That right there is the face of my son. He hates to work out but loves to be on the team. He struggles with putting in the work every day to ready himself for things like Football and Wrestling and Track. It isn’t that he can’t or even that he won’t. It’s more like he puts it off until it’s too late in the day and then decides that tomorrow is another day. He knows how important it is for sure and his intentions are good but in terms of determination for the physicality of preparation let’s say he needs prodding and more support than my other son who looks like he’s chiseled out of marble. That being said, football is right around the corner. Hot practices, awesomely long drills, never enough water for my liking all waiting for my son like a firing squad waiting for the condemned to show up. My son is a BIG boy…a big boned solid 220lb 6’3″ beautiful specimen who just doesn’t like heat or physical exertion. So I worry about him puking and overheating and hurting himself for lack of preparation. Therein lies my effort to make running and workouts sound fun. Very “Mom” of me but I can’t help it! So I took him on my morning run today to get the wheels in motion for getting his wind. I did forget his stupid ankle is still healing from what we thought was a bad twist / sprain that is taking forever to heal. He complained about it when we got back and then I felt bad. He made the entire 3 miles with just a few stops for water and to catch his breath but he made it. I talked to him the whole way to take his mind off the run, encouraged him when I thought he was tiring and jabbered on about stuff that he probably didn’t care about but listened to anyway to get him to the finish. When he bounced back, a giant water, banana and yogurt later, he seemed pleased with himself. That’s the feeling that drives me but it stuck with me the moment I finished that first mile on June 27, 2011 and it does every day. James isn’t so sticky so it seems. He needs some Ductape to stick that feeling to him so he wants to do it again and again and again. When he gets there, watch out! He’ll be scary AF when he takes the field, the mat or the starting point with his disc / jav. I want to be part of the reason he gets there because I want him to truly enjoy what he’s participating in. He likes it but because he struggles with the practice part and the working out part it’s less enjoyable due to the struggle. And lets face it, lugging around 220 lbs makes everything harder, longer and heavier, however, with practice those things get better and easier. I am motivated to help him get there. Today my run, despite the fact that I am actually in training for The Falmouth Road Race, was not about me. It was about another in need so the stops and the slower pace were irrelevant to me. It was all about James and I was happy to make it so. I have learned that I love helping and motivating others a lot. If I were younger I might be a marathon coach says the girl who hasn’t run more than 13.1. LOL! I could totally see me doing it because talking people up during a run to make sure they don’t quit inspires me…drives me…..gives me strength.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s what James and I were doing a year ago:
That’s right! Prepping for football and notice the same exhausted face he has on and the oh-so-happy face of exuberance I’m wearing! I do love running and even more when my buddy James can come with me! Love that kid and I hope we can always pound some pavement together because he makes me feel like I make a difference to him even when I’m a little annoying like the gnat in the summer sunrise on the African plains…ok maybe not that annoying!
This year for my Birthday I got the usual birthday wishes and kisses and some super thoughtful gifts. Gifts that my kids for the first time purchased all by themselves without prompting or being given money. Most of them work now so they have their own money. Although I did love the gifts, it was something else that made me so happy. Something that I feel will be the thing I remember about 47. It was what they wrote in the cards they bought that makes me love them even more.
My daughter wrote how happy she is that I am her mom and how much it meant to her that I loved her gifts. I always love them but she thought of them so I imagine it means more because of that. All the firsts of motherhood came with her and that is something only the first child can claim. So many firsts that I tried to make a big deal of and cheer about and encourage. Many hard days had me wondering if she thought I was a good mom even on the days where I was the “Mean Mom”… she did think that and every kiss and every word she wrote in my card tells me I am so lucky that she was my first child. The one who imprinted what mother – child love is and helped me to love my sons like only a mother can. Thank you Katy for being my first baby!
My youngest son wrote how lucky he feels to have me as his mother and how spoiled he feels he is because of what I sacrifice to make sure they are well cared for and yes, spoiled. Sometimes I have wondered over the years if they know how much I try to give in the day to day so they will someday realize as they have children that A) it can be done B) it is a sacrifice made from love. As I read those words I realized, he knows. So much love reading those words that were unsolicited and written in the neatest print with thought and care to each thing he wanted to say. Thank you James for noticing and appreciating and being the best last baby I could ever ask for. You have taught me so much about love and perseverance and being tough. I admire you and I am a better person because of you.
What my oldest son wrote touched me most. He is headed to college in the fall and I am dreading it. I miss him already and worry about him because I won’t be there. Not because I feel like he can’t take care of himself because I know he can and will…I just feel sad that he’ll be without his family and I’ll be without him for days on end…perhaps weeks. What he wrote made me cry tears of happiness because I know he’s ready to leave and be on his own and I helped prepare him for that. The son who still calls me Mama, maybe because he knows I love it so, wrote three things that to me are the foundational successes that you want your children to reach.
He wrote that he is not “scared” to leave because he feels I did a good job preparing him to be out in the world. He wrote that he knows that I helped him be the man that he WANTS to be (not the man he could be) who is as caring about others as he is of himself. Good boy..you make me so proud. He also wrote that although he will be away from his home that he will always come back to his “safe place” and that he knows the door is open always. I just smile thinking about these thoughts that he wrote in my birthday card. He must know how hard his leaving is for me even though I try not to dwell on it. I don’t want him to be sad. Apparently it’s all ok but he knows in his heart and somewhere deep down I think he’ll be sad about leaving me too. I will miss him so. You are my first son Johnny and you have taught me how to never give up and to be strong and have goals. I began running because I knew you would never let me give up and that I should be strong for you and your sister and brother. You came with me on that first mile and didn’t leave my side and helped me finish something that I don’t know if I would otherwise have. You inspire me.
As I think about all the words from my children I realized that I helped to create a home for my children where they feel safe from all the sadness and hurt that the world can sometimes deliver. They know they can come home and find peace from troubles, smiles to replace frowns and well a home cooked meal any day of the week. I have loved my first 20+ years as your mother and I can’t wait to see the next 20 as you travel the road of adulthood. God has been good to me because he gave me each of you who helps me in different ways every minute of every day. There was a time when I wondered if I should be a mom…now there is absolutely no doubt that motherhood is the greatest gift of all. I sang it to each of you from the moment I knew you were coming and at every opportunity I could and now I know that each of you knows that you are truly My Sunshine.
Sometimes I’ll miss a run because I am too tired to argue or feel that a rest day is best at that moment. Other times my schedule interferes. I have learned to be ok with these days but try not to let them happen too much. This morning I had a wonderful run. It was sunny and a decently cool temperature. I saw fellow runners and high 5’d them all with a big smile. THESE are the days when I love running most. I felt good, my legs were not heavy, I was not gasping for air and I think if I read it right, my pace was around 9:23 or so. WOWEE that’s a great pace for me these days of going slower. A huge boost for my day. Last night I did not run but not because I couldn’t. Because I saw something more important…my child. He had a crappy day and without being THAT person, I’ll just say that Karma takes notes. If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s those that purposely go out of their way to hurt people. My son is good at brushing it off and making like it’s all ok and he will be, but last night it was more important for me to be in his audience than to be on the road. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to give and lift others up. Although it wasn’t a “pinnacle” event or graduation day itself which is coming soon or even a moment in the spotlight in front of 600 people which we just did, I felt that it was important to change my plans just to be there because sometimes just having someone near can comfort you. So I’ll attribute my awesome run today as a reward for sacrificing last night even thought it wasn’t a hard choice. Last night was a life moment that will stick with him and with me. I remember those moments as a young adult and I would not do them over for anything. I run through them now and my kicks and music comfort me so I don’ t come apart at the seams when it all goes to shit. Running is my lifeline to happiness, joy, therapy and perspective. It teaches me lessons and is like my good friend who is always there for me.
I’ve learned that everyone needs something to hang on to that keeps them from losing their mind. Perhaps you might say DUH! but truly this is a lesson that I have not only learned the hard way but only learned to accept over the last 1,777 days. This something can be anything really as long as it has long, deep tethers to your soul. This is the something that keeps your nose above water, your feet on the ground, your eyes opened and your will to keep going. This something tucks your smile away when you drop it so when you are actually looking for it, you have it. The something that reminds you to take a breath in when you forget that you need to and the something that reminds you that you are human and no one is perfect. The something that brings you back to center when you wobble…and believe me I wobble!
To have that “something” in your life is a gift. I believe everyone has it even if they haven’t discovered it yet. It’s the something that makes you better and makes you keep trying to improve and it’s the thing that must be accepted as needed. I come from many years of not admitting that I need things. I never come first, I will make due with what I have so others have what they need. I would NEVER, before these 1,777 days, admit that I needed anything nor would I ask for help or say the C word- can’t. Can’t is weakness and weakness is a flaw that I choose not to “have” despite the fact that I do have weaknesses and in fact I do need things. I would just never admit it… but there is one thing (ok, three) that I DO need and they are the something that everyone needs to propel them through life.
My somethings are my kids. They make me get up in the morning. I can’t wait to talk to them about everything that happens every day and I miss them terribly when they are not around. My kids are my batteries, they make me go. They are the reasons that I found the courage to run when things in my world plummeted to hell. They make me want to be a better person and they make me want to try harder in everything I do. They lift me up so high and make me so proud of who they are and how amazing and wonderful they have turned out to be, each in their own special and unique way. They are the very breath that I take in and the life in my body. I love them so.
With every step I take on the road, even when I can’t go every day, I try my best to be my best because I would expect it of them and I know they expect me to live up to my own expectations of them. They make me see things in a half full way. I don’t shy away from rain running because it’s just an inconvenience not a problem. I run when it’s cold because fresh air is good for the soul and layers fix chilly runs. I run in the dark because I feel fast and invincible. I run often because my legs work and I can. I run through it when I feel like my legs are lead or I’m struggling for breath because there are those who cannot run. I run in the heat because I sweat more and work harder. I run I run I run because my children are right there with me cheering me on telling me to press on because I can do it. I run because my “somethings” are with me. They dragged me along in my head and heart and soul….not letting me give in when I wanted to quit this funny ride called life. They are ever present and all encompassing to me and with every beat of my heart I fill with joy knowing I am the luckiest person in the world to know such wonderfully inspiring people.
In life we all need a something. People, things or even thoughts that propel us. I have been propelled through jobs, experiences and even half marathons which I remember telling a co-worker that I would never ever do. I have done these things because my somethings were nudging me along. I can do anything with my somethings. With my somethings I am amazingly strong willed and successful. My somethings make me happy. My somethings keep me grounded and they always keep me striving to be my best. Find your something and life will never get you down!
I have always been in tune with the fact that God exists. I know he works in mysterious ways because I have experienced it a few times in my life when I needed something or needed to be given something. When I was torn about having children, I was given 3 copies of the same book by different people. The story was about three women: one wanted kids, the other didn’t and the third wasn’t sure. Tell me that wasn’t a sign 3 kids later. When I did the ultimate and told the Lord I was doing things my way, he promptly delivered one of the hardest and poignant lessons smack dab across the face. I will not be smiting the almighty anytime again in this life. As I work my way past things God delivers what he knows i need whether or not I want it. It’s what I need. I made a promise just this week to let something very painful go and move on to find my happiness. I promised him I would try. This is not to say that I wouldn’t stumble the entire way. In the last week, when I feel angry and begin to slip back to anger and nasty words he has delivered two very clear messages to me in the form of other peoples misfortune. On is the story of Joey and Rory
This wonderful couple are about to be separated sadly because Joey is losing her battle to Cancer. It is tragic and brings tears to my eyes because you can see and hear in their music how much they love one another. I think about them and then use that to be extra grateful for all that I have that they are losing and still they speak of only the good they retain from the pain. God bless them and their little 2 year old baby who will be without her mom soon. Nothing I have to complain about is even remotely close to worthy of even one word of negativity when I think of their true struggle.
The other is the story of a friend of mine who gives back to help grieving children who have lost parents. He lost his father and brother on the same day in a car accident that he was the sole survivor of. These stories surround me and were delivered in such a scarily timely manner for a very specific reason. They were given to me to remind me to be grateful for what I have and to stop complaining! We all should be grateful for the good in our lives and should cherish those we love because tomorrow is unknown. Life is hard, unfair and only as wonderful as you choose to make it. Your glass is half full or nearing empty but that is all in your “perspective” which is what life is all about after all. Perspective reminds me that I have it all and I choose to get up each day with as much “Hell Yeah and No Regrets” as I can even on the days when all I can seem to find is a little “woop with a drab side of humph”. I try and that is all I can ask of myself every day… that and a few miles to make it all better. What is your glass?