Category: marriage

Not as easy as they say.

One statement I’ve heard a lot about running:

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“It’s the easiest sport ever! You just put on some running shoes and go outside!”

Totally correct! Except when it’s not. I think it’s a gross over-simplification that breaks down pretty quickly for many people. For me, that could have been correct when I was under 30, single, or newly married.

These days – with three children (toddler up to now first-grader), an awesome husband, and a full-time job away from home – it’s more like this:

20140606-103204-37924347.jpgIs it worth it? Absolutely. Is it easy? No way, and I’m not even talking about the running part of running.

I love reading running blogs, but need to go beyond my usual reads. They’re great women, but they’re mostly child-free and younger than me. I am serious when I say that I love reading their posts and have learned a lot from them. I need to find some peers to round out my reading, you know? I start putting unrealistic expectations on myself otherwise.

I had a conversation online with some other mom friends who are working fitness into their lives in various ways. It is HARD. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom who stays and works at home or if you’re a mom who’s working outside the home. Filling at least three roles (individual, partner, and mother) takes a lot of time and energy. Adding a fourth role – RUNNER – brings in a whole new dimension of strategy.

I run in the early morning or in a gym at the end of the work day. For the early morning, I run outside in our neighborhood. I have had to think through the things that would make me feel safer … reflective gear, light-colored clothing, lower music volume, CONSTANT VIGILANCE (thank you, Professor Moody), sticking to well-lit sidewalks, and timing my run so that I’m running more toward sunrise than not. I totally bailed on running when DST started because it was just too dark. Also never pictured in my post-run photos: the pepper spray I try to remember to carry every time. Not just for humans, but for any dogs whose owners aren’t being smart about them. I’m also thinking about buying a reflective vest type thing to wear when I run early morning. Early mornings work for me because kids are asleep, my husband can shower and start to get ready, and it’s the coolest part of the day here. I hate getting up, but that’s the trade-off I have to make.

I think that’s the big conversation you have to have with your partner and yourself: trade-offs. If we both agree this is something important to do for my mental and physical health, we both have to agree to make space for it somehow and address associated concerns. If the concern is being left alone at a certain time with the kids, what are the alternative plans that don’t result in that and what steps do we take to mitigate additional concerns? If the concern is safety of running location or time, what are the adjustments to be made to meet those concerns? Which primary concern “wins” for both of you so that you agree to make the adjustments for the secondary concern?

Adding in the Runner role requires change. It is NOT the easiest sport ever for me. It requires flexibility from everyone. There is no absolutely perfect solution that requires no change, because no change keeps you in the situation you’re already in. Something always has to give – time, routine, or money for a gym with childcare so mommy can exercise and not lose her head.

The pay-off has been totally worth it. My daughter plays “runner” now, in the middle of being a princess-astronaut-doctor-mom. She went to go have her run “in space” after putting her babies in bed. My oldest son wants to start running with me every week. My toddler already loves the jogging stroller. I don’t want to smack strangers as often as I used to. It’s awesome … it’s just not easy.

Saying “Thank You”

One of the things I never expected thirteen years ago, back when I started being online, was that I would get married “late” (based on when almost everyone I knew got married), that I would have a child within two years of being married, and that I would be a working mother.

My plan was to get married around 25 or 26, have a child about five years later, and then stay at home with the baby while my husband worked. Instead, I got married at 29, had our first baby just before my 31st birthday, had our second baby just before my 33rd birthday, and my husband works from home and stays home with the kids.

It’s had various challenges, and I could talk about those at length. Maybe one of the biggest things has been trying to not be the stereotypical “working parent” who comes home and ignores all the wonderful things the parent at home has done during the day. I’m bad at this anyway; Will has an incredible tendency toward service, and he has taken care of our home, of me, of all the little things that I hate doing, and he does it all because he loves me and our children. I – not having that gift – tend to take it for granted, don’t reciprocate as much as I should, and I forget to say thank you.

I’m trying to be better about that. I’m grateful for the chance to play with the kids when I get home from work. I’m grateful for the dinner Will made for all of us, and the clean kitchen. I’m grateful for having clean clothes because Will took the time to do laundry. I’m grateful that when I came home, Seth (our two-year-old) was happily playing at the sink, “helping” Daddy wash dishes while Will made dinner.

So … I try to remember to clean the bathroom on trash day. It helps me to have a reminder like that. We both hate it, but there’s no reason I can’t do one of the things I hate so Will doesn’t have to. I try to remember to make the bed. (When I write it out like this, it seems pathetically small!)

And tonight we had a special little treat after the kids were in bed. (No, not THAT treat. I wouldn’t tell you about that … ) A French press of decaf coffee with a little pumpkin pie spice, some Laceys cookies, and the choice of decorating the Christmas tree or watching tv. He chose watching tv, which I was very happy with because I didn’t really feel like standing upright anymore today, what with being up since 3am and all.

And now … bed!

Two Cups of Coffee and Cookies
Evening Snack for Two