I left my sneakers at my parents’ house this weekend. I forgot I had even pulled them out of the car this Easter weekend, and I really shouldn’t have, since I didn’t do any running while home for the holiday, but as anyone who tries to keep up some sort of regular running schedule knows, it is good to be prepared with sneakers.
When I got the text from my mom with the horrifying news that my sneakers had been left behind, we were jut getting pre-roadtrip coffees not too far away from her house. I almost considered turning around to get them, but my father told me he’d be in Halifax within a day or two and could bring the sneakers to me. Saving the kids from an extra 15 minutes in the car when we had a four hour drive ahead of us was important, so we kept on going towards our home and away from those tried and true trainers.
Not everyone would consider me a runner. I’m certainly not anywhere close to an elite. At the moment, I can’t even run consequtively for five minutes. Over the past handful of years, my running career has had me training and re-training myself over and over to be able to run. I’ve been fast and slow, run 5K races and one particularly cool destination half-marathon. I even lumbered through a few races while pregnant. So quite honestly, by this point, regardless of the fact that my “runs” consist of more walking than running, I’m a runner dammit, and I am claiming that title proudly.
It has been 6 days since I’ve last gone on a run and it is showing.
It isn’t showing in the way my pants fit or how many chins I currently have. It takes nine months to get a fully pregnant body, and I’m reminding myself that it also takes time to get this body back to its new normal too. Running will help, but the way I look isn’t why I run. No, I can tell that I haven’t run in a few days because I’m feeling incredibly cooped-up and overwhelmed. My time is devoted to raising these children and taking care of this house while my body is constantly being used as a jungle gym or a bottle or all the countless other things that the body of a wife and a mother is used for. These things are generally all good but there is a point in which it all becomes a little too much too.
I reach that point often these days.
I run to feel and claim my body as mine. Running is to be present in my body and master over it. It is to declare that my body is not only a vessel for tiny humans and their milk. Those things make my body wonderful and powerful and give it meaning. But I need to declare that it is mine too. I need to recognize myself in the mirror through the stretched and saggy stomach skin, the chest scratches made from tiny fingers, and the luggage under my eyes. My body shouts at anyone who looks at it that I Am Mother! but I also need it to whisper the afterthought that I am also me.
In these early days, when I am just teaching my body to run again and praying that it responds, I run to escape. I go to the gym a few streets over and I plug in my headphones to watch some cable tv. I run for a few minutes and then walk for a few minutes on my very own treadmill that goes nowhere. But I don’t need it to go anywhere. The treadmill is the destination. Without that destination, I’d never have a reason to leave the house on my own. It doesn’t make sense to leave the baby at home unless I’m going to workout. And while I can’t be gone for long, a thirty minutes jog is easy to justify. I run because it is an acceptable escape.
I love motherhood but in order to be good at it, I need this.
My Dad dropped off my sneakers today. If you’re looking for me tonight, I’ll be at the gym.