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Forgiveness

I’m looking through you, where did you go
I thought I knew you, what did I know
You don’t look different, but you have changed
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same
Your lips are moving, I cannot hear
Your voice is soothing, but the words aren’t clear
You don’t sound different, I’ve learned the game
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same
Why, tell me why, did you not treat me right?
Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight
You’re thinking of me the same old way
You were above me, but not today
The only difference is you’re down there
I’m looking through you and you’re nowhere
—The Beatles

My decision to share such a personal part of my life publicly was not an easy one.  I’ve kept this journey mostly to myself and a few close friends and family.  After all there is no need to air my family drama for the whole world and I still do not intend to do that.  My main purpose in writing about it and deciding to share it is because I have a feeling there may be a few others who are currently going through something similar or will be one day and maybe my insights and mistakes can help them. Also, its therapeutic for me to write about it.  I will be telling my story in a way that does not relive the drama and does not defame anyone because I don’t think that would be very helpful. Also, I believe in the Commandment to honor thy father and thy mother.  Its a commandment that I personally struggled with a lot in 2018 in trying to figure out what it meant in my situation.

So I’ll take you back to a Saturday in March, 2018.  My house was totally quiet.  Both girls and my husband were all upstairs napping and I had just sat down too.  My phone rang and it was my mom and my heart immediately started to pound in my chest and I got that awful feeling in my stomach.  Something was wrong.  I just knew it in my bones.

Several days before that Saturday my dad had called me to wish me a happy birthday.  I took the call and it was fine.  He was happy and nice, but I still remember quickly passing it onto my kids because I just had a hard time talking to my dad.  The truth is this had been building and building for years and had been growing worse and worse by the month.  I prayed and I prayed and didn’t know what else I could do.  That Saturday, we were supposed to have dinner with them to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  No, that’s a lie.  I was dreading it.  We picked a restaurant so that we would have an easy out.  I felt more in control if we were somewhere public.  It had been that way for a long time.  I dreaded the visits, the phone calls, the holidays and the kids birthday parties because there was this dark shadow of uneasiness that loomed every time I knew I’d have to see my dad.  This Saturday was no different until that phone call came.

The rest of the night is a total blur that was spent mostly not sleeping but a few minutes here and there when exhaustion finally overtook me.  Lots of crying on my part, and not just crying but big, heavy sobbing.  The evening and the wee hours of the morning were interrupted constantly with the buzz of my phone going off and my heart pounding each time trying to mentally prepare myself for what they were going to tell me.

The next morning, I realized that I was done with this.  It was all just too much.  And I couldn’t mother my children when I was so wrapped up in this chaos.  I had finally had enough.  If he wasn’t going to do something different, I was.  I was tired.  I was angry.  I was emotional.  I was a lot of things.  So I told my dad in no uncertain terms that he was no longer welcome in my life.  His reply of “Done.” seemed to agree.

I wish I could say that the next several months were full of peace and healing but they were not.  Just because I wasn’t speaking with him any more didn’t mean I was escaping the constant chaos.  My mom and sister were still in his life and it was over the next couple months that my mother and father eventually separated.

From March to July I had frequent heart palpitations.  They always seemed to hit me when I was finally sitting down and relaxed and then my chest would just start pounding in a severe and uncontrolled manner that would scare me and my husband.  They only lasted several seconds and then they went away but it was happening a lot.  I’ve had these before, so I knew what they were. I’ve noticed they tend to be more frequent during times I’m under a lot of stress.  I had more during those several months than I’ve ever had in my entire life.  And it wasn’t just that.  I wasn’t sleeping.  A lot of times it was because there was something going on and I still felt like I needed to help.  Other times my mind would just focus on things when I was trying to sleep and not let go.  I started having vivid flashbacks to things from my childhood.  Mostly painful memories with greater detail than I had remembered before to the point that I was questioning my entire childhood and having a hard time thinking of any “good times”.

My mom started proceeding down the path of divorce and she has Multiple Sclerosis and hasn’t been able to work for several years due to the progression of her disease.  I was trying to help her find a place to live that she could afford with her disability income and the money she might get from a sale of their house.  I was trying to come up with the best long term solution for her and I was incredibly stressed out by all of it.

Besides feeling like I needed to help my mom, I was also the full time caregiver of our own young children and trying to keep up a house and a marriage.  In short, I was at the verge of burn out.  I knew I was doing too much, but I also felt a lot of responsibility.  At church we’ve talked a lot about how its our duty to be caregivers to our parents.  I was also trying to heal from the pain of my estranged relationship with my dad.  I wanted to talk to a therapist, but when would I go??  It would cost us $30 per session out of pocket and my oldest was starting Kindergarten soon and I’d rather put those funds towards her gear/clothes for school.  In short, I was my very last priority.

I made another mistake and called my dad.  Why? I started to doubt my own convictions and feelings and thought maybe I’d give my dad another chance.  I’ll talk later about how misplaced Christian guilt can play into us feeling like we need to reconcile with someone much sooner than we actually should.

So I allowed a “brief” meeting a few weeks later for him to see us and my kids at our house.  I was incredibly nervous about it the whole day.  My dad came over and even though the words being exchanged seemed right, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t seem different and nothing felt different than it had before.  He had sworn that he was changing, but I immediately just didn’t see it.  I felt uneasy the entire time and couldn’t wait for him to leave.  Yet I had a hard time telling him it was time for him to leave.  I always felt like I was walking on eggshells around my dad. Even as an adult at my own house with my own family. I just was scared to say/do anything that would upset him because I never seemed to see it coming.

Then, just a couple weeks later I would see that the relationship was just never going to be what I wanted it to be.  He was who he was and I couldn’t change him to be the father that I wanted.  And I could no longer accept him as he was.  The only person we can change is ourselves and that’s what I had to do.  I told him once again that he was no longer welcome in our lives.

I wish I could say it was easy and went over well.  The truth is that neither of those things happened.  It was very hard. Yet, for the first time in my life, I had no doubts.  I knew I was doing the best thing for myself and my family and possibly even for him.  Now that its been 9 months, its getting easier.  But its still not easy.  I couldn’t see his family at Christmas because I knew he would be there.  That was tough.  A lot of people that know me also know my family and its been hard to know how to handle things when and if his name comes up.  You don’t want to say too much, but I also don’t want to give the impression that everything’s fine when its not.

In other regards things have been much, much easier.  Once I got through the initial phase and started living my life again, I realized how much of an affect he had on me previously.  I wasn’t just less stressed out, I was HAPPIER, I was a better mom, a better wife, a better friend because I wasn’t spending so much emotional energy on him.  I didn’t go to therapy.  I did do “self” therapy and when I broke my leg and had to stay off my feet I had a lot of time to do some reading.  I read some great books and several religious blogs that have really helped to heal my heart.  And taught me that I’ve been an enabler for many years.  I’ve prayed a lot. I’ve even found the new skills I’ve been developing have been helping me in so many other relationships like in my marriage and with my kids.

Christmas time was a huge joy this year without this dark shadow looming over me.  And I’m not angry at my dad anymore.  I’ve forgiven him in my heart and I pray for him every day and truly hope that he lives his best life possible.  I want only good things for him.  Yet I do not wish to have him be a part of my life ever again.  That may seem harsh to some.  I do believe that all people are capable of changing and that nothing is impossible with God.  Yet, I also believe that God gives us free will and in order for people to really change, they have to want to change and they have to soften their hearts enough to let God in.  My dad could change, but I don’t think he will.  I don’t think he wants to and that’s ok.  Its his life and he is free to live it the way he wants to.  Its up to me to say that we are not going to be a part of it as it is today.

So is all this Biblical?  I believe that it is.  I’ll use several examples from the Bible to explain my views further.  Here’s what the Bible says about forgiveness:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.–Matthew 6:14

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.–Luke 6:37

I could go on and on.  Scripture mentions forgiveness so many times that its not hard to find example after example.  Forgiveness is at the very heart of Christianity.  The fact that Christ took on the sins of the world and died so that we may be saved.  Many Christians, myself included get caught up in these vicious cycles because we are trying to do “the right thing” and forgive people as we are forgiven.  The problem is that you can’t just pick and choose verses and apply them without understanding the Bible as a whole, and therefore getting to the heart of God.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are separate things.  Reconciliation that happens before a true change of heart happens just enables a person to hurt you over and over again. Just because they’ve apologized and promised never to do something again it doesn’t mean they have really changed.  Often times, these patterns play out over and over again over several years as the relationship continues to deteriorate to the detriment of both people.  The person who promises to change is only saying the right things but not actually doing anything different.  So here is some more Scripture to think on.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.–Revelation 21:18

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].–Ephesians 5:11

Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. –1 Corinthians 15:33

Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.–Proverbs 25:26

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.–Matthew 18:15-17

So clearly there are also instructions on how to keep from people who can harm you.

In my own situation, I had been hoping all these years that my forgiveness and support was going to ultimately lead to change in my dad.  Unfortunately, that was not happening.  This was proven to me over and over and over again.  And to what end?  I was emotionally fragile and hurt and exhausted and he was the same exact person doing the same exact things.  Basically I was enabling him to keep hurting me.  Had I understood the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation sooner, maybe things would look much different now.  I can’t go back, I can only move forward.  I want to share a Biblical story here that I believe illustrates this point I’m trying to make:

In the story of Esau and Jacob, twin brothers, we see that Esau lost his birthright to his brother Jacob through some trickery and family deception.

Esau becomes so angry with his brother that he wants to kill him.

At his mother’s urging, Jacob flees to a distant land. After 20 years, while Jacob was learning some tough lessons of his own, God tells him it is time to return. There’s a lot more to this story that I’m leaving out to be concise. When Esau and Jacob eventually do meet again,

“And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept.” Genesis 33:4

20 years is a long time to go by without seeing or talking to your family. In Jacob’s case, the time away was beneficial to him because he was tricked and cheated and faced plenty of hardships that ultimately led him to humbling himself before God and his brother. Jacob’s transformation was so astounding that God gave him a new name, Israel.

Jacob wasn’t ready to be the person he needed to be without that time spent learning these tough lessons. He had made his brother so angry at him that he literally wanted to kill him. It’s hard to think about “abandoning” family members when they’ve hurt you for whatever reason because we feel like it’s our duty to help them. Sometimes people can’t be helped but need to learn tough lessons themselves and experience pain and hurt on their own to help them be the person they are meant to be. When we continue to reconcile and keep bailing people out, it deprives them of the chance to learn the tough lessons they need to learn. And for Esau, carrying around that kind of rage was not good for him either. Just as it isn’t good for us when we keep “forgiving” people that hurt us but still feel that anger and carry it with us all the time. Sometimes time and distance is truly needed to let you forgive others with a true heart and also finally let go of the anger that you may not even realize you’ve been carrying around for sometime.

So how do you know when and if its time for forgiveness and/or reconciliation.  Well, forgiveness and reconciliation, as I mentioned before are two separate things.  Forgiveness comes from the heart.  Its letting go of the pain and hurt and anger that someone caused you and letting God handle it.  Forgiveness is freeing, for YOU.  It lets you move on with your life without carrying that anger.  It also means you have no ill will or feelings of wanting revenge toward the person that hurt you.  I have no ill will toward my dad.  I pray for him daily, as I said.  In my heart of hearts I want him to be happy and live a good and long life.  I also do not desire to tell everyone that knows him or me all the things he has done to hurt me.  Its helpful for my own healing to confide in the people closest to me about the situation, and maybe someday to a counselor or other person that I trust.  However, I’m not taking any pleasure in going around and trying to bring down his name.

Reconciliation on the other hand means a restoration of the relationship.  Maybe to what it was before the separation, maybe with some new boundaries to keep yourself safe as you wait to see if the changes are really there, or hopefully to something even better.

Reconciliation does not always happen, nor do I think its always the right thing for either or both parties.  So how do you know if you are ready to reconcile with someone and give them another chance after years and years of hurt? How do you know that someone really has changed or if they are just saying what they say to re-gain your trust.  The answer lies within the heart.

Some people when faced with consequences for their behavior will be motivated to go into “compliance”.  They will say they are sorry and they may even break down and cry and really sound sincere.  And sometimes they really ARE being sincere in their remorse.  Yet that doesn’t mean they are actually going to change.

For true change to take place, its not enough to just feel remorse or regret.  They actually need to lay down their old life and their previous self and become someone entirely new.  It happens.  I believe with God all things are possible and a true transformation CAN absolutely occur.

If you want to know what this really looks like, I think a perfect example is reading about Jesus’s disciples before the crucifixion and then after. Their complete transformation shows they are completely different and it’s proven time and time again through their persecutions and eventual executions. They don’t waiver or once go back to their old habits.

Most people unfortunately don’t change. Even if they claim to find God. The person may go through a period where they know they are being watched and will do the things they need to (compliance) but soon start to slip back into old patterns and behaviors.

Its really hard for us to see inside another persons heart and know if they are truly changed or if they are just trying to “win us back”.

History can be a great indicator for us.  If a person has repeatedly repented and then gone back to the same behaviors over and over again, it is wise to not be wholly convinced that THIS time they truly mean it.  They need to show us over time that they truly are different.  This is in the way they talk to others as well as what they say to you.  Just like the disciples, the transformation should be so evident that everyone can see it. No matter how they are tested they will never go back to old patterns of anger and manipulation.

A person that is truly changed is not going to say one thing to your face and then complain about you and your unwillingness to forgive to anyone that will listen. A person who truly is changed is not going to try to rush your healing and demand or plead or try to guilt you into a reconciliation because it benefits them. They are not going to give you excuses for their behavior or simply just “apologize for all the times they’ve hurt you.”  They will be willing to call out each offense in painful detail.  They will understand that years of lies and hurt have damaged the relationship to such a degree that a mere apology and promise to change are not going to be enough anymore.  They have to prove over time that they are changed.  And they are willing to go the distance.  Whether that takes one year or five or 20 years.  They are patient with you in allowing you time and space to heal.  And if you’re never open to a reconciliation they are willing to let you go because they truly care about you and what is best for you.  Most of all, they will not use God or God’s grace and forgiveness to manipulate you into a reconciliation because they think its time.

I will link some great online resources I’ve found explaining in greater detail what I’ve learned.

As for my dad, I don’t think we will ever reconcile. He continues to reach out to me through letters and to me it’s very evident that no true change has taken place. Not only am I choosing to protect myself from further hurt from him, but I’m choosing to protect my children as well. That’s my duty as their mother.

How would it make them feel to allow them to develop such a close relationship with him only for them to realize when they are older that he was not the person they thought he was all those years? And what if he hurts them the way he hurt me? And how do I tell them that they should never allow people to treat them a certain way when I’ve allowed my own dad to treat me that way for years?

It’s a tough thing to do and I’ve had a lot of really low lows in the last year and longer. However, I firmly believe this trial has been for my good. I’ve learned through this trial that my one true Father loves me beyond measure and alone can heal my brokenness. And I can be a help to others going through similar situations.

If anyone wants to talk further with me about this, please reach out and let me know. You are not alone in your journey. While for me, this person is my dad I know the same rules can apply for a spouse, friend, boss, co-worker or any other relationship that brings you down and takes all the emotional energy from you. We can’t change other people, we can only change our behavior to keep them from continuing to hurt us.

links to online resources:

To Forgive Doesn’t Automatically Mean To Reconcile

 

What is Repentance?

How Can You Tell if Someone is Sorry – For Real?

 

How Can You Tell if Someone is Sorry – For Real?

Understanding the Difference Between Compliance and Change

Genuine Repentance

 

 

“To every thing there is a season; and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

–Ecclesiates 3, 4

Its been 7 weeks today since I broke my fibula.  Before I get into how its doing and all the ups and downs that have been happening, I need to say that its been so much harder than I ever thought.

When it first happened, I felt guilty because I was crying in the car trying to decide what to do.  Tears were streaming down my face, Taylor in the back seat and I was trying to think clearly and make a decision.  Do I take her with me to the ER?  Do I try to wait for an appointment?  There were naps to be had and kids to be picked up from the bus stop.  The tears just kept coming as I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to do that 6 mile run I wanted to on Saturday and how I didn’t even know how I was going to take care of two little kids on my own until my husband returned the next day from his work trip.  “Its just an ankle!” I told myself, “Its not life or death, buck up buttercup.  Ankle’s heal.”

Had I known just how hard, physically and emotionally the next 6 weeks would be, I probably wouldn’t have even tried to stop myself from crying.

My biggest mistake though was that I was trying so hard to be positive.  I know people who have and are still going through things much much harder than this, so I felt like I just had to be thankful that this was all it was.  Yet having a broken leg while trying to care for two small children is REALLY, really hard.  But I was bound and determined to get through it with a grateful heart and a smile on my face.

I thought the lesson I was supposed to be learning from all of this was to be more appreciative of the things I took for granted.  Its true, just before it all happened I was feeling completely overwhelmed of everything I had to do with my oldest starting school for the first time and my husband traveling and me trying to redo our master bedroom by myself.  So life told me to sit down.

I hate being a burden to anyone, especially my family.  I see myself as the server of our family, not the one getting waited on.  Not only that, but I hate being an emotional burden just as much as physical one.  I didn’t want to bother everyone with my sorrows.  So if I felt like complaining I kept it to myself.  I didn’t let them know everything I was feeling inside.  Truth be told, I didn’t even allow myself to wallow in self pity.  When the negative thoughts came, I could always come up with an “at least…”

But that made it so much worse.  I had no outlet for all the things I was going through.  My normal stress reliever (running) was taken away from me.  For the first couple weeks I was not allowed to bear weight at all.  This is a HUGE challenge when you are taking care of a two year old by yourself all day and your house is full of stairs.  I did the best I could, but I couldn’t not put weight on it at all when I had to somehow get my toddler upstairs for her nap.  The scooter I used (that I was so thankful for) put tons of pressure on my lower back and by the end of the day I was in horrible pain and would just lay on a heating pad.  I wasn’t sleeping well because there just isn’t many comfortable positions to sleep in with a broken ankle.  As a stay at home mom, I’m used to getting in 5-6 miles on non-running days just by playing with my kids and cleaning the house, so to go from that to needing to sit around all day, was not easy at all.  My body was used to being in constant motion–and I liked it that way.  I realized after all this time that my former job of sitting at a desk for the better part of 9 hours a day was not really meant for me.

Once my two weeks were up, I was told it was ok to start walking in the boot, but that I should rest as much as possible and let pain be my guide if I was doing too much.  There’s so much I could say here about pain tolerance and athletes and how this may not be the best approach for everyone.  I did my best to stay off it as much as I could but after two weeks of not doing hardly any housework I was pretty eager to jump back into action.  The problem with the boot is that its really big and heavy and the height of it didn’t line up with any of my shoes.  My running shoes were too short, and I wasn’t even going to attempt to walk in heels on my healthy foot.  My Dansko’s felt the best, but my healthy foot was slightly higher than my leg with the boot so after two days of walking my hips were waking me up in pain at night.

Finally I found a product on Amazon that you wear over athletic shoes that is adjustable that can raise your shoes up to the height of the boot.  It seemed to help my hips, but my right knee (the one I injured training for the Riverbank last spring) started to ache.  This was all leading up to my appointment at 5 weeks post fracture that would leave me in tears again.  When I was told that my fracture wasn’t healing at all.

Ok.  I had had enough.  I was trying to keep my composure.  But inside I was raging.  What the what?!  How could 5 weeks of doing NOTHING all be for naught?!  This was a serious low and I could no longer hold it all inside.  I had a tearful conversation with my husband where I finally allowed myself to let it all out.  And he listened with empathy.  And I felt a little better.  Then a conversation with my long time friend.  These people get it.  Its hard.  No, its not the hardest thing to go through.  Plenty of people have it worse, but that doesn’t mean that this is a walk in the park (I’d LOVE a walk in the park BTW).  Its hard and sometimes it feels good to unload some of that burden onto people who love you and care about what you’re going through.  It doesn’t mean that you’ve lost sight of perspective.  I still can find plenty of things to be thankful for.  It also doesn’t mean I’m turning into someone who is always down on their luck, always looking for the negative no matter what the situation.

That weekend I was in a grumpy, mopey state.  And that’s ok too, we live in a culture that tells us we should never be sad and provides plenty of distractions from our feelings (literally) in the palm of our hands.  I rested, and I got angry and I felt sorry for myself, and then when Monday rolled around it was a new day.  I got up, I took my boot off and appreciated the small things and set my sights on my short term goal.  To be able to walk with my girls on Halloween for trick or treating.  I’m happy to say that that goal was accomplished!  1540841930483Someday, I’d like to run a marathon again too.  In the meantime, I look forward to just being an active participant with my family.  Maybe I’ll be able to do a short, easy run by Christmas.  We’ll see how it goes.  Having short term goals helps me to realize the small victories and celebrate them as they come.

So maybe part of the lesson I learn through this experience IS to appreciate things as they are more.  I’ve also learned that its ok to rely on your support system too.  That a good cry can make you feel better every once in a while.  And to always hold onto hope that a better season is just around the corner.  And I will praise God in the good seasons and in the bad.

I also think it benefits our kids to see how we handle the tough seasons.  Alex just melts my heart every single time she prays and she asks God to heal my broken ankle.  I realized that I had not prayed for my own ankle even once.  I felt like it was such a minor thing to pray for.  Now I’ve started praying for my own ankle too and not feeling guilty about doing so.

If any of my friends or family is ever going through a hard time, please know you can talk about it to me.  Its ok to be sad sometimes and its ok to talk about it.  And don’t forget to pray for yourself too.

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

–Jeremiah 17:14

A Day in the Life Post-Thanksgiving 2016!

I had a blog years ago when I was a first time mom and struggling with my colicy baby.

Years later, now a working mom of two, life is so different and so am I!  I’m just going to jump right back in with a day in the life post.  I always like readying these and seeing what other people’s daily lives are like. So here goes.

Continue reading

Why we need running more than ever!

Last year I remember watching the news on the day of the Boston Marathon in horror and disbelief. 

 A lot has happened in a little over a year for the world as a whole, and for me personally as well.

 There has been a media buzz around the famous bandit runners in the 2014 Boston marathon who copied a girl’s bib she posted on Instagram and used it to run in the race and even accept medals.  The response from the general public has ranged from strong defense of the “harmless” act to outrage and disgust, especially given the context of this year’s emotional race. 

 One of my friends created a facebook group “Runners Support Group” and started a conversation among other runners asking what their opinions were on the matter.  As expected, people’s opinions were varied, but one girls comment inspired my whole post today!

 She was shaming us for even talking about something so frivolous when there are much more important issues the world faces today like harsher punishments for rape and child abuse.  “Move on to something more important people” she said.  I found her comment to be reeking with unearned self-righteousness.  I mean…its “Runners Support Group” if you want to discuss harsher punishments for the atrocities in the world, start your own facebook page and leave ours alone!  Why the need to take time out of her presumably much more important life, filled with constant servitude to shame us all for talking about such a trivial topic?

 Those first thoughts aside (and I couldn’t help myself but ask her why she felt the need to comment), it got me thinking about why it hit such a nerve with me.  I guess because it really bothers me when people think running isn’t important?  Then I thought more about it and remembered a time not too long ago when I had those same thoughts and feelings…and not coincidentally, running of all things is what snapped me back into reality.

 So why is running important?  Isn’t it just another narcissistic way to worship yourself by attaining an ideal physique and showing off for everyone?

 It may appear that way to those that do not run, never have run, or even to some runners (or maybe unfortunately they DO know someone who runs and it has left them with this impression about ALL runners).  There was even an article recently in the New York Times(?) about why runners feel the need to show off and put bumper stickers on their car and the likes. 

Through my 17 years as a runner, I have definitely seen much more of the good, than the bad.

Running gives so much more than it takes.  The obvious health benefits most people are aware of.  Running burns lots of calories, it improves your cardiovascular system, helps you retain more muscle as you age thus slowing the decrease in metabolism that leads to creeping weight gain over the years.  Then there’s also this:  Running changes lives. 

 Some people may think about the man who is obese and has a multitude of health problems and starts running and loses all this extra weight and ends up happier and healthier.  Yes, that absolutely happens and it is a good example of why running is important, but that is just one example.

 What you don’t think about as often is the victim of domestic abuse, who finally escapes with her children from the evil hands of her husband and still feels powerless and afraid.  There are running groups that help these women get shoes and running clothes and coach them and see the changes that they make with every step.  With each mile they gain a little bit of confidence.  They feel a little more empowered and are eventually able to take their lives back and end up coaching other women to do the same.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

 Or the inner city kid who has been taking care of himself since he was old enough to remember.  He’s scoured the dumpsters for food when he’s been hungry.  He has the option to join into the street life, but someone provides him with shoes and develops his talent and believes in him.  He is able to go to college and get out of that lifestyle and then give back to other kids like him.

 Our how about our culture which constantly teaches young girls that anorexic models with no muscle or body fat is the idea?  Then you have a program like Girls on the Run that teaches them to love their bodies and nourish them instead. 

 I was tearing up reading an article in Runner’s World about little people with dwarfism and how two of them were going to be the first to cross the finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon.   All the struggles they went through to get there, only to not be able to cross that finish line because a couple of losers decided to commit murder.

 There’s the One Run Fund that was created in the aftermath of such a tragedy that ended up providing prosthetics for those that lost limbs (along with so much more) on that fateful day so that these people could walk and run again and take back some of what was lost.

 There are so many numerous charities that are supported through races.  Too many other examples of how running changes people’s lives in a good way to list them all.  So I’ll talk now about what it has done for me!

 Last summer before my daughter was 6 months old, a co-worker and friend who was also a father to three children under the age of two passed away suddenly.  He was a good person.  I battled with so many questions.  Why was he taken away from his family when there are child abusers out there allowed to live?  Why was I here and not him?  It could have been me, it could have been anyone.  

 Suddenly the things I had been struggling with internally (lack of sleep, my running suffering, trying to balance work and being a first time mom and keeping myself healthy) seemed to be of little importance.  I struggled with it for a while.  I did continue to run during this time but I dropped my mileage considerably and told myself I was only doing it for the health benefits at that point.

 Running actually snapped me out of this thought process.  I was having a hard time dealing with my emotions over the whole thing.  I had a lot of anger, a lot of fear (because nothing was certain) and I was carrying around this overwhelming sense of guilt.  I felt like because I was still here, I had to appreciate every. Single. Minute.  If I felt myself starting to complain about something mundane I immediately felt guilty for it and felt like I could never get mad at my husband, especially over trivial things and as a result I was totally bottling everything up and it was making me crazy inside.  I finally went for this run where everything was quiet and I was finally able to feel my own emotions and deal with them instead of pushing them away as unimportant.  I came back and felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I can’t say it fixed everything…I still struggled for a while, and to be honest…I still do sometimes.  But the more I ran and allowed myself to realize it IS important and WHY its important, the better I was able to deal with the really tough stuff in life. 

 Running was there for me a few years ago when I almost lost my dad to a heart attack.  I remember those few days when we were taking it all one day at a time because he certainly was not out of the woods yet.  I remember going through the motions, talking matter of factly with doctors, helping take care of my mom and feeling numb through a lot of it.  When I ran and it was just me and the streets I couldn’t hide from my feelings.  In this age of thousands of tv channels and computers and smartphones and all these other distractions that allow us to stay numb, running and being alone with yourself and your thoughts is more important than ever.

 I remember doing a 10 mile race that Sunday (My dad had a major heart attack in the “widow maker” on Saturday) and thinking “Why am I even here?  I should be with my dad, or I should be helping my mom…or, or…”  But I had told myself that I was going to win an award and bring it to my dad and tell him that I ran it for him and that I wanted him to BE THERE at my next race.  I ran better that day than I had run in years.  I remember ticking off the miles, pushing through the pain, thinking about my dad and allowing the pain throughout my body because it felt good to FEEL!  After I crossed the finish line my husband was there and I remember as soon as I saw him I ran over to him and just started weeping in his arms.  The run had brought out all the emotion that I was scared to face. 

 I’ve seen the changes in people that have become runners.  They generally become healthier, happier and find other ways to live a better lifestyle.  Its not for everyone.  I get that.  For those that have found it and love it, it is unbelievably important. 

 If you ever have the opportunity to watch a race, and see the people that bring up the rear, I suggest you do so.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5K, half marathon, marathon, whatever distance.  You will see something amazing.  You will see people that you would never pick out as a runner pushing themselves, pain on their faces to that finish line and realize how its so much more than crossing a spray painted line in the road.  You will see cancer survivors that have taken their lives back and see the people supporting them with tears in their eyes because there was a very dark time in the past when they never thought this day would be possible.  You will see fathers and mothers and children and people missing limbs or running with a huge limp.  For me, its more inspiring to watch these people running a race than the elites who are paid to show up. 

 Our society seems to have a tech obsession where we are always connected, yet I keep reading we are more isolated than ever.  Not the runners!  I see couples out to dinner, both of them glued into their smart phones and find more often than not its easier for me to text someone or send an email than pick up the phone and call them.  When you’re running with people you are forced into conversation.  Maybe that’s some of the reason why some of my running friends also end up becoming some of my best friends.  We get to know each other below the surface of facebook statuses and Instagram photos and talk about the things no one else sees. 

 Because of the way running unites, I’ve become friends with people that otherwise I never would have known, or at least not in the way I do today.  I’ve run with people with completely different political views than my own, people with completely different types of jobs, people with much more money than me, people with less money than me, people who are educated and uneducated, people who are slower than me, people who are faster than me, people who inspire me and people that I inspire, it doesn’t matter!  We have running in common if nothing else!  And believe me, to keep a conversation going with someone you just met for over an hour takes a deep level of human interaction and sometimes more compassion than we’re ever forced to deal with in our normal daily lives.

 Frank Shorter just recently opened up about the child abuse he endured at the hands of his father and how he coped with it through running.  He said he felt like he finally needed to speak, after all these years of silence in case it helped one kid who was going through the same thing.  

 Most of the runners I know are kind, happy, compassionate people that find true joy in helping others.  I think we need much MORE of people like this in the world!

 So there you have it.  That is the long version of why running is so important.  I could make it even longer if I really wanted to, but I think most people will get the point.  Keep running friends, and lifting up those who run and those who don’t around you.  I know that I’ve done a lot more good for humanity through running than I ever could have done on my own!  

And since running a race has become such a great way to raise money for great causes…I’ve been researching hosting a virtual run for a friend that I ran with in high school.  Her daughter that was born about 6 months after my daughter was recently diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy).  Right now, there is no cure.  There are plenty of hopeful clinical trials going on and my friend needs help to pursue these things for her beautiful baby girl.  As another mother, I know there is NOTHING a mother wouldn’t do for her children.  If there is hope out there, we’re going to go after it! 

I’ve been collecting some info on how to get started in this.  If anyone has any experience they could share with me it would be much appreciated.  I’m thinking maybe a facebook page is the best way to start.  Trying to figure out how to handle people paying.  Leave a comment if you have some info! 

The First Year!

I wrote this a couple months ago when Alex turned one but life has been a little too chaotic to find the time to post it with pictures and stuff, so here it is!

I have a one year old!

It has been such an amazing year!  If I could summarize all that it was the best way to do it would be a silent film with all these little captured memories playing on a projector.  I’ll do my best with some photos, but the sum of all these memories creates something so beautiful its very hard to put it into words.  I’ll try my best.

Becoming a mom has been by far, the very best, most hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I stand here today, a year later in a body I barely recognize, a face with more wrinkles, yet a fierce strength more intense than I ever knew I had.

The only thing that’s been easy in this journey has been loving her.  Cameras have captured a small fraction of the moments.  You see the two smiling parents in the hospital, holding their love in their arms.  You can see the joy, but you can’t feel the fierce love, the fear, the struggles.  You don’t capture with a lens the pain of a woman who had just had a c-section and had her infant taken away from her while she vomits and shakes alone.  The “referred pain in her shoulders that the narcotics she’s on can’t seem to touch.  You can’t see the worry she feels for the infant that she carried lovingly for 9 months in her womb that is now empty and she has nothing to do but wait.  The joy as the baby is finally placed back in her arms and gets to nurse for the very first time.

So here goes.  My first year as a mom.

That first night in the hospital, beyond exhausted but can’t sleep a wink because I just want to stare at my new beautiful baby because nothing else in the world will ever come close to this moment ever again and I don’t want to miss a single second.  The first diaper change that happened at midnight.   Two new parents struggled in the darkness to figure out what to do.  Just how long does it take 2 new parents to change a poopy diaper?  About 20 minutes.

The next few days, amidst all the visitors I try to get the hang of nursing and end up with bloody and bruised nipples and continue to smile lovingly as everyone else wants to hold my baby.  The craving for a shower when the nurses won’t let me when more and more people keep dropping by and I’m feeling so gross.

The first time I witnessed my baby writhing in pain and couldn’t help her.  The looks on the nurses faces when I l burst into tears while watching them trying to take samples of my baby’s blood and see the bruises on her tiny little hands from all the previous attempts.  My sweet baby red and screaming in pain.  The first of many moments that truly broke my heart.  The tears that won’t stop and the realization that I  would go through the pains of labor every day if it would just to take away this pain for her.

The absolute joy when the doctor tells you that your baby does not have your infection and that you are able to take her home after 5 long days in the hospital.

That first car ride home when Tim and I exchanged glances in disbelief that there was a baby in the car with us.  To know that we were both thinking “What do we do now?”

That first night at home when I slept in 5-10 minute increments while Tim and I took turns putting the pacifier back into the her mouth wondering how we’re ever going to continue this insanity.  The notes we kept in our little notebook recording every feeding, which side of the breast, the length of feeding, the number of wet and dirty diapers.   The feeling of pride when the doctor said he is impressed with my baby’s weight gain.  The frustration and the worry when she screams and screams and nothing will soothe her and I can’t shake the feeling like something isn’t right.  The desperate phone calls to the doctor.  The elimination diets.  The medication and the waiting.

The hours and minutes and seconds both day and night of walking all around the house with a crying baby, wishing someone were there to tell me what to do.  Feeling guilty that I don’t have the “mom” instinct because Ican’t figure out how to calm my own baby.  The advice everyone gave that I tried and the disappointment I felt in myself when it didn’t work.  The guilt I felt over not being happier.  The feeling like I was all alone.  The moments when I cried silently because I realized the days of carefree spontaneity are over, and the guilt I felt over that sadness for such an insignificant thing.

The exhaustion.  The bickering.  Then that first actual real smile that took my breath away.  The quiet moments when she’s nursing and holding my hand.  Those diaper changes at 2 am that go through 3 diapers at once.  The desperation to leave the house alone and have some time to myself that results in just hurryingto the grocery store and then having my milk leak when the cashier can’t check me out fast enough.

That very first run.  How it felt so very awkward and unnatural at first and then after a few minutes I got right back into my groove and it felt soooo good.  The moment when I returned home and stood on the stoop and took a deep breath before going back in.  The relief I felt that I did miss my baby, even after only a couple miles.

When I finally felt like I was starting to get the hang of this parenting thing!  Then I went back to work.  The way I enjoyed going back to work and worried that made me a bad mom.  The way I watched the clock, counting down the hours until 5 pm when I could go home and see her again.  The way I checked the daycare monitors online at least 30 times a day those first few weeks.  The way I worried when she got that first cold.  The way I watched the clock tick away in the middle of the night until morning.  The coffee.  The pain relievers.  The hours spent in the private little lactation room pumping away.  The way I began to dread the night because I knew that I wouldn’t get any sleep.  The long drive home from work when I would blast my music and try not to fall asleep.  The full body pain I started having after months of extreme sleep deprivation.  The fear of making mistakes at work because I couldn’t seem to ever remember what the heck I was working on 5 minutes ago.  The bickering that has more to do with lack of sleep than anything else.

The big, wet, slobbery kisses.  The giggles.  The soft sound of her sweet voice.  The way her face lights up when I walk in the room.  The heaviness in my heart every day when we part.  The way she stroked my hair when she was nursing and I treasured it because it was mine hers alone.  No one else will ever get to experience that with her.

When I got teary eyed packing away all the 3 month clothes.  All the days I brought her to the grocery store in a baby carrier because I just wanted to keep her close.  The sweet way she looks when sleeping.  The soft feel of her skin.  Those first couple teeth popping up that are the most adorable thing ever until the next couple come in.

Her budding personality.  The way she trusts me.

The tired eyes.  The fullest heart.

The quiet grief I felt after losing a friend who was also a father.  The way my heart hurt for him in every moment of joy I had with my baby because he can no longer hold his.  The way I felt happy and so very sad in the exact same moment as I tried to soak up all the joy and love around me and feel the bitter sting of that same joy removed from a friend.

Wishing I could to slow down time.  Suddenly cherishing those wakings every hour during the night because I’m alive and  holding my baby.  The nursing sessions at 1 in the morning when no one else saw the salty tears running down my cheeks, and the few that wet her pajamas.

The smiles and the happy tone of in my voice when I was feeling so sad.

The long drive to the emergency room when she was really sick.  The waiting.  The way she looked so small sitting up in the emergency room bed.  The cute, innocent look on her face that seemed to say “help me feel better momma.  I just want to smile and play.”

The panic in my heart when the fever just won’t come down.  The way that snuggling in my chest seemed to be the only place she could sleep.  The feeling that I would cut off my right arm to make her feel better.  The desperate, silent prayers at all hours of the day and night.  The day that she finally looks up and smiles again.  The first time she chugs down a bottle after almost 24 hours without any liquids.  The way I wanted to jump up and cheer the first time she peed again.

The unplanned days missed from work.  The stress.  The fear.

The way my heart hurt when I let her cry herself to sleep for the first time.  The way I hated myself and all the moments that I “almost” went in there because I couldn’t can’t stand it, only to hear her settle down and talk myself out of it.

The night she finally slept through the night and I snuck into her room 5 times to make sure she was ok.

That hard night the first time I slept away.

The days that everything seems right and there is no place I would rather be than at home with my family just doing nothing.  Watching her discover her world.  Just sitting there quietly and watching her contently picking at toys, trying out different things and looking up at me every few minutes just to make sure I’m still there.

The first time she crawls and never looks back.

The day that she decides she prefers a bottle to my warm breasts and I cried, realizing that those moments ended far too early and without warning.

More pumping.  Time spent fretting about and worrying over my supply.  Tears over spilled milk.

Wondering if she’s eating enough, sleeping enough, napping enough, and pooping enough, but not too much.

Spending vacation days cleaning vomit and doing laundry, disinfecting and sleeping very little.

Feeling guilty because I don’t make my own baby food with organic fruits and vegetables.  Feeling guilty because my own diet could use some serious upgrades. .

Days without exercise, without showers.  Nights without sleep.

The amazing emotion that courses through my heart when she sees me at daycare and walks over to me with a huge grin because she is so happy to see me.

Giving advice to friends with newborns and realizing that this is an unrecognized parenting milestone.  Being able to communicate so much without talking by using facial expressions and hand gestures with Tim.  The high fives because we’ve become a team and the sense of pride we feel when a challenge arises and we look at each other like “We’ve got this!”

Finally starting to realize we eventually want to do this all over again someday.

Food on the floor.  Food on the walls.  Food in her ears and her hair.

Temper tantrums that erupt, just when we were starting to feel like we’ve got things figured out.

Realizing that I actually remain pretty calm in stressful situations these days.

Still feeling like I have no idea what the #@^* I’m doing sometimes.  The deep sighs that say “I just want to have more than 7 minutes to scarf down my dinner.”

Being in “Go” mode from 5:45 am until 8:20 every night and then not having any mental capacity left for anything.

Having to email Tim at work because it’s the best way to communicate important things since you just won’t remember or have the energy for it later.

Finally, taking all of these moments and summing them up brings you more joy than you could have ever expected in life.  I’m sure this next year will bring more challenges and more rewards with our sweet girl.  She really has become this happy little person full of energy.  Its been a great year!!!

Not the most flattering pic post delivery, but its real.

 

This is what it was like most of the time…no make-up, casual, snuggle time!

 

Ah, the days of extremem sleep deprivation and stealing a few minutes of shut eye on a beach.

The little sweetie that made it all worth it!

 

Chicken Pox!!!  Something you never expect your 6 month old to get these days…

A lot changes in a year…

 

And I wouldn’t change a thing!  Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with us!

Happy Valentines Day!

So since I blogged about my pulling out of my spring marathon, I’ve not been too inspired to write about anything.  I actually started a draft for a post about how I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal of breastfeeding for a year without any supplementing.  I didn’t finish it because I did what I have been doing every time I think I’m not going to make it and get really pissed off, dig in my heels and start MAKING it happen.  So a couple weeks ago I was pumping about 7 oz a day less than she was drinking.  I had one, just one freezer bag left of about 6 oz so you do the math.  Well instead of conceding, I went all insane Jane and looked for every little thing I could eat or drink to boost my supply without taking Fenugreek (it gave my daughter horrible diarrhea, though it did work) and you know what…it worked!  All was well with the world again.  I started to believe I was going to make it.

 Here I am, 14 days away from the 1 year mark.  I’ve been drinking dark beer every night, drinking Gatorade after EVERY run, no matter how short it is, putting brewer’s yeast in my yogurt and oatmeal every day, taking all sorts of vitamins and minerals, not taking pain relievers except acetaminophen…making sure I stick to my pumping schedule, basically doing EVERYTHING possible to just get through the next couple weeks.

 I was actually starting to get a little bit ahead!  I would feel so excited when at the end of the night I finished pumping and realized I had 2 or 3 extra oz to carry over into the next day!  And then one day, I had just enough for the next day…and then the following night I was short.  I was pissed.  I felt like a failure.  I was still doing EVERYTHING the same!  Why?!  Why was I getting less?!  So I pulled that last 6 oz out of the freezer and made a snarky “poor me” comment to my husband.  God bless him!  The man responded perfectly.  He said “Its ok.  You’ve done so great!  I looked it up and the percentage of mom’s that actually make it to a full year is in the single digits.  I’m really proud of you!” 

 I knew what the issue was.  All I had to do was look at a calendar.  I was ovulating, and since my period returned at 10 months post partum, my supply will completely tank during the few days I’m ovulating and then again when I get my period.  I also allowed myself to take the pain reliever naproxen, I’ll get into that in a minute.

 So there’s that.  My choices were to either 1.) Just give my daughter what I was able to pump and hope that she eats enough solid food to make up the difference, or 2.) start to supplement with formula.

 I might be more willing to just let her make up the calories in food if she wasn’t such a finicky eater.  Some days she eats great, other days she eats two bites and just wants my milk.  I worry about her nutrition a lot.  Mostly about her iron.  Breastfed babies are more at risk for iron deficiency because breast milk does not contain a lot of iron like formula.  If they eat enough meat or fortified cereals, great they should be fine but Ms. Alex will no longer eat fortified cereals and she sometimes eats her meat, sometimes not.  And there is NOTHING wrong with formula!  Some of these breast feeding pushers seem to act like formula is poison or unclean in some way and since I work for a company that makes it, I know that is completely false!  Still, doctors and scientists agree that breast is best so I’ve been putting a ton of pressure on myself to make it work. 

 Anyway, back to the pain relievers.  So it seems like since December, our family has been sick with various things (especially Alexandra) pretty much non stop.  I’ve had so many doctors appointments and work at home days in the last two months, and I have a new boss that I can’t seem to get a read on yet.  So every time I’ve had to send emails “coming in late today…”, “working at home today” I’ve STRESSED, WORRIED, PANICKED! 

 So when my own wisdom tooth started to hurt several weeks ago, I just dealt with it…telling myself I would get in to see the dentist when things slowed down and it was more convenient. 

 This is the cold, hard, truth.  I haven’t been to the dentist in so long, I literally couldn’t even estimate or guess as to when my last appointment was.  Yes, that is terrible, I know.  I’m 30 years old though and never had a cavity so I kind of thought it was one of those things in life I could just put off until it was more convenient.

 Well, the pain in my tooth did not get better.  It started to get worse.  Much worse.  Alex got ANOTHER ear infection this week so once again, I had to go to doctors appointments and work from home.  Tooth pain is slowly getting worse.  Then, I’m sleeping in my daughter’s room the other night to monitor her cough and make sure it doesn’t turn into croup and my tooth wakes me up at 2 in the morning with searing pain.  Its not just in my tooth anymore, its in my whole jaw, including the jaw up above it and now I have a huge lump at the roof of my mouth that is throbbing.  And all I could think about was my dwindling milk supply and how pain relievers make it worse so I layed there until 2:45 am trying to get back to sleep when I finally cried ‘uncle’ and went downstairs and took some naproxen!

 If you’re already thinking I’m crazy and stupid at this point, I wholeheartedly agree with you.  I have a problem because even when I’m know I’m being stupid I somehow have come so far and can’t stop!  I never fell back asleep that night, and its pathetic that it wasn’t because of my child for once but because of a toothache!!!!  WTF?!  Seriously, WTF??!!

 I told my husband about this and he seemed concerned.  I continued to take pain relievers that day and felt guilty about it because of my milk.  Later that night after dinner I was in so much pain I couldn’t really even have a conversation with him after we put Alex to bed.  My jaw pain was causing a headache and the pain relievers just weren’t working.  So once again, God bless that man!  He said “You need to call the dentist tomorrow morning at 8 am when they open and you need to get in and get this looked at before the weekend.”  I knew he was right.

 So I find out I have an infection from my wisdom tooth that was spreading in my mouth.  I got a prescription for antibiotics but the dentist told me was only a temporary solution.  I needed to have the tooth removed.  I kind of suspected this already so it was hardly a surprise, but still…having it confirmed was sort of a huge slap in the face.  He also recommended that I just get all 4 out at the same time because another one was impacted and the other 2 had cavities.  Cavities!  But I’ve never had a cavity!!!  Major blows to my ego today.

 So as I’m driving to the pharmacy to fill my prescription and I’m sweating and feeling nervous about the fact that its almost 11 am and I’m still not at work yet, I had a breakthrough.  WTF am I doing to myself?! 

 I haven’t run for a couple days because I took time to take Alex to her appointments and felt the need to work through my lunch breaks to make up the time and I’m just pushing all my needs further and further out and I’m not heading in the right direction.  So I told myself to breath.  I realized if I was feeling stressed out about taking time from work to take care of myself and my family, I should just take half a vacation day so that it was at least my own time and I could stop stressing out about it.  Yeah, I only get 2 weeks of vacation a year so even taking a half a day for something as sucky as a toothache is really shitty.  But once I made that decision it was like this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could relax.  There was also a Valentines party at Alex’s daycare in the afternoon that I really wanted to go to but felt like I definitely couldn’t because of all the time I was already missing from work.  Now I could still do that and not feel bad about it!

 So when I pulled into the pharmacy drive through and they told me it would be 20 minutes to fill my script, I said “ok” and drove right over to the grocery store where I bought some purified water for formula (because this morning I pumped 6 oz to my normal 10 oz) and picked up some beer for Tim and I this weekend.  I got into the check out and the lady in front of me was taking her time in the self check out putting her groceries in bags and forgot her receipt.  I realized for the first time in a LONG time that I was not in a hurry at all and was not the least bit impatient with her.  It was a nice feeling.  She realized that I was behind her and apologized to me and I told her very honestly to “take her time, she had done nothing wrong”.  Probably since I was so nice, she smiled at me and said “I’m just enjoying a shopping trip without kids for once!”  I smiled a true smile and even laughed out loud a bit and said “I am doing the exact same thing!” 

 I realized in that moment something about us moms that puts us in a whole new category, separate from anyone else.

 We constantly give everything we have, every bit of ourselves every single day.  We push through when we are sick, tired, had a bad day, and we do it with a smile.  Our kids will never appreciate it until maybe someday they have kids of their own, and they shouldn’t.  I would never want Alex to feel guilt over anything I’ve done for her.  I do it because I choose to, I do it out of love, not for appreciation.  Our own needs and wants always come last because we chose for it to be that way because we love those around us so much more than we love ourselves. 

 I’ve realized my happiness, my self worth has become completely tied to how my daughter is feeling, my husband is feeling, my work is getting done.  I need to change that.  Look at what happens when you let yourself go neglected for too long.  It blows up in your face! 

 I need to get my hair cut.  I’ve been wanting to get it cut for a while but it seems there just never is enough “time” that I want to sacrifice in order to make this happen.  So this weekend, I’m going to do something that I have been dreading and putting off since Alex was born.  I’m going to give her a little bit of formula and hope that it doesn’t cause her horrible diarrhea, even though it will be very hard to tell since she’s currently on round 2 of antibiotics for her ear infection.  I’m sad that I’m going to do this, but at the same time also kind of relieved because it takes off a lot of pressure.   Oh, life is funny, isn’t it? 

 Anyway, so I’m choosing to be positive about all this.  I’m choosing to be proud that I made it 11.5 months of breastfeeding my daughter without supplementation with formula.  I’m choosing to see today’s experience as a huge lesson for myself instead of a huge failure.  I’m choosing to start making my needs more of a priority.

 I’m also choosing to wish all the mothers out there a happy Valentines Day because you deserve to be appreciated on this day for all you do for all those you love.  I know you always put yourself last and that you would do anything for those you love.  Some people can say that, but I know you actually mean it.  I know that you do the things you do out of pure love for someone else.  No matter how you may feel about yourself, I think you are amazing and you are beautiful.  I know you are a kind of strong that no one else sees.  So while this “holiday” is typically for lovers, I think it should also be for mothers because there is no other love more pure than yours. 

 Happy Valentines Day, from another mother!

Tough Decisions 2/1/14

Today I made the decision that I’m not running a spring marathon.

Yes, I’m sad and mad and pretty frustrated about it and its also sort of a relief at the same time.  Still, it has put me into a “mood” today that I’m trying really hard to shake so I’m hoping writing about it will help.

My last couple posts have talked about what a challenging winter its been to train for a spring marathon.  We hadn’t signed up yet, and I was giving myself until February 26th (2 months out) to make the decision because I did realize that we may hit too many road blocks after the months leading up to the start of training. 

So what led up to this decision happening so soon?  Well, before I left for my work trip I had a great 15 mile pace run that left me feeling energetic and confident.  The next day I got on a plane and picked up this horrible cold that I still have.  That was on the 14th of January…its February 1st.  Saying a “cold” sounds kind of wimpy because I have definitely run through many colds before but it was different this time.  It sank in deep to my chest, I lost my voice and I had a horrible cough and I just felt tired and run down.  Still, I figured after a few days I would feel better enough to get back to training, even if it meant taking it easier for a while.  Day after day went by and I just didn’t feel any better.  I worried that I was going to give it to my daughter…and I did.

I could go into the whole thing and talk about the lack of sleep for everyone, the scary nights when she was wheezing and we had to get her on her nebulizing baby “inhaler”, the doctors appointment where we found out she had an ear infection and croup, the days home from work and my boss never saying a word leading me to believe she wasn’t ok with me taking time off, the stress, the worry, the horrible weather and roads…all of it.  You get the picture, I’m sure. 

Finally my voice is coming back.  I still can’t hit high notes and have that “sexy” low sound still but its so much better than before.  And then my throat starts hurting…bad.  WTF????  Then Tim’s throat starts hurting.  Then we get yet another blizzard. 

So this morning I had a 16 mile run planned.  What to do, what to do?  Seriously, I couldn’t figure it out and asked in a running forum to take a survey.  I wanted to get my run in, yet I also would like to not be sick.  Running can boost your immune system but only if you don’t over do it.  Runs longer than an hour actually suppress your immune system.  Finally I just decided to get out there, do a short loop and see how I felt.  Well the roads sucked.  I’ve dealt with that before.  My 14 mile run the roads were awful and I got through it.  I hoped when I got to the main roads they would at least have some tire tracks that were decent and the first main road did not.  It was a slippery, sloppy mess.  I realized I wasn’t going to run 16 miles in this crap.  I looked down at my watch to see what my pace was and estimate how long it would even take me to run 16 and saw that my satelite wasn’t connected.  My timer had been going but my distance said 0.00 miles.  I was at least 3/4 of a mile into it.  I stopped.  I swore out loud.  I tried turning off my watch and turning it on again to see if I could get it to work.  Nope.  Had it been a decent day I could estimate distance based on my time but I had no idea how much slower I was going and I wasn’t about to guestimate a long run. 

I turned around to head home to borrow Tim’s watch and when I got back to my neighborhood there were two little white dogs (I don’t know what they’re called but they have hair like poodles) in the road that started chasing me and barking and nipping at my ankles.  I yelled at them and they got more aggressive so I just kept running until finally the owner yelled for them to come back.  Seriously, there is snow everywhere and your little white dogs are unleased in the road?!  Cars drive on that street way too fast and could easily not see them with all the snow.  Ticked me off even more.  I can’t stand irresponsible pet owners! 

Anyway, I got home and I hate to admit I was nearly in tears.  I looked at Tim and said “I’m not doing the marathon.”  Thankfully, he completely understood and agreed with me.  I did get his watch and go back out and run.  I got in almost 10 miles.  I really needed to run at that point to help me deal with this disapointment, even though it continued to be a frustrating road where one car tried to run me off the road (even though there was no traffic in the opposite lane whatsoever) and one van who thought laying on their horn for roughly a minute would, I don’t know maybe teach me a lesson??!  Ha ha, it didn’t. 

I know, its only February, I still have time to train if I really wanted to make it work.  I could still run the marathon.  That’s just it though, I don’t want to just “run” a marathon.  I’ve already run 3 marathons.  I get that its an accomplishment just to cross the finish line, but for me that’s just not “enough” anymore.  Not enough to get me through 16 miles on days like today.  Not enough to spend hours away from my family on the weekend.  I only want to run a marathon if I think I’m going to run it as fast as I’d like.  At this point, with the way the last few weeks have gone and the fact that Tim said they are expecting another month of this weather I just don’t see it being realistic. 

So, not to totally be a downer, we are going to change our training plans and focus on the Riverbank 25K instead.  As bummed as I am about the marathon, I’m also relieved that the pressure and stress is finally over.