I’m currently training for a half-marathon. This is my third attempt at a half. My first try, three years ago, was abruptly halted when I was out on a ten mile run one morning and thought, hmmm, I wonder if we could be pregnant.
And we were.
I kept up with my training schedule for about one more week after that and decided it wasn’t prudent or savvy for me to continue running, not when my previous pregnancy had required several weeks of bed rest (on the front and back ends of gestation). And just like that, half marathon shelved.
The next year, mere weeks after birthing Isabel, I was back on the road. I was determined to pick back up where I left off. That lasted about five or six weeks before I realized it wasn’t prudent or savvy for me to try squeezing in runs with a three-month-old (and her five older brothers) to care for. I was trying to nurse her real quick before getting out the door and down the road to meet my running club. The lightbulb moment for me was when I was in tears one evening explaining to Paul that if I couldn’t handle the long run that week (seven miles) there was no way I could move up to next week’s nine.
That was that. Running was taking over my life and I had too many other things going on.
So here I am, in training again. And things are going well. Paul is able to come on my long runs with me, I don’t need to head across town to meet a running club (though that was a lot of fun, I really did enjoy that group). And our big boys are able to hold down the fort for our 40, 50 or 60 minute runs. So far so good.
The thing I’ve noticed about myself when I’m running is this: I like to think about almost nothing when I run. I mean, no music, no grand plans. I avoid to do lists and deep thoughts and any other thing that requires energy beyond putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I count. Sometimes I count backwards. Mostly, I just empty myself and pay attention to the cracks in the sidewalks.
For an over-analyzer, this is absolute bliss. I love giving my brain a little down time.
When we get back from our long run, I’m usually eager to go over (for a few brief moments) how the run went. I usually lament the sections of the run that proved the greatest challenge. The long uphill drags, how we managed to get it done despite the challenge. We might discuss the easy strides, but mostly it’s about how we can better manage the hard parts — and how great it feels to be done with our run!
I’ve been feeling a tad sheepish today about the tone of my last post — the last few posts really. “Am I a negative person,” I’ve asked myself, “am I feeling unhappy with my life? With my circumstances?”
No, I have answered back, you’re just doing your thing — your analyzing, naval-gazing thing.
But it’s true, times are challenging. Or at least, some of the times are challenging. There are moments throughout my day — and some days have more of these moments than others — where the strain and stress of parenting is just so overwhelming. It’s not all the time, and in fact, some days it’s blissfully awesome.
But sometimes, yes, I’m in a battle. I’m standing my ground and at the end of the day I kind of need to go over how things went. And for some reason — probably because this whole motherhood gig is the number one most important job I’ve got going (besides my husband, love you baby) — I really put a lot of thought energy into figuring out how things are going and how they could be better.
So that’s that. A huge part of parenting is assessing how you’re doing. Paul and I will talk about our approach — ways we could do better but also ways that we really are on target with our goals as parents and as a family — and how we are lining up with where we feel God is calling us as a family. Whether you have one child or three or six, whether you homeschool or send your kids out the door, whether you have a bunch of boys or a mix — each family has unique charisms and challenges and also (I need to remember this!) unique gifts and charms that are exactly who God made each family to be.
We are working with all of that and for me, reflecting on that is a big part of the job.