First, I’ve only run one full marathon. This picture was taken at the finish of the 2007 Colorado Marathon. I’m the short one (which is strange, since I’m 5’10”!). Second, I’ve only had one child. He’s 9 months old. So, I can’t really qualify myself as an expert at either thing–marathons or mommying.
However, I have run my fair share of half marathons–including both trail and road races. I’ve run some pretty crazy mountain passes & trails, run in every kind of weather, and have been running since cross country in high school. I also made it through a pretty gruesome 28 hour labor and taught classrooms full of teenagers for 7 years, so I’m not exactly a novice either.
The other day, as I was pushing Easton along in the Bob for our most-days-of-the-week, slow 5k-or-less run, I was remembering how our birthing class the instructor said to think of labor like a marathon. It wasn’t the only place I’d heard that expression. “Think of labor & delivery like a marathon.” Have you heard it? If you’re a veteran mom, you know. But if you are a new, expectant mother, that saying is not exactly true. I’ve started thinking about the many ways in which Mothering and Marathoning are similar, and I came up with this list:
1. Labor IS like running a marathon. Only, you should think of labor as the first half of the marathon. Or maybe the first quarter of the marathon. Or maybe even just the first mile. I’m still running, so I’ll let you know when & if I ever get to the finish of motherhood what fraction of labor & delivery it actually is. Think of labor as the stooopid race that starts with a freaking ridiculous hill. Like the Horsetooth Half Marathon. You have to suck it up and run the hill. And then you have the rest of your no sleep, diaper changing, late night nursing sessions still to run.
2. No matter how much you train for your race, no matter how much stretching and visualization you do before the start, it will still not go quite how your expect it. I learned this lesson during labor fairly quickly. We took 3 months of birthing classes, and I read 1,483 books about natural labor. In the end, I finished with a healthy baby boy, but like the mileS of my marathon that I walked despite vowing that I wouldn’t, I wound up delivering with more interventions than I knew existed. And again, that was only labor. I’m quite sure that trips to the grocery store with a toddler in tow will rival an episiotomy & tearing, or mile 23 of 26.2.
3. Running and Motherhood are painful. They are painful and for people who are gluttons for punishment. But they are also rewarding in an inexplicable, powerful, life-changing way.
4. Some mornings, you wake up and do not feel like running. But then you put on your shoes, and after the first 5 minutes, you start to feel alive, and like the world is beautiful. Same same with being a mom.
5. Speaking of mornings. You will wake up limping and in pain from marathon running or training. You will wake up hunch-backed and crook-necked when you are a mom. For both, try to sneak in yoga as you can.
6. Non-runners and non-mothers won’t quite understand you. They might admire your dedication for running so far, or think your child is adorable, but they won’t see either the way that you do. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just the way it is. Running marathons isn’t for everyone. Neither is motherhood. Kudos to those who realize this.
7. Running makes you fit. I know surviving on toddler leftovers and wee bits of sleep might not seem to make you fit, but motherhood makes you use muscles and mental capacities you might not have previously known existed.
8.When you run a marathon, you finish one step at a time. You don’t know exactly how the race will go. When you become a mother, each day is one step in the race. You can plan all you want, but there will be many steps you take that aren’t quite how you plan.
9. In a race, you will pass some people. You will also get passed. In Motherhood, some women will live Pinteresting lives. Some mommies won’t even make it out the door in the morning. Maybe the morning mom is you-with greasy hair and a pajama t-shirt & dirty jeans; hugging a crying baby who has one shoe on and one unfound, under the couch. Try not to focus too much on either mom–the “perfect ones” and the imperfect ones, the ones whom you pass & the ones who leave you eating dust. What matters most is you & your little one.
10.Finishing a marathon makes you feel like a superwoman. Giving birth does too. Heck, sometimes even just surviving a day makes you feel like a superwoman. They should give medals and pint glasses at the end of hard days for mothers, right?!