*Disclaimer. Opinions are like assholes, right? 99.9% of everything that comes out of my mouth is to be taken in a joking, sarcastic manner. The other .01% is facetious and possibly even satirical. If I offend you with one of my opinions I am genuinely sorry. I have a horrible case of foot-in-mouth-itis and lots of strong views and that’s just a recipe for disaster sometimes. I hope you can take the following with the understanding of the place it’s coming from. My own personal opinions and experiences. Again, if I offend or hurt feelings I am sorry and know that that is not my intent*
Before I begin let me define some terms for you.
Mom guilt: A wicked sense that every thing you’ve ever done for your child, nay, every thing you did before even thinking of having children is/was wrong. Also add, feeling as if everything you may do in the future will also be wrong and *not enough*. Led to and collaborated on the creation of such important tools as *Pinterest* and *Gender Reveal Parties*.
Working Mother: Personally, I believe, the hardest job in the world. Add to this a burning desire to torture yourself for hours upon hours of training for endurance events and you have… a badass working mother runner.
Look. I know it can’t always be roses. Let me just leave this right here.
This post solidified itself in my mind while I was doing my very first official MAF summer cycle 4 miler during Friday’s lunch break. I believe it’s been cooking since I listened to a specific episode of the Another Mother Runner podcast during a long run in which Kristin Armstrong was the key guest. I love Kristen Armstrong. She can get a little too spiritualist/hippie dippy for my liking but most of what she writes I can relate to.
A ring finger and a uterus do not a calling make.– Kristin Armstrong. Kristin. My girl. You get it.
But more specifically I’d like to talk about this. I’d like to talk about my story. I would like to talk about how I’m a mom, but that I’m also still a Jenny. I have a unique perspective in that I’ve been a stay at home running mom and now have been a working running mom. I’m also a feminist. Unique perspective right here!
The past week and the 2 weekends before that have been soul crushingly busy. I ran the derby half which required some travel and then immediately had to leave home for a week long work trip in Texas. In the midst of all of that my tiny person turned 2 years old, which we celebrated with a lovely family cookout. I didn’t get the chance to dedicate as much time and effort into L’s second birthday as I would have liked. I try not to let mom-guilt rule me. Sometimes it does manage to creep up behind me and wag it’s finger accusingly in my face. Add to all of this that I got home around 10pm on Thursday night from the aforementioned work trip and at 1:45am L rolled over, (she still sleeps with my husband and I) patted my face and said, “hi mommy”, how could I possibly be mad when she then proceeded to stay awake until 5am. I think she was excited to see me and no matter how tired I was I relished the opportunity to cuddle with her and watch Frozen.
So forgive me if my heart is a little tender right now.
I took the year immediately following L’s birth off from work. After my 4 months (some big companies get it right and YAY for the state of Tennessee, in which I do not live but work) of maternity leave were up I spent a month tearfully commuting to Nashville in the mornings and then sobbing all of the way back home each evening. My husband and I were in a very nice financial position which enabled me to turn in my 2 weeks notice and dive headfirst into the role of stay at home mom. This was mid-summer 2013. As Summer 2014 was coming to a close I began feeling Itchy with a capital i. After a year my husband and I were both growing weary of watching every penny and I was itchy to have discretionary income again. I was itchy to feel fulfilled in a professional environment. I was itchy to have an entire blissful hour dedicated to just eating lunch. I was itchy to take a poop by myself again. I mean. It’s the small things amiright or amiright?
So anywho. Back to work I went. I knew I made the right decision when I didn’t break down sobbing hysterically on day 1.
Being a working mom brings it’s own inherent challenges. Not just for those of us who dream of someday feeling comfortable calling ourselves athletes (I will never be comfortable calling myself an athlete– as I shove this entire sleeve of chips ahoy down my gullet). Being a working mom is just so hard, man. Just this past week I have continually berated myself for forgetting a charitable donation for a fundraiser L’s school was having. Although to be fair, hey preschool– fundraisers… really? IN PRESCHOOL? I love your passion guys, really I do. But shew, I guess I thought I had a few years until it was time to start selling girl scout cookies. My bad.
You have the guys on the right side of the aisle and people like Fucking Doctor Laura Schlessinger spewing such gems as; “if you let daycare raise your children you should have just had an abortion” and my personal favorite, “any woman who wants to work after having a child should have just been born sterile.” These aren’t direct quotes. But they’re close enough to the vitriol I listened to her drop on her wildly popular Sirius XM show. I find it funny that she directs all of this HATE to the working mothers and NONE of it towards the working fathers, but I digress and this is already getting LENGTHY.
You also have the people who will look at you and say, “Oh, I could never be a stay at home mom, you just couldn’t handle it, huh?” No. I could handle it. In fact I handled it all over town and back again for an entire year you jerk. I was THE best stay at home mom. But, and I’ll pull this back to running in a second folks because I do remember who my target audience is, it all comes back to Kristin Armstrong’s quote above. I want to teach L about identity so I make sure to have one outside of her. I’m not saying that a stay at home mom can’t have an identity aside from her children, I am saying that I failed miserably at it.
During my golden year of not being in the workforce I looked at running as my job. I am a middle of the pack runner. I make the F, and let’s be honest, G level sub elites look so much better. Who would you have to beat if my Reese’s fueled rear end wasn’t out there hoofing it along behind you? Nobody. Then you’d be me! Scary thought, huh? I did multiple speedwork sessions per week. I ran long. I got fast-for-me-fast. I ran every single one of my PRs only falling from such glorious heights when I ran myself into an alleged femoral neck stress reaction. I was poised to run well under 2 hours at the 2014 Derby half marathon and because of that injury couldn’t. The point of all of this is that for all of the hours we dedicate to running those hours still fall significantly short of the amount of hours we would put in at an 8-5 job.
Now I work and I’m still doing all of the things I did as a stay at home mom. Plus a 9 hour work day. On Thursday night Lydia slept for 3 hours. On Friday I needed to run. I couldn’t sleep in. I managed to run 4 miles when I really wanted to do 5 or 6. I originally thought this post was going to be tips and tricks to get your run in at any given second. But I can’t write that post because I haven’t figured that out yet. You give me a training plan and one thing is certain, I will probably execute that training plan to about 65% accuracy right now. That’s what this post is about. The fact that 65%, hell, even 40% execution– when you’re a mom and a working mom, is OKAY. It’s a victory.
Because so many running mother bloggers I read are so wonderful and so on point but lots of them are stay at home moms. Lots of them don’t have the unique perspective some of us have. I want to read more stories about successful female athletic goal setters who have children AND day jobs. I need to hear from someone who looks like me.
Let me bring you back to the present day. I bombed all over the 2015 Kentucky derby half. I bombed all over that course and I have lived to tell the tale. I admit that I beat myself up over it. Just a few weekends before I hit a PR in the half on a much hillier, windier (GAWD THE WIND) course. Yes my allergies were acting up and the weather was rough but that didn’t stop me from wanting to self immolate at the finish line. They aren’t all PRs and in this season of my life I can count on just one thing. Perfectly inconsistent inconsistency.
So to that I say, go easy there. Protect that tender heart. Don’t let the negative thoughts creep in. Don’t berate yourself for being perfectly inconsistent during a training cycle. Don’t berate yourself for eating that extra cookie. Don’t let mom guilt sneak up behind you and then wave it’s ugly, hateful thoughts in your face. Give mom guilt the fucking middle finger and move the fuck on. Every time you train. Every time you walk out the door and fight the good fight in corporate America as a working mom. Every time your daughter sees you finish a race. You are winning. You are winning at this working mom athletic mom thing. You are slaying the dragons and taking names.
I need someone to hold me accountable to all of this. To beat the shit out of the devil who sits on my shoulder. Because God help me I am signing up for marathon number 2 and this time I have a goal. I have a very secret goal which I will whisper in your ear if you come closely… I want to be fit enough to run a 4 hour marathon. Then I want to run a 3:35 or maybe a 3:40 marathon. Because I want to qualify for Boston. It may take me longer than some, and it will probably take me longer than Courtney. If it does, Court, you better believe I’ll be driving from point to point from Hopkinton to Boston screaming lewd things and harassing you with a whoopie cushion! I want to be the best working-running-boston-qualifying mom in the entire world, and I ALWAYS hit my goals. It may take years but me and L and the guy in the hat and my best friend and all of the wonderful people that I work with will do this shit together.
It takes a village. I have the hardest job in the entire world, but it is also the BEST job.