Prior to having children, if you couldn’t find me, I was probably running. I wasn’t winning races, but frequently taking home age-group awards fed the part of me that loves a gold star. My circle of friends kept me on the roads. Some people meet their friends for dinner; I meet my friends for runs. It’s a huge part of my life, as it keeps me mentally and physically intact (a main driver for my sanity).
Fast-forward over three years, two children, a full-time job, being a wife, mother, daughter, niece, cousin, and friend later — getting my runs in has evolved into a sort of art. When my daughters were newborns, I was eager to run as soon as my doctor gave me the go-ahead. I ran, but I thought I needed to be out/back quickly because I felt selfish leaving them to exercise. I ran more by myself than with friends. The thrill of picking up an age-group award felt very far away. After three years of this routine, I realized part of my identity was missing.
I was ignoring the fact that running provides an outlet for me, in addition to being a game I really enjoy playing. I find I sort through the challenges of life on my runs, all while keeping myself in good physical shape. With the rush and love of motherhood, I had pushed a critical part of myself aside, and I wasn’t a good version of me.
About three months ago I pulled running back in to my life. I started picking up the running habits I had before children but refused to entertain after I had them because of guilt. This means getting really creative as to when I can get a run in. Sometimes it is before everyone gets up or after they’ve gone to bed. Sometimes it’s during a lunch break from work at a job where I’ve always been chained to my desk.
With every passing day, it becomes clearer that life is a constant game of balancing your priorities without forgetting about yourself. To someone who thrives on a schedule or repetition (we all have that toddler still living in us don’t we?), that can prove extremely difficult with motherhood and the rest of life.
Since I’ve shuffled things around, I’ve truly been my better self.
It’s surely harder some days/weeks than others. However, I feel fortunate to have a supportive village behind me. It’s been eye-opening to see my girls actually enjoy and understand that I go out for runs. They enjoy coming with me (in a double stroller) — and they want to run themselves. I love when my older daughter asks, “Mama, did you have a good run?” Or when my younger daughter is running around the house saying, “I’m a runner, I’m a runner.”
My goal isn’t to have them become runners (although I’d love that) but to show them commitment to a passion. For me, it’s turning some attention back to something truly part of my identity. It’s about giving some time to something that fills me up so I can conquer whatever life brings me on a given day.
I’m not here to tell you to start running — there are as many passions and hobbies and creative outlets as there are mothers. I write this not only for all the mothers who put everyone ahead of themselves, but for me — to remind me what I need in order to be my better self.
What makes you your better self, and how will you make it a priority today?