If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever. Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Identity Crisis?

I have to share a happy moment.

But first, let me back track.

I tend to get lots of comments (well, it feels like lots but I think I hyperfocus on them) about my kids. Not good ones either! Things like:

Why in the world would you have so many kids so close together?

My, my, doesn't someone have lots of kids close in age?

Twins? Better you than me!

You know my favorite, You sure have your hands full!

Another doozy: You must be done. Really?! Thanks for giving me your opinion on my reproductive organs.

I feel like I'm constantly being judged for overpopulating the world. For the record, Mads and Max were surprise twins and are nearly three years younger than Claire (not that any of that should matter to those nosey meanies).

AND YES!!! I do want one more. So sue me!

I could go on, but my blood pressure might rise a little too much.

Ok, but on to my happy moment. I swear, it's in here somewhere!

I was leaving the gym this week and I had the 'we must test our new-found independence' Mads and Max with me. They no longer want to hold my hand! Since our car was parked right in front of the gym and they wouldn't have to walk through the parking lot, I let them go ahead of me as I held the door for another person. And at that moment, Max darted to the street. He stopped before his feet hit the parking lot but I wasn't taking any chances, I scooped him up in a football hold and grabbed Madeline's hand as we walked the rest of the way to my swagger wagon...errr....van.

Phew. Crisis averted. I started buckling them in their carseats when a car pulled up behind me. The window rolled down and a 'cranky' man shouted, "How does it feel?"

Now, a million thoughts ran through my head. Ruh-roh, he must have seen my parenting fail as I grabbed Max from his near-dash-across-the-parking-lot-attempt....and , Oh great, what did I do now? Have one too many kids out in public? Or, was he going to chastise me for being a bad mom and taking my kids to the gym daycare instead of staying home all day singing cumbayah? Yes, all these negative-nelly thoughts ran through my head while I stammered, "Uhhhh, how does what feel?"

Then he turned to his wife and they both smiled big. He replied, "Those are twins, right? I want to know: how does it feel to be a hero? You are a hero of a mom!"

Say it with me now: Awwwwwwwww!!!! That melted my heart. I sometimes have a hard time accepting a compliment. And I really don't think I'm a hero. I'm just a mom. But I appreciated him going out of his way to say something so genuinely kind. One of my friends said she too was sick of hearing the dreaded: "You must have your hands full" comment about her three kids. The one time someone said something nice SHE was the one who said, "Yeah, but my hands are full!" D'oh!!!! So, I caught myself as I started to say, "Well, they are a lot of work (*forehead slap*) BUT they are such a joy. And you know, God doesn't ever give you what you can't handle." The man responded, "Yes, that is true and you are handling them just fine."

And then, MY hero and his wife drove away. I was cheesing it big time. As I looked back in my rear view mirror I told the twins, "That's right. Your mommy is a hero". I adjusted my imaginary cape and then proceeded to back out. Only I wasn't in reverse. So I jumped the curb. Double, D'oh!

Oh, that's right, he said hero, not SUPER hero.

But just in case...I have a cape handy at all times....

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Climb

You turned to me and whispered, "Mommy, I don't want to go".

My faith was shaking
But I, I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

Oh Claire, your faith was shaking. But you were so strong. I leaned over while holding your hand, I looked into your eyes and I whispered back, "You are so brave. You are going to have a great day. Your teacher is so lucky to have you".

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

Strength is what you showed me. I knew in your heart you wanted to turn around and run to me. You wanted to come home and stay with what you know, what is comfortable and familiar. Instead, you gave me one last nervous smile and reached out to your teacher as she led you away from me. My heart broke just a little bit. So proud. So happy. And I instantly missed you, even though you were only a few feet away.

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Sometimes when I'm running, I don't feel the hard part until about mile 10. Before that, I feel like I'm coasting. But once I hit my 'mountain', it's during that time I have to reach deep down inside and remember who I am.

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

From birth to now, just like my first few miles, you have been coasting with me right along your side. Today you started Kindergarten. Claire, you've hit your mountain. From here on out, school will bring you lots of ups and downs. My prayer is: you remember who you are. You continue marching to the beat of your own drum. And that no matter what, no matter how tough things get, you always face your battles with a good heart.

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb...

Sweet Claire, I'm proudly watching you as you start your Climb.

Barbara LeGere Photography
Lyrics: The Climb

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is a picture worth a thousand words?

My blogs can get a little....wordy. Chris' eyes tend to glaze over when I ask him to read through a blog. I think he wishes I would use bullet points and cut out all the fluff. So without further ado, I'm cutting out the fluff on this one and going to let the pictures speak for themselves. (Ok ok, I cannot help but put captions, but that's for point of reference! Without them you wouldn't know if I was at mile 5 or 15!)

The day before...Do I look scared? I am!

15 minutes to race time. Yeaaaaaaaah!

I swear, I'm not doing the Phoebe Buffay run! I was just coming out of my signature "peace sign"....Really!!! Golden Gate Bridge, mile 6

Just about half way....

Mile 15? Who cares, I'm flying!!!

Mile 19. Feeling strong.

This photo brings tears to my eyes (not because I look scary, I do!) but because it's a perfect reminder of the pain and mental battle I was fighting. It looks like I'm barely running, the color is gone from my lips and I'm hurting. Bad. Mile 25.

If I close my eyes, will the pain go away? Mile 25 and 2 steps.

It's amazing what seeing the finish line can do. Added some pep to the step, brought my smile back (nevermind that it looks like Chris is dragging me across the finish line) and I was feeling some serious runner's high. 26.2

Happiness hit her like a train on a track....


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Marathoning Me...ME?!

I have a confession.
I'm having a love affair.
With running.

I've blogged before that when I hear love songs, I don't always think of Chris (I do sometimes!! ;)), I often think of my children. Well, on this marathon journey, I realized music was a central piece to my relationship with running. Running is like a living, breathing, thing for me. Something I need and crave. Something that has made me laugh, cry, worry, caused me pain, joy and so much more that I cannot put into words.

My other love.

Music carried me for 26.2 miles. 4 hours and 17 minutes. Some songs would make me think of the friend or family member who suggested it. Other songs would make me smile because they are silly pop songs that mean nothing other than a happy beat. Music is part of the energy that allows me to run for hours. It carried me past Pier 39: the spot Chris and I got engaged, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Golden Gate Park, up and down the streets of Haight Ashbury, past smiling faces, serious policemen, while passing tired runners and being passed by runners older, younger, bigger and smaller than myself, over rolling hills and hills that felt and looked more like walls.

Miles 1-5
The San Francisco Marathon started a few miles down from Pier 39 on the Embarcadero at 5:30 AM on July 31st. I am not by any means an elite runner, so my wave started closer to 6:15. As my wave of thousands of runners headed across the start line, I felt strong and engergetic. I felt alive. I knew that the months I had spent preparing for this moment were worth it. I was ready.

I ran the first few miles faster than I originally planned. Don't be stupid, I kept telling myself. Starting out too fast could mean the difference between finishing or giving up. So I imagined the invisible string attached to my back that pulls me back when I get a little overzealous...it couldn't slow me down to the planned 10 minute mile but it slowed me down enough to run the race smart. Suddenly I was passing Pier 39 and in front of the giant Ghiradelli sign. Chocoloate to my left and the beautiful ocean, Alcatraz and boaters shouting RUNNNNNNNNNN Runners!!! to my right. It was the perfect time for my favorite song to come on, Dog Days Are Over, and it did.

Happiness, hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back

Run fast for your mother run fast for your father
Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive

I smiled big. Tears poked my eyes. I clapped my hands to the beat. Oh yes, happiness most definitely hit me.

Miles 6-12
As I started across the Golden Gate Bridge, Have a Little Faith in Me, came on my playlist. Whenever I hear this song I don't think of the "me" as myself, but as that living-breathing thing called Running.

When the road gets dark
and you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark
and have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try, baby
And have a little faith in me

And so I did. I had faith in running. I knew that no matter what my overall time was, I would be finishing this marathon.

Miles 13-18
Thousands and thousands of us were running. We went through Golden Gate Park and I was feeling GOOD. I felt a twinge of self-doubt as I watched the first group of half-marathoners heading towards their finish line and I was detoured to the right, picking up the second group of half-marathoners, that were just starting their race. They had happy faces, big smiles and fresh legs. How I felt and looked about 2 hours ago. To say I was envious was an understatement. But then U2 joined me:

It's a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away

You're on the road
But you've got no destination
You're in the mud
In the maze of her imagination

You love this town
Even if that doesn't ring true
You've been all over
And it's been all over you
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
It's a beautiful day

I stopped feeling sorry for myself and reminded myself, I chose to do this race. Me. I wasn't forced to do it. I don't have to run. I get to run 26.2 miles today. And in that moment my smile came back. I picked up my pace and decided I was going to embrace the next 13.1 miles.

Miles 19-22
The next miles ticked off. One.mile.at.a.time.I started through Haight Ashbury and it was so appropriate that He Reigns came on at that time. Children were lined up on the street with their parents. Bright smiles on their faces with tiny hands stuck out for a hi-five (I happily dished those out! and soaked up their positive energy) while cheering for friends, family and strangers.

When all God's children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God's people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

I couldn't help but feel God smiling down on me in that moment. He must look at His children who are running, for whatever their own personal reasons are, and feel happy. A race is all about goodness. It's all about people using their bodies in a healthy way.

Suddenly I realized there was a reason I should have stuck to the original plan. It hit me. Hard. Sheer exhaustion. At mile 22 my right leg nearly gave out and I had to catch myself from falling completely to the ground. A muscle cramp had hit me in both my right quad and right calf almost simultaneously. I had never had that happen before, so I wasn't exactly sure what to do. In past races, I've seen marathoners suddenly fall to the ground, grabbing their leg while writhing in pain. Dear God, please don't let me fall, I prayed. My mind was telling me to walk. My heart was telling me to keep running through the pain. My heart won that battle but I wasn't too exhausted to notice the irony of the lyrics to Little Lion Man playing mockingly in my ears:

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?

Had I effed up? Did I run the race too fast? Was my body going to hold out for the last 4 miles?! I didn't know the answers to those questions, so I stopped thinking and just ran. And ran. Suddenly, I saw Chris. It was about mile 24. I smiled and shouted and waved I'm here!!!! Chris jumped over the railing and that's when whatever ounce of mental strength I was holding onto dissolved into nothingness. I could be weak. My man was here. Chris, I can't do it anymore. I can't. Those words I whispered to him, not wanting to discourage any runners around me with my own pain. My own shame. You're almost there. Let's go. And that was all he said. So we ran. I only had two miles to go and yet it felt like those two miles were 200 miles. At one point, I looked over and saw my reflection in a storefront window: I was hunched over and my run was more like the shuffle of an old lady. But I was moving.

Chris pointed up ahead and showed me the finish line was less than half a mile away. I always end my runs with a sprint, and I wasn't going to change anything just because I had been running over 26 miles. So I kicked it up a notch. The course changed into two lanes and signs pointed halfers to the left and full marathoners to the right. I held my head a little higher, pushed my shoulders back and sprinted to the right. Perfect timing for The Good Life to come on:

Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Say oh, got this feeling that you can't fight
Like this city is on fire tonight
This could really be a good life
A good, good life

Damn. It is a good life.

You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Stephen King

Sometimes I can't believe I did it. But I never would have, if I didn't take that first step.