This past weekend one of my closest friends accomplished a very difficult goal through hard work and determination. Rachel, a.k.a. Single Gal’s Two Cents, successfully completed the Chicago Marathon. All weekend long my brain tried grasping the dedication and fortitude it took to go through with such a goal. I reminded Rachel many times how proud I am of her and although she could understand the dictionary translation of that statement, I’m not sure she could really understand the magnitude of emotion I felt for what she was doing.
In many ways running a marathon reminded me of parenthood. The first thing that I know has sustained Rachel through all of these months of preparation was her support system. She joined a running group that met to run but also became a sounding board for her as she experienced highs and lows to her practice.
The support system I have, including my readers, has completely sustained me in some of my hardest parenting days. The mommy friends I have make everything more fun. The friends who aren’t mommies help me remember the person I am separate from kids. The people that give me advice, encouragement and listen every time I’m up against a new parenting challenge could possibly be my sanity in an otherwise insane life I lead. And our families that babysit for us, chase after our children at family functions and love our children are so unbelievably amazing words cannot express.
During the race it was so important for Rachel to maintain a pace. She didn’t want to start the race too strong so that might burn all her energy and not be able to make it for those final miles. Yet she also had a goal to beat a specific time (yes, she’s crazy enough to have done the marathon not just once but twice!!!). So she trained to run a mile in a certain time and as the mileage increased she kept with that same per mile time.
This is a hard one for me. As much as I try to pace myself, I am always on fast mode. Some of that is for the benefit of my children who can’t sit still for a moment. Some of it, though, is my own fault. There’s always some housework that can distract me from sitting down and pacing myself with them. I know as my kids get older and they are more removed I will regret not reading more books with them, not having more tea parties and not playing an extra inning of baseball. I will never look back and be glad I was so efficient with the laundry.
And that brings me to my final comparison. Rachel’s goal was the end result – crossing the finish line. Of course her life was marathon training for months on end but it was all so she could have that thrill of crossing the finish line. For me, however, it’s about the training, it’s about the marathon and there really is no proverbial finish line. In some ways I envy Rachel. To be able to gauge your success so obviously, get there and then clearly reflect back must involve such a great deal of satisfaction. I, on the other hand, am spending my children’s entire existence unsure of myself, never really being able to set a bar where I feel that I have accomplished my goal and looking backwards is sometimes more painful than looking at the “hill” ahead.
At the end of Rachel’s race, she got a metal. At the end of my “race,” I think I’ll get a fat bill for college or a wedding or something equally expensive. I’m grateful for the ride I’m on but in some ways I think I should have just trained for a marathon. Then again, I feel pretty confident I don’t have what it takes to accomplish that. So instead I’ll just celebrate my dear friend for her amazing accomplishment!