Today was one of those rotten, no-good days as a parent.
At 3 years old, nap time can be a struggle with E and sometimes, like today, those struggles wake her peacefully sleeping sister. And then I’m stuck dealing with two tired and incredibly cranky girls with no break in sight for this weary Momma.
God bless that husband of mine. When he walked through the door (15 minutes late but who was counting) he instructed me to strap on my running shoes and hit the pavement.
I didn’t want to run. I had used nutella as the medicine for my crazed-Momma mood and so I felt sluggish and heavy. But I ran. And along the way, I realized that running and motherhood are far more similar than I ever before realized.
I suck at both. Not really, but sort of. There are a lot of days when I stop, stare in the mirror and think, “Dude, I suck at this. Please don’t let me screw up my kids.” I lose my patience, probably turn on too much Netflix and sometimes feel like my kids run the show. In the world of running, I’m such a slow and short distance runner, I’m sure most “real” runners would scoff. But I’m still doing both, to the best of my ability, which is all I can do.
Don’t compare. I really hate being next to other runners on a treadmill or reading bloggers who log 350 miles a month (for perspective, I log around 40). It makes me self-conscious and feel all poo-poo on myself. But I’m not them, I’m not running their race. Parenting is the same. It is so, so hard to not look at other mothers and wonder what on Earth they are doing differently that makes it all seem so easy. Their kids listen, speak three languages and never pick up babies and throw them while in child watch (true story). But again, their race is not my race and not all is as it seems.
Don’t watch the clock. For me, parenting and running are both 90% mental and just 10% physical. Afternoons and runs can drag on forever. Stop watching the clock, it only makes it drag on longer.
Find a groove. Get a pace and routine.
Break out of that groove. When you find yourself fading, switch it up. Quicken the pace, add sprints. Hop in the car for a post-nap, pre-dinner trip to Dunkin’ Donuts.
Find role models. Whether a parent of four or a seasoned runner, you need people who have traveled this road before you that can offer support. There are some problems that don’t have text-book (or Google) solutions and everyone needs perspective and advice.
Find a support network. Both parenting and running are solo sports. Especially as a stay-at-home mom, I go through the majority of the week doing it on my own. But you need to surround yourself with other parents (and runners) with whom you share similar parenting (and training) styles. These people will laugh with – and sometimes at – you. They will offer encouragement. And maybe most importantly, they will go through the trenches with you. Whether it’s potty training or dealing with a nasty reoccurring injury, having someone to reassure you that you are not going to lose it is invaluable.
Both can be terrifying. Like parenting a child with allergies or running through the neighborhood at dark, it’s easy to get comfortable and let your guard down. But when something happens – an allergic reaction or a slow, shady-looking car – to shake you back aware. And then you realize that when you need to, you can man up and be good enough.
It’s okay to need a break. As women, it’s hard to admit we need a break – physically, mentally or emotionally. But we need to listen to our bodies and minds.
You’ll be glad you did it when it’s done. After a crazy day and the kiddos are finally asleep, I can sit back and feel content. On even the worst of days (like today), I can always muster up some bit of joy that make the trials worthwhile. Likewise, there is never a run I regret. Sure, I may wish I did better or differently, but I’m always glad I went out.