I like to say when I became a mom everything changed and nothing changed. Everything changed because a tiny bit of heaven landed in my arms. I instantly altered my waking and sleeping, my eating and standing, my car habits and bra types to meet this new person’s specific needs. My perspective on all things shifted. From news stories to savings plans, I suddenly had a fresh filter from which to process. My work, sleep, schedule and comfort, landed in different places on my personal hierarchy of importance.
At the same time nothing changed. I was the same woman the day after the baby was delivered as I was the day before. I had the same education, life experiences, personality and quirks. I was married to the same man, lived in the same house and still preferred my coffee with cream.
Everything changed and nothing changed.
Other moms often ask me about ambition and identity – you know wanting something beyond your kids. Is it OK? How do I manage it? Is there a formula for balancing these two parts of me? And I think of the marathoner.
Let’s all imagine for a moment that we used to be moms who ran marathons pre-kids. For some of us, this will be an easier assignment than others. (Count me in the group that considers this a real stretch. Because why run when you can drive?)
Before babies, we were able to fit our training around the other demands of life. In fact, it was maybe even our main priority. Long runs didn’t need to be negotiated with child care and when the milk was coming in next. We looked at our schedules and worked in those sessions around meetings and dinner plans.
Then kids arrived on the scene and those four hour runs suddenly felt impossible. How could we possibly make the indulgent (i.e., selfish) push to do something purely because we wanted to? Or were better for it? We started feeling anxious that we weren’t getting out there. Angry even? Resentful, maybe, that we couldn’t do that thing that make our hearts sing?
And here is what I say to us: maybe this isn’t the year of the marathon, maybe this is the year of the 10K; where our new goal is to do a 10K every month. No long training runs required. Shorter stints that can be done with kids in the jogger or while they are in the gym child care, or on the treadmill for 20 minute segments while Doc McStuffins babysits in the other room. I say to us: there is a place where motherhood and that passion intersect – we just need to find what it looks like.
Because we are still runners.
This isn’t about remembering (aka fantasizing) how we used to do things. We all need to get use to the fact that sleeping in is not going to be a regular part of our lives for the next few decades. Marathons might be though, just maybe not this year with the toddler nap schedule, the preschool schedule and our own work schedule. Maybe this is the year of the 10K.
God made you a runner (or fill in whatever other thing truly brings you joy). This is the part of you that did not change when someone handed over the baby. How that passion plays out and fits into life with littles around will look different than it did before. Find that intersection and rhythm that works.
Because you are still a runner.
This did not change. How it plays out might.
Alexandra Kuykendall has changed/not changed four times over. She is the author of The Artist’s Daughter and Loving My Actual Life and co-hostess of The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast. Her newest book, Loving My Actual Christmas, releases in September.You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.