I'm about to write about something that might not be received very well. In fact, I have been hesitant to write about it because I don't want to upset anyone, but it is something that I feel very strongly about so I'm going to go ahead and speak my mind. Because this is my blog and I can.
What prompted the decision to finally write this post is a new picture I saw come across Facebook that says something along the lines of, "Mommy going for a run isn't Mommy being selfish, it's Mommy being awesome."
I cannot begin to describe how annoyed that statement makes me. On so many levels.
I posted back in 2010 about finding balance in my life with training and the responsibilities of being a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom. I wrote that right before some things changed in my world with regards to running and racing that took me far off the road of "balance." The important thing to note, though, is that I didn't realize it when it was happening. It was only once my daughter (then 12) pointed it out to me and then I was sidelined with my injury that I could look back and see what happened.
In my pursuit of becoming a Half Fanatic, and later my failed attempt at becoming a Marathon Maniac, I found myself getting involved with a lot of people who run races on a regular basis. And I started running a lot of races. And I started training A LOT. And when I wasn't training, I was exhausted from training.
As my daughter pointed out, I was gone every single holiday morning. And in 2010-early 2012, I took many, many expensive out-of-town/state races, 3 in a two month period. It was when I left for that last trip that my youngest daughter, then 9, sobbed and begged me not to leave again.
My household suffered. My kids' education suffered. My relationship with my husband suffered. And I didn't even realize it was happening. Everyone was wanting to be supportive of me, so they weren't putting any limits on my racing or training (beyond what our finances would hold, and my husband took many extra gigs to allow ME to do these trips! WOW!).
I'm going to emphasize this point again - I didn't even realize I was going down this path. I didn't see the difference between the training that started out as "Mommy needs to take care of herself" and had morphed into "Mommy only cares about herself." It didn't happen on purpose. I didn't set out to do it. If you had asked me if I was training or racing too much I would have said, "No way!" because I knew plenty of people who raced/trained much more than I did. And besides, I needed the time away. I deserved to take care of myself. Right?
So how does this happen? How does a loving, caring, devoted Mom fall off that fine line that balances her family and her own needs? Bit by bit. Race by race. I don't think ANY mom does it on purpose. Really. Most of us mom - especially stay-at-home, and/or homeschooling, and/or special needs moms - are crazy about our families! Motherhood is not a career that will result in lots of tangible rewards. Unfortunately, it's easier than I think any of us would realize to get wrapped up in something else that will give us those tangible benefits.
Remember, especially for those of you with little kids, that this season of high-needs motherhood will not last forever. There will be lots of time for you to pursue all of your amazing goals when your kids are a little bit older. That 12 year old who was crushed about me racing every holiday and swore that I loved running more than I loved her is now a 14 year old who is rarely awake before I get in from my weekend long runs or bike rides. She also swears she never said that about my running, so I don't think there was any permanent damage done to our relationship. ;) The intensive years of parenting are really quite short, though they feel so long when you are in the thick of it. For me, I really have only 7 more years of homeschooling to go. And the intensive years of parenting are behind me (though the emotionally draining ones are here in a big way LOL). Even though I have special needs kids who might be living at home for some or all of their adulthood, the hardest years of parenting are over. And it happened in a flash!
Don't forget, there is someone else in the family who deserves to think about himself, too - your husband. Mine has been working 2 jobs for the last 13 years to allow me to stay home and homeschool. He has worked doubly hard to allow me to take these trips and pursue these goals. In the last few weeks, we have learned that he has some serious health problems of his own. In fact, it is only by the grace of God that I did not lose him to stroke or heart attack. He had no symptoms, and the only reason we found out about it is that he went to the ER for a tetanus shot after stepping on a rusty nail in our yard. His blood pressure was so dangerously high that they wouldn't let him leave. And now he has testing on Monday to determine how much damage there is to his heart. My husband is NOT obese or even overweight, but he is sedentary and eats (or rather, ate - before the ER visit) an unhealthy diet. He needs to make some changes and I'm excited to put aside some of my goals to help him get healthier!
The purpose of my post today is not to point fingers or judge or
announce that MY way is the RIGHT WAY and the number of races or
whatever I do is the "perfect" number to maintain balance. NO WAY. My
purpose is to encourage all of us to be cautious and to
check in with our loved ones and make sure that the balance still exists
(because this balance is going to look different for each family so the
only way you can know if you're doing it is by checking in with your
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend of training AND family time! :)