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How does running make me a better parent?


I was at a violin recital last night for a friend’s kiddo. After dinner and the lovely music, the kids went upstairs to play and the 5 remaining adults drank wine and let the conversation get grown-up. We talked about travel and music and our favorite books and, yes,  it devolved into silliness which is so important for parents who often hear their kids belly laugh, but rarely experience the sound of their own giddiness.

At some point in the conversation, our host says to her friend something like, “Laura is amazing! She runs long distances, she crochets — she crochets BASKETS!– she blogs, she cooks, she works, she’s a mom, she was in the Air Force, blah blah blah….etc” It’s like she had this list at the ready and it was filled by both things I had done in my life and things I do now. The list made me feel a few ways.

1. Old: Not it the I’m-an-old-geezer way, but in the, “gee, I’ve done a bunch of stuff” way

2. Busy:  As in, I should subtract a few things and maybe I would be less stressed

3. Lost: Like, who am I exactly?

This led to my 5:00am thoughts and questions like which one of those things is most “me?” And what does “me” mean? Is it the thing I’m most passionate about? The thing I have the most fun with? The thing I DO the most? The thing that vibrates all my inner spiritual woo woo love vibes? Um. Hmm.

For the sheer sake of doing it 24/7 (or at least feeling that way), I would have to say “mom” is the thing that is most me in my life. Mind you, I’m definitely passionate about it, there are some woo woo moments and it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. It’s not the most “fun” though all the time. I recently skimmed an article (mother + reading = skimmed) about how parenting doesn’t really bring parents fun, laughter and happiness in the way other things in their lives do and that parents often feel guilty about that. Of course, parenting brings lots of giggles and tickling and hit the ball out of the park proud, teary-eyed moments of joy. And there a lot of barf, poopie, “stop it!” and step on a Lego moments. Regardless, mom is something I will be the rest of my life, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s taught me the  most about myself and, as tough as it is to do both, it pairs perfectly with running.

Running makes me feel like I can be the parent I need to be in the tough moments

Not just the barfy-poopy moments, but in the ones where your kid is hurting or deeply sad or confused and you yourself aren’t sure what to do. It gives me courage and endurance and pain tolerance. Bring me your sharpest Lego piece, camouflaged on a green carpet in the dark and I will step on it and scream in silence so as not to wake anyone up at 9:00pm! Bring it on. I ran today.  I can do anything!

Running also gives me the biggest feeling of being alive

And that alive feeling helps me tap into what my kids feel like being kids. I have heard that, in life, we are supposed to do the thing that makes us forget what time it is. For me, that is running. I don’t mean literally, of course, I usually need to be home by 7:00am to get the family day going, so I’m well aware of the clock. But in my heart, there is no watch and I could keep running. It’s the thing that makes me feel like I’m 10 years old and zipping down the street with my friend Tammy in my high-top white roller skates with the loud metal wheels click, click, clicking over the evenly spaced cracks in the perfectly flat suburban sidewalk. We would only come in for dinner when it was dark. Time meant nothing.

Despite having a sore hip, this morning’s 7-miler filled me to the brim with aliveness.

One of my favorite quotes reminds me why my passion is important

It’s from Howard Thurman.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

To be honest, I struggle with this one. As troubled as the world is today, going out and doing “my thing” seems selfish. But, as I hung out in the park yesterday with my kids playing basketball and riding the merry-go-round after my enlightening 7 miler early that morning, I was reminded that coming alive is very much what this world needs.

How does running make you feel?