With Mother's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd mix up the topic for a bit and take a break from the woes of Injury. This post will probably go out on Wednesday but right now it's Tuesday, so "Tuesday-ish Tips" live to see another week! Side Note: I'm really enjoying blogging for myself, but it does take up time from my day, so if you're reading (I have analytics... I know exactly how many readers I have, and I'm definitely not writing just for my mom!) I'd really appreciate any feedback or if you dropped a comment. I wouldn't even know how to make money off a blog, but I heard on a podcast once that engagement is key for "sponsors"... (clueless what exactly that entails...) so... Say hi!
So this weeks "Tuesday-ish Tips" are on motherhood. I've had a rough few weeks as a mother and a mother runner.... and I've had some time to reflect on some things I've learned and maybe didn't see coming even last month. Maybe it can prepare you for what's ahead in your journey, or maybe your just going to be nodding your head along here... orrrr... you think I'm crazy. (Which, adamantly, I am) Either way, I hope this post can provide some level of entertainment for you!
Lesson 1: Things Change Quick!
You hear it all the time by mothers of children that have flown the coop; "enjoy this time, it goes by so fast!" and while that is true that is not what I'm talking about. Just a few months ago I wrote on instagram about how I never had this sense that I've lost freedom, and that motherhood and a family was all I ever wanted... well, recently that's changed! I feel a little guilty to admit it, but my threenager has been relentless lately and I've been... well... dealing with this injury and pain and reshaping or defining myself (as an individual not as something tethered to my children). That's something that isn't easy to do when you have no space or no ability to just go somewhere without having to think about others. We all go through stuff and it's really hard to do when you are trying to uphold a family unit and, ya know, keep your adorable children who have no safety awareness alive. Like, keeping people alive every day is no joke! Sometimes I look at my kids and I'm like "how the hell am I allowed to be responsible for other people! I just put my keys in the refrigerator!"... but then other days I'm like "I'm the best mom in the world and this shit is easy.” Like the weather at the Boston Marathon this year, IT CHANGES FAST and OFTEN PEOPLE! Don't get comfortable.
Lesson 2: Don't let Guilt dictate your choices
Whenever I feel like I'm in this Catch 22, I can't help think of my favorite book, The Little Prince
“Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince.
Often lately I've been feeling guilty. As mentioned above, I've been struggling with enjoying this phase in my life. But also, as part of a way to cope with that struggle, I've been leaving the house early in the morning to go to the gym to get some me time that I've missed out on since I've been injured... but it's been hard because I'm not there when the girls wake up and I don't see them until I get home from work.
Why are you at the gym?-because I feel guilty
Why do you feel guilty?- because I need the gym.
What I'm learning to do is detach the feeling of guilt from the thing I'm doing for myself. Instead of focusing on the time I'm missing with my kids (which, is actually way less time in the end since they are still asleep when I'm halfway done my workout), I'm trying to just accept that guilt is part of motherhood, so when it creeps in... I let it... but then just shrug my shoulders, admit I can't do it all, and move on. I can't let guilt attach itself to other parts of my day. What I do should not be in response to the guilt I naturally feel, my actions and decisions should not be coping mechanisms for guilt because that just keeps the cycle going! For example, I'm not going to come home and spend time with my kids because I feel guilty that I haven't all day. Instead I'm going to come home and spend time with my kids because I want nothing more than to give them all my energy... and going to the gym gives me the ability to do that. Before I was staying at home and working out with them at my feet, but I felt like I couldn't be present with either activity. I was getting frustrated with them for getting in the way or I was not completing the task I wanted to in order to improve my fitness or strength. Guilt is always going to make an appearance, but don't let it hang out and create a cycle.
Lesson 3: There are NO Experts
I must admit, my career parallels parenting more than most, and I feel like as a result I have the upper hand for most challenging situations... but I am by no means an expert. I work as a teacher for students on the spectrum with a large range of behavioral needs. This could include potty training, feeding, personal care, functional communication.... but also more challenging things like tantrums, (tantrums, and more tantrums), non-compliance, flopping (refusing to get off the floor), inappropriate screaming, aggression, biting. You name it, I've seen it! I know what to do. I know to look at what happens before a behavior occurs, find out the function and what is maintaining the behavior, find a way to reinforce it that is potent enough to motivate and shape the desired behavior.... I do this for a job... (and it really comes in handy sometimes, but not all the time)... In some ways this makes me an expert on all the stuff above, which is largely the things we struggle with as parents.... but guess what? I ACTUALLY HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I'M DOING!... It's a little different in the parent seat. As a teacher I have certain goals, but they are limited to only a few environments... and are often centered around completion of assignments and are work related (because I'm in a school)... but as a parent? Man! Totally different ball game! For example, when a student is misbehaving in class, one reason could be because he wants attention. Well, Johnny, now is not time for you to get attention, I've got a class of students trying to learn... so, I'm just going to ignore you until you have eyes on me like I asked then and only then will I give you attention. At school, I am there to teach. As parents we are their teachers, but more often than not, our kids are teaching us (yes, that happens at school too, but much more so at home). Raea had been acting up a lot... and the "expert" in me said this is an attention seeking behavior, I shouldn't give her attention because I'll reinforce her acting up".... but the mother in me thought "wow, maybe I"m not giving her enough love and attention, am I doing this right?" .... because I just want my kids to feel loved, and hopefully that love is enough for them to follow my example and love in return. Is ignoring my child because they are acting up the best way to show love? I'm so conflicted! There are no experts.
Lesson 4: My mom deserves a Medal... and a big fat pay check!
My mom deserves a medal for something other than the 91 marathons she's completed in the last 20 years. Holy Fu(k that woman deserves a medal. Mom, if you're reading this, WE SUCK! All 8 of us were total assholes and I don't know how we are all alive and functioning members of society, and no one is estranged or in jail. Hats off! 8 kids people! EIGHT!!!! and I'd say 6/8 of us were stubborn little shits the other two we said were her favorite, but really they just listened (kiss ups). Whenever my mom and I got in a fight and she'd tell me that I was inconsiderate and unappreciative (plus a few well earned explitives) I used to say something to the effect of well you raised me blaming her for my asshole-child-syndrome. Now, my daughter is 3 and hasn't crossed into total terror zone that I did... but I did not raise her to be so challenging! She came out this way! I do my best to be patient with her every day but man, oh, man... how am I going to survive this? My mom did nearly 40 years turning monsters into mostly good humans!! and my 36 year old brother just moved back home the year my youngest sister went to college! NO BREAKS! No wonder she's run all these marathons! Any non-mothers reading... appreciate your mothers.... It's a hard job that they don't get paid for!
Lesson 5: Love has no Limits
I always like to end on a positive, Motherhood has been really hard for me lately (which is tough, because these first three years have actually been relatively easy and natural up until now) but it's just amazing how no matter how hard it gets you still think it is the absolute best thing in the world... and there's really no limit to how far you would go and how much suffering you would take on to make their world a little bit brighter.... and that reciprocating love? The smiles, the trust? So worth it! I love my two kids so much, I never understood love until I saw their faces.
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!