For a week I've been trying to find the words to express the feeling of sending your child off to school for the first time. My first feeble attempt
only partially described how I was feeling that day and the days that have followed. I was too emotionally overwhelmed to find the right words. And then I read the post of a blogger
I've long followed and I had to share. Though her son is starting junior high and mine is going into kindergarten, her words rang so true. And not just for big milestones like kindergarten or junior high, but also for grade 3 or 5 or 10 or any other time you send your child out into the world on their own. Without you. I'd wished I've read her blog post on paper so I could go back it with highlighter and then dog ear the page. This, my friends, is truth:
"Like I’ve been doing for three weeks now- I let him out of the car. I let him walk away from me and toward that huge building filled with PEOPLE AND DYNAMICS AND IDEAS and other horrible wonderful things that will break his heart and MAKE his heart and that I have no business trying to control. I let him walk toward a life that is HIS and not mine. Toward experiences that he is meant to have without me. Toward journeys he has to take alone.
Someone needs to create a word that describes what happens inside of a mama’s heart as she’s watching her child walk into a school building. We need a word for the feeling that overtakes her after saying goodbye to her infant who is somehow masquerading as a young MAN and who is walking away from her into his adolescent life. A word to describe the phenomena that is a mother sitting helplessly in her empty van while her heart silent screams her dailyPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!! PLEASE be good to him Please see his strengths and overlook his weaknesses Please sit by him at lunch. Please smile back when he smiles. Please want to be his partner. Please be gentle. Pleasepleaseplease.PLEASE.
And how as she watches him walk away- toward the unknown of his day and away from the KNOWN of her (SO BRAVE! HOW DID HE GET SO BRAVE??? IS THIS LEVEL OF INSANE BRAVENESS EVEN WISE????) her head understands that the world is unfolding as it should. Her head KNOWS that all is well. That he is beginning his LIFE and that LIFE in all its bruty is what he came here for. And that he is ready. But her heart will not receive that memo. Her heart wants to run after him and pull him close and say: JUST JOKING HONEY! WE MADE A MISTAKE! THIS IS TOO MUCH! Come home and we will stay together forever and I will make sure that life NEVER HAPPENS TO YOU. Don’t worry. We will snuggle forever. Because I am not ready.
So she just sits in her empty van for a moment- holding up the car line for a split second too long. Her body is temporarily paralyzed, short circuited by the opposing messages from her head and her heart. The mixed messages SWARM her being and all at once she feels pride and fear and terror and excitement and hope and hopelessness and tenderness and ferocity and loss and gain. All these emotions swirl until her heart becomes so swollen that it threatens to escape out of her throat into tears and so she instructs herself to snap out of it. She shakes herself a bit. She breathes deeply and shrugs it all off and she drives away. And on her way home she tries to restore her heart to its original size by thinking of other things. Practical things. Because it’s all too much. Whatever that feeling is- it’s a lot like looking right at the sun. It’s simply too bright to stand for longer than a moment."
You can see more at: http://momastery.com/blog/ It is definitely worth a visit and I'm pretty confident that you'll end up pouring a coffee, pulling up a chair and staying for awhile. Thank me later.
Let's talk running...again. This time though, I wanted to mention some of the items that have helped me along the way. And by help, I actually mean products that have made my training even possible. If the conditions are not perfect, it will annoy me and my run will suffer. That means my earphones can't fall out, socks can't bunch, hair can't bounce, shirt can't flap, shorts can't give me a wedgie. And if they do, I can't run.
Here are some of tricks I use to make run far less annoying.
- Speaking of earphones, these babies are MAGIC. They fit snuggly in your ear and do not fall out or shift or move whatsoever. They go for about $29 but are worth every penny. Dan bought them for my birthday last year and I loved them so much that I bought him some for his birthday a few months later. And then I stole them back from him because I lost mine.
2. Sports bra - You'd think this one was obvious, but poor planning can lead to a less than supportive bra and some very unhappy girls.
3. Good shoes
- I cannot stress this enough. Do not buy whichever shoes that are on sale and cross your fingers that they'll be right for you. I learned the lesson the hard way and have had some severe knee pain as a result. If there is ANYTHING to spend a bit of money on, it's your shoes. Go to one of those specialty shops like Running Room or Fleet Feet and have them watch you run and then suggest some shoes. I have purchased my last 8-10 pairs this way and they have yet to make a mistake. Good shoes are key.
4. Kinesiology Tape - What was unheard of a few years ago, now is all the rage in preventing injury. I was a non-believer myself, but after trying it, it makes running with patellofemoral syndrome possible. Even last night, as I finished up my first 16 km run, my knee wasn't screaming at me. In fact, it actually felt...ok. Placebo effect or not, I don't run without taping my knee now and I'm actually coin it pain-free.
5. Run: Speed Shorts by LuluLemon
- I saved the best for last. I cannot say enough good things about these shorts. I have a tendency to run with my legs fairly close together. So much so that wearing regular shorts while running any decent distance would be painful because the seams on the inner thighs would rub together and chafe my skin. LuluLemon shorts offer a simple but completely brilliant solution. They make their shorts with "chafe-resistant flat seams designed to save sweaty, sensitive skin from irritation" and they aren't kidding. These shorts have been thigh savers from day one.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my list. Until then, what running products can you not live without??
Little known fact about me: When I was a kid, I was a sprinter. I was crazy fast. The track team invited me to join in grade 3 (Jaia’s age now!) , a full year before kids were normally allowed to be on sports teams in elementary schools. At the time, I was running the 100m dash and the 4 X 100. And I did pretty well considering I was 3-4 years younger than some of my competitors.
At the time, I remember watching some of the kids run the 1300m races and thinking I could never do that. In a sprint you give it all you have from the first second until the last. 100m is not very long and almost anyone can run that distance unassisted. But 1300m? That seemed like a marathon to me.
As the years passed, my interest in athletics changed. There weren’t a lot of opportunities for me to join sports teams, but keeping and staying in shape became very important. And there was no easier (or cheaper) way than running. And quickly enough, I went from running 100 meters to 5 km.
For 10 years I was happy at that distance. I have a fairly weak knee that kept me from doing much more. But there’s nothing I like more than a challenge. So I upped the ante and signed up for my first 10 km race. At the time, it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. A friend though, was running her first half-marathon. The thought of joining her made me laugh out loud. Never, ever, ever in a million years could I do that. The 10 km race nearly killed me. And that was that.
Fast forward to a few years ago, and that bug to challenge myself bit me again. I first staved it off by competing in a 100 km bike ride. I was uber proud of myself for finishing, but it just wasn’t enough. Cycling wasn’t my sport. Running was.
And that was it. I knew I had to do it. Maybe a one-time deal, but that half-marathon sat on my bucket list staring quietly at me for a few years and it turns out that no matter how hard you try, you just won’t get any younger. The time was now or never.
A hip injury changed my plans last year, unfortunately, and so this year I promised myself that there would be no excuses. And so, on September 21, rain or shine, I’ll be lacing up with a few 1000 others to compete in the Army run.
I’ll be honest…this is the first ‘training’ I’ve ever really done. For anything. Even for the 100 km bike ride. I thought winging it would turn out fine. And it did. Sort of. After that first ½ hour off the bike that made me wonder if I would ever walk again, I was, well, fine.
But this is different. There’s no coasting when you are running. You run (or walk) or you don’t finish. I’m not the fastest runner (funny, coming a former sprinter) so for this race, I’m just hoping to finish. Crossing the finish line to see my family standing there cheering me on is medal enough.
I’d be lying if I say that I’m not doing this for selfish reasons. I want this. I want to scratch it off my bucket list with gusto. But I’m also doing this for Jaia and Wes. So they can be proud of me for something (also selfish) but also to show them that with a little (or a lot) of hard work, they can do absolutely anything they put their mind to, no matter how impossible it once seemed.
School started this week. Both kids were ready. The parents were ready. School supplies were purchased. New outfits meticulously chosen. Breakfast requests were received. Lunches were even made (GASP!) the night before!
We walked Jaia to her class and Wes to his. Jaia had friends run to the door in sheer delight that she had finally arrived. Any anxiety she had melted away.
Wes, on the other hand, was excited until
he got to the door and until reality set in. He became a little clingy not wanting to leave our side just yet. He, like his mama, likes to take it slow and absorb his surroundings before diving in. He watched the others play "What time is it, Mr. Wolf" for a few minutes and then I got the hint (from the tough as nails teacher) that it was time for me to be on my way.
And then I lost it.
Thankfully, I was wearing sunglasses and sadly (but also the timing couldn't have been better) a little boy took a tiny tumble and all the kids and the teacher ran to his rescue and I was free to slip away unnoticed. I went to the car and sobbed (and I mean SOBBED) for 10 minutes before I could actually drive again.
I truly thought that it would be easier with the last child than the first. It was not. For over 4 years, it has been mostly Wes and I, together, alone, every day while Jaia was at school. I suddenly realized that he would be spending most of his time with others and not with me anymore and I just felt sad.
Today was better. I still felt a little sad (watery eyes instead of sobs), but i watched as he walked right up to a little boy and started talking to him about his Lego shirt. Wesley will be fine. Great, even. I know he will. I knew he would yesterday, too. And maybe it is the knowing how he needs me a little less now that has made this transition harder than I expected.
Change is hard. But change is good. Since we can't keep them little forever, we might as well celebrate the big moments along the way, even if we have tears in our eyes as we send them off into the world.