This post is not about running. Don’t worry. I am not going to try to convince you that running is this amazing and euphoric activity that everyone should try. I am not going to make you feel bad about yourself because you do not hit the pavement 3-5 times a week.
This post is about finding your mom escape. This post is about finding something that makes you happy amidst the hustle and bustle of your amazingly hectic mom life. This post is about saying yes to your needs and saying yes to being unselfishly selfish.
I am a runner.
I run for my health.
I run for my escape.
I run for my mental stability.
I run for my kids.
I run for my happiness.
I run for my confidence.
I am not your typical runner. In fact, I feel like an imposter just saying that I am a runner. I am not super fit. Without dropping my actual average pace, let’s just say that I usually get passed by the 8-12-year-old age group during a race. I do not have the trendy running clothes or the fancy GPS watch or the latest fitness gear. I oblige and on occasion I will choke down energy gels.
I Run for My Health
I began running 15 years ago in college as a mode of exercise. My running became amped up after the birth of my second son. I found myself 15 lbs. over my pre-pregnancy weight and desperate to find a way to work those pounds off the hard way. So after I was cleared by my OB, I began to take small runs throughout my neighborhood. I started slow. I started low. I would run 2-3 miles at a time. My pace was not exactly one to be desired. Soon, I began to push myself to see if I could go longer distances.
I Run for My Escape
Life with 2 small children comes with an exponential amount of stress, fatigue, and feeling of suffocation at times. I find that my time running is my sacred time to be alone. It is the time when I don’t have to think about little ones needing me to make snacks or wipe bottoms or watch my millionth episode of Paw Patrol. It is my time to take care of myself, which is something that is so hard for so many moms to do. We are expected to be supermoms. We meet the needs of our children. We meet the needs of our husbands. We try to manage a household. We hold down careers outside and within our homes. We use every ounce of our existence taking care of the needs of other people. Running is my way of taking care of myself and my mental stability.
I Run for My Mental Stability
We have been raised in such a culture that moms often feel guilty for taking time for themselves. Our mothers before us wear badges of pride for raising children without the help of any outside assistance or date nights or Youtube Kids. There is no sacrificial award given to the mom who dropped her own interests and well-being for the greater good of her family.
In fact, I find that I am a better mom when I return from a run. My mind has been cleared. My stress from work or home feels like it almost gets washed away after my run. I often have times when I start a run thinking about some heavy topic from the day, and after my 30 minutes, I find that my problems from before my run do not seem so daunting. There is so much in our lives that we have very little control over. Running is where I feel like I gain my control back.
I Run for My Kids
This may seem a bit far-fetched and bit self-absorbed, but what I mean is that I am not super woman. I am not an Olympic athlete. I am not even a competitive runner. I do, however, feel that I am making a positive impression on my children when they see me making fitness a priority. I also feel that it is important for them to know that it is ok to take time for themselves, even as an adult, to engage in something that makes them happy.
I also think about my children as I run in organized races. I think about how they have watched me train for weeks for a race, and how that influences them as they see me cross the finish line and accomplish something that has taken me hours and hours of hard work. They may be a bit too young to understand that concept right now, but I hope that there may be some long term lesson I can teach them from my running.
I Run for My Confidence. I Run for My Happiness.
Running makes me happy. It makes me feel confident. It makes me feel in control of an unpredictable life. When my kids won’t go to sleep at night or my toddler throws a train across the playground because heaven forbid we have to go home or my oldest son acts like he can’t hear me when he is in front of his friends and literally fails to acknowledge every request I yell his way, life can feel a little bit out of control.
Parenthood can often make you feel a deep sense of failure as a parent when things do not go as expected. Running gives me back an abbreviated, if not delusional, sense of control. I pick my pace. I pick my mileage, and pushing myself beyond what I think I can do makes me forget that my children ate solely chicken and goldfish for an entire day. It makes me feel like I can accomplish goals that I previously felt were out of range for me. It shows my kids that it is ok to do things for themselves that makes them happy.
Find Your Happiness.
Running may not be for everyone. In fact, when I tell people that I have run a full marathon (one and done, though!) and half-marathons, I am usually met with a typical response such as, “Wow, good for you. I hate running. I can’t even run a mile.”
Yes, running is not a perfect fit for everyone. But, what I think is so important for moms today is to find their escape. Find something that makes you happy. Find something that pushes your limits to build your confidence. Find something that clears your mind so that when you return to your precious little children, you can be a better mom. It doesn’t have to be a physical activity either. Maybe your escape is scrapbooking. Or crafting. Or writing. Or music. Anything that allows the hard-working mother that you are to take care of yourself.
It is ok to be selfish sometimes. Selfish is not always such a bad thing. It is ok to say that you need a break from motherhood, even if it is just for an hour. This gig is harder than any one of us could ever have imagined, despite the endless advice we get when we are pregnant with our first child. It is ok to do something you enjoy. You will feel better. Your children will notice your positive energy when you return home.
And trust me, there is no award given at the end of the day for the mother-who-sacrificed-it-all-to-take-care-of-her-children-and-not-herself.