing hard, but as you sit down on the cool grass, you’re feeling good again. You know that as hard as it was–as much as you wanted to quit–it was worth it. You did something good for yourself, and you know you’ll do it all over again tomorrow.
And as I sat on the grass this morning, with my boys climbing on me and showing me the potato bugs they found on the driveway, I knew I was ending one run for the day and beginning another. So I gathered my strength, and I told myself the same things I tell myself when I’m running:
One step in front of the other.
Just do a little better today than you did yesterday.
Look up at the sky instead of down at the ground.
You can do it.
And I can do it. As much as motherhood pushes me to my limit (and sometimes it feels like beyond my limit), I look down at those little boys and I know who I’m running for.
They are watching me. They see me run and cheer me on, telling me “You can do it, Mom” when I feel like I’ve given all I have and it’s not enough. And they watch me each day as their mom, learning from me what it means to do hard things, to deal with disappointment, to live life fully and to love it, and countless other big and little lessons each day (some of which I wish they weren’t watching so closely).
So I won’t give up. Some days I feel good and could run for miles; other days every step feels like I’m trudging through wet cement. But I’ll keep running, each day getting a little stronger, a little wiser, a little better at this mom thing.
Because my children are counting on me…and they are worth whatever sacrifice it takes.
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