I am a goal oriented person. For some crazy reason I enjoy setting difficult goals and then trying to accomplish them. For instance, a little over a year ago I had the goal of getting my second masters. Why!? Hence, why I have not written anything (other than countless pages of research papers) for almost a year. I am proud to say that I just finished my first year of my second round at grad school—and I love it. I hardly sleep and therefore am more often than not a bit insane, but the Taylor family is tough and we are managing.
I also had the goal of running a marathon at the age of 30. I trained for the Memphis marathon that would take place last December. Since I am a goal person, I did not miss a single training run and drove through an absurd ice storm to get to the race. The night before the race I ordered a large bowl of pasta and then proceeded to receive the notice that the race was cancelled—I guess ice, fallen trees, and temperatures with a wind-chill well below zero are not conducive to running. Cowards. So instead I ate the pasta, had ice cream, slept in until 10 am, ate the rest of my ice cream…and enjoyed a weekend of consuming way too many calories instead of expending them. On the way home from the marathon-fail, I signed up for the Austin marathon that would take place in February. So my marathon training resumed, and I begrudgingly ran the long miles to prepare yet again for my first marathon.
February came along and all four Taylors loaded up in the mama-van and made the 8 hour drive to Austin. On Sunday morning I rolled out of bed from a sleepless-anxiety filled night, washed my face, put on my running gear, ate a wheat bagel with some peanut butter, and left my three sleeping boys in the hotel room as I walked to the starting line. I was ready to run.
As I put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles, I made several observations about running and being a mom—two things that make me who I am. Surprisingly there are several commonalities between marathons and moms. Here are a few…
I would like to pretend that my first observation while running was something warm and fuzzy. But no. My first observation was that people poop and pee everywhere. If you have ever run a race…you know what I am talking about. On a normal day, one would find it strange to see someone squatting in a bush…but on race day—completely expected. Anytime I ran by trees or bushes, I was sure to see a fellow runner who just couldn’t make it to the next port-a-potty. Being a mom is just as classy. As a mom, I talk more about poop and pee, sing songs and make up dances to help them “go”, sit holding their hand for an HOUR as they try to poop, pull over on the side of the road to let my three year old pee, and as a mom, I signed away any sort of privacy while I use the restroom. A common sign that spectators held during the race was, “Never trust a fart.” I wish I was warned that the same is true with kids…
Another observation I made is that people start drinking way too early—both spectators and runners. At mile 10 some spectators were offering runners shots of alcohol…and runners were taking them! At least wait until mile 25. Goodness. A handful of people offered beer to runners, Jell-O shots, you name it. It is almost as if spectators are thinking, “This runner looks like they are in pain…let me help ease their pain by offering them booze.” I couldn’t help but think as the miles passed how, as a mom, I’m sure people have looked at my face and wanted to offer me a drink.
Races would not be as rewarding without the spectators cheering you on. Same with being a mom—it is next to impossible to do it alone. I need encouragement. I need a village. I need my people. Spectators wake up early in the morning, hold embarrassing signs, and cheer you on as you run the race of your life. It would be near impossible to run a race without them. One sign read, “Smile if you are not wearing any underwear.” A mom could hold a similar sign saying, “Smile if you don’t have time to wash your underwear.” Another sign read, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.” Chuck Norris never gave birth either. Someone held a sign that said, “Pain now; pride later.” As a mom, I wanted to yell “Amen!” Whether I am running a race or running after my two little boys, I need people cheering me on. We all do. And desiring the encouragement, the people, the village does not show weakness—it shows courage. It takes courage to ask for help. It demonstrates bravery to admit we cannot do it alone. It gives my boys an example of what it means to look after one another, to love others well.
I finished my first marathon in 4 hours and 26 minutes. It hurt like hell. There were minutes, miles that I thought I couldn’t make it, that I wondered why I was even doing this in the first place, when I wanted to give up. But in all honesty, I would not change a single thing about it. With every sore muscle, black toenail, early mornings, and hours upon hours of training, I would not change a single thing. I did it. I ran my first marathon. The journey, the training, is what made finishing so rewarding. And I am dang proud.
Being a mom is the same for me. It often hurts like hell. There are minutes, hours, often days that I think I can’t do it. There are times as I am cleaning up the umpteenth mess, asking one boy to stop licking his brother, asking the other boy to pay attention to his brother, wiping bottoms, kissing boo-boos, that I wonder what I am doing. But in all honesty, I would not change a single thing. I am doing it. I am a mom raising two boys. It is the process—the tiring hour upon hour process—that makes me better, challenges me, and refines me. And I am dang proud.
I signed up for my second marathon because there is something addicting about running and races. I love it—despite my complaints, my ugly feet, and tired days… I love it. But I need the encouragement. As a mom, I need the encouragement there too. We all do. There is something addicting and magical found in the messiness of raising kids. Something ordinarily beautiful.
So whether you are a spectator of a race or of a mom, join her by cheering her on in the race of her life, hold an embarrassing sign…but maybe hold off on offering her a Jell-O shot because she might just take it.