Calling all marathon runners! I mean, moms. Not a runner? No worries, this is still for you. Let’s hone in on the motherhood marathon of raising a firstborn. That inaugural race. Nobody told me I’d be running a race when I had my first baby. And they definitely didn’t tell me that I’d be getting trampled by time. Because every single year, the pace picks up, and I struggle to keep up.
I can hardly utter the words without a small lump in my throat, but I only have two years left with my oldest at home. TWO. YEARS. It has sent me into a rapid frenzy where I’m floating between panic and pride. There’s no possible way I’ll be launching my beautiful baby boy off into the realities of this wicked and wonderful world in just two years. The PANIC. But alas, I am. And deep down, I know he’s on the cusp of taking off with every ounce of readiness that I’ve been fueling into him since the day he was born. The PRIDE.
My oldest is a sixteen-year-old gem. Truly. He has been my best buddy since his debut. Life’s circumstances and the many things that he and I have been through together created an immeasurable bond between us, one that has consistently revealed new layers with each age and stage. Starting with his first smile to mobile movement, couch cuddles, movie nights, building LEGOS, and teaching him how to catch a ball. Now those moments are spent grabbing a burger, laughing at memes, and trying to crush each other on the tennis court. Our relationship has evolved, but it still means the world to me when we do stuff together. So, my heart tends to bend when I think that that list will become fewer and farther between until it’s mostly all a memory. And I can say with utmost assurance, nothing can prepare me for that juncture.
As moms, we play many roles in our children’s lives from the day they’re born until the day they leave the house. We wear all the hats and do all the things. Even the things we don’t want to do.
A marathon is 26.2 miles. I’ve never run one before, and although I run, I have never had any interest in training for a marathon. But this motherhood marathon? I’ve been all-in from the start, and quite frankly, I don’t want it to end.
Do you know what happens after you run a marathon? [I don’t, but I have friends who have]. You often pick up a cold or a minor infection because your immune system has taken a beating. Your muscles are strained and left with micro-tears. You might even walk away with a small stress fracture. You are often dehydrated. You’ll probably lose a toenail or two. And when the fatigue settles in, your body is sore, tight, and immobile. It all adds up to some major physiological trauma and can take a few weeks to fully recover. Yes, a marathon is trauma to the body, no matter how much you trained or how good you felt along the way. When it’s all over, you are left with sheer exhaustion.
It all sounds really delightful, doesn’t it? Why on earth would someone want to subject themselves to that??! Because do you know what else happens? You get bragging rights because you just accomplished an incredible feat. Completing a marathon is an epic achievement. You’ve loved your body enough to see it through such a battle. You’ve built confidence in your strength, physical and mental. You’ve gained humility and perseverance. You’ve overcome fear and mastered some pretty impressive focus.
The eighteen years of raising a child to become an adult are filled with some comparable fatigue. Some moments immobilize you. Strain, stress, and sickness. And definitely some times of trauma. But it comes with lessons. Lessons of love, confidence, humility, dedication, fear, and focus. Sound familiar? I think so. Because raising another human who is prepared to take on the world with their best foot forward is a pretty epic achievement, if you ask me.
So, if no one told you that you’d be running a race after you had a baby, let me be the one. Ladies, lace up those sneakers. Whether you like to run or not, there’s no getting around it. It is definitely a race. You will lose your breath. You will find yourself fatigued. And you will most likely trip and fall. But you’ll get back up. You’ll uncover that second wind. You’ll keep going. And, you will cross that finish line.
Except it’ll feel like you just took off.