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Every morning it’s the same thing: Should I stay or should I go?
This debate is about my running, but it’s not a question of do or don’t. I’ve
been a dedicated runner for many years now, so there’s no wrangle around that.
Come rain, shine or wretched wind chill, I will
be hitting the open road and putting in my mile time. The choice factor has
to do with another title I hold around here: mother.
My son is 5, and he’s grown up seeing his mama put on her tights
(and hat and gloves and neck gaiter and breathable layers — listen, this is New
England) and going for a run. And I
like that. I like that he sees his mom being active and agile, committed to
things outside of being his mother. The “issue” arrises when he wakes up in the
morning and I’m not there. He does not like that, and he’s not shy about voicing
his displeasure. “You’re not supposed to be wearing those run clothes, mom!
You’re supposed to be still in pajamas!” How
dare I make such bold moves?
The thing is, in the mornings — we’re talking respectable, like 7
a.m. — my kid likes to toddle out of his bed and crawl into ours to snuggle
with mommy. Of course I absolutely
love this. But 7 a.m. (or just before it) is also the best time to hit the road
for my run workouts, to get it out of the way. It's a time to sort through my thoughts
for the writing day ahead.
So it comes down to a choice for me: stay in bed and snuggle, which
means postponing my run and typically my day until later, or go and just tell
that young’un to kick rocks. I’m joking here, but really it’s often a
tough choice for me.
Moms across the board are faced with so many of these small daily choices ... all mounting up and leaving us in a state of chronic guilt and stress.
On the one hand, running brings benefits to my life
and work, and I’m proud that my young son knows, Mommy is a runner.
Plus, having a firm work (and workout) ethic is important to me. On the other
hand, I want to continue to nurture the bond I have with this youngster. We
spend that snuggle time talking about so many wonderful, curious, sweet things.
And on the mornings when I choose running and the little guy doesn’t find me
there when he wakes up, sometimes it throws him off and makes him a little cranky
at the start of the day. He turns his mood around quickly enough, but there are
times when his crabbiness lingers and, worse, the residue of it settles on me
and my morning. It usually leaves me wondering if staying would be not
necessarily better, but just easier.
On the weekends, my long runs take up at least an
hour in the morning — that’s on top of waking up early! When I'm done with the
run, I’m kind of done, spent, tired.
But then I have Family Action Jackson Saturday to consider, which means
errands, birthday parties, park visits, house cleaning, laundry, and we haven’t
even touch on any “me time” stuff that I might try to squeeze in on
This whole juggling act means that I'm constantly making choices. Where will I put in the time? How will I balance wanting to do this, but
also wanting to do that as well? And this leads to trying to reconcile how
I feel about the choice that I’ve made.
I know that this doesn’t fall
into the category of Rock-and-Hard Place decisions, but that shouldn’t diminish
the fact that moms across the board are faced with so many of these small daily
choices, quandaries piled atop other small choices and quandaries, all mounting
up and leaving us in a state of chronic guilt and stress. We’re always turning over
these questions in our minds — even when we should really be asleep at night:
Should I do this or that? Should I stay or go? It’s tiring and totally not
Something’s got to give, even a little. Nike famously said, “Just Do
It.” Yes, but we must realize that this approach also entails accepting that sometimes
you probably won’t do it. You might miss
the birthday party and the pedicure and the snuggle time in the warm bed ...
this week. Next time, maybe do things the other way.
That’s what I’ve come to
see as the finer point here: In choice, there’s choice. And I’m choosing not to
feel guilty or stressed about any of it. Instead, it can be as simple as this: Should I have the chocolate cupcake or the vanilla? Both are
good, and the other one will be just as delicious the next time.