Due to a crazed desire to fit into my old jeans, wear a bikini sans a cover-up, look like I somewhat fit in with the undeniably beautiful women who regularly stroll my local neighborhood and the school drop-off/pick-up line, and to make my husband of 10+ years swoon like the old days, I went to the gym this morning.
Also, to be healthy.
And to set a good example for my children.
Those are good reasons, too.
Upon my arrival at the local fitness studio, another member filled me in on the day's workout that would soon be upon us, and it consisted of some time in the weight room, a couple of minutes on the rower, and a 23-minute treadmill run with no recovery breaks -- meaning no stopping or walking throughout.
So here's how that went for me...
I didn't die on the treadmill.
I also didn't bust a** and trip over my own feet and fall off of it, banging my head on the way down, which is a real fear of mine.
I made it.
Did you hear that?
I'll repeat it.
I made it.
I ran for 23 minutes straight.
This is a feat I would have never even fathomed was in the realm of possibility a year ago at which time I hadn't had my butt in the gym consistently (or really at all) for at least ten years.
But, I still succeeded.
My accomplishment did not come without a crapton of doubt, though, and also an abnormal amount of anxiety, some slightly odd fears, struggling (to breath and keep moving), immense effort (as evidenced by my peak heart rate of 193), faith in God, my coach (and the lady on the machine next to me because she'd clearly be the one to jump to my rescue had anything gone ridiculously wrong) and, quite frankly, some self-curated, I-really-have-no-idea-where-it-came-from, ballsy determination.
And, as I was running, and in between my "base pace" and "push" segments, I couldn't help establishing what I would contest is a damn good correlation between a 23-minute straight run on the treadmill and parenting -- specifically, motherhood.
Let me break it down for you --
Motherhood is exhausting.
So is running.
You wonder if you're any good at being a mom.
You wonder if you're any good at running.
You doubt your ability to "mother" well (or at all).
You doubt your ability to run well (or at all).
You love your kids, so you do it anyway.
You love your kids, and you want to be around for them, so you run anyway.
You set intentions and develop a plan to help guide you as you raise your kids.
You set an intention for your physical health and develop a plan to help guide you as you work towards your health goals.
You push aside the pangs of unease that creep into your being through your head and try to corrupt your heart pretty much daily while you travel the path of self-improvement.
You push aside the pangs of unease that your entirely real gym and social anxiety cause because you have to keep moving forward; after all, treadmills don't go backwards.
You're seeing what I'm getting at here.
You see the correlation.
I know you do.
Every gosh darn day I wake up, I feel a sense of overwhelm. Mine, even though it is not as debilitating or inhibiting as it is for some, it's still unpleasant, and it affects me.
What I do to combat the crushing weight that is "the mental load of motherhood" is just keep going.
I keep putting one step forward and crossing one thing off the never-ending list.
The same is true for me when I bring my tired biscuit to the gym and step up on that treadmill which I both very much love and hate.
Yesterday, to get through that 23-minute challenging as hell segment of my day, I quite simply just didn't stop.
That was my only goal.
Just don't quit.
And, moms, this should be our goal for motherhood.
Not to be the "perfect" parent.
Not to raise kids that go to Ivy League schools.
Not to have a child who is top of their class or the basketball star.
Not to keep a super-tight schedule, a clean car and a spotless house.
I can't do those things.
I can't keep up with the Joneses.
But, listen when I declare with conviction that "I DON'T WANT TO!"
I don't want to be faster than the lady on the treadmill next to me.
I don't want to get a better distance than her.
I want for her to get where she wants and needs to go to feel good about herself and I wish for me to do the same.
Yes, it's essential for us to raise intelligent, curious, respectful, empathetic, resilient, and beyond anything else, KIND children.
But, I wholeheartedly believe that if we "just don't quit," we will.
Because we will raise children who understand the following:
That life is not a race to be won.
That you move at the pace that feels right and comfortable to you.
That it's futile to play the comparison game.
That effort breeds confidence and confidence breeds further effort.
That simply showing up for anything or anyone -- and heck, for this crazy life -- day in and day out is impressive as sh*t.
So stop beating yourself up for your self-assessed inadequacies and find a way to hoist your a** on a track -- both in and out of the gym -- and just don't stop.
Motherhood is exhausting.
So is running.
But, the fact is, you would run for well-beyond 23 minutes if your kids' lives were at stake.
It's your life that's a stake now.
Your sense of gratitude.
To be at peace with the world and our (many) roles we play in it, we must accept the challenges we face, do the best we can, and never give up.
If we do that, both on the treadmill and in life, we will make it.
Not only will we make it, but we will also raise children who sure as hell will too because of the f*ckin fantastic example we have set for them.