Happy Mother’s Day From A Fellow Mother Runner
I used to cringe at the term “mother runner.” I didn’t understand why some women felt the need to distinguish themselves from others. (To be honest, there are a lot of things I used to say or think that I find myself backpedaling on these days. Just ask my friend Sarah for some of my comments circa 2010.) To me, running was running, plain and simple. As a “non-mother runner” I felt excluded by these types of designations and found them to be self-righteous, if not condescending.
The reason that I have changed my mind on this topic is because there are certain things about being a mother and a runner that are hard. Both motherhood and running pose unique sets of challenges. Combining the two creates a significant subset of the population whose needs all too often go unaddressed.
This is not to say that balancing motherhood and running (or fitness) is harder than other types of challenges that others may face (mothers and non-mothers alike). For example, working full time (or going to school full time) and training is hard. Training while dealing with personal or family issues is hard. There are countless scenarios that one may encounter that makes training hard (and I would venture to guess that everyone out there can offer an antidote demonstrating this). But through my own experience I have learned that motherhood presents its own set of challenges that are seldom addressed anywhere else.
I have now come to realize that the term mother-runner isn’t about being self-righteous or exclusionary. It isn’t about having an “us-vs-them” mentality (as I used to think). Instead, it’s about finding solidarity amidst the chaos. It’s about having someone to ask about how to go about pumping before a big race (In the car? In a port-a-potty? Out in public?). It’s about having groups of other women who you can message at 3:00 a.m. when the baby won’t sleep and wondering how you are going to wake up in an hour to fit in your run (because they are still awake and wondering the same thing). It’s about being able to candidly discuss the “gross” things that happen to your body after childbirth without being embarrassed (and learning that you are not alone in your experiences). It’s about recognizing that your body may never be the same and learning to be okay with it. It’s about the guilt that manifests when you know that going for your daily run takes away precious time from your family (but recognizing that in the grand scheme of things that hour away grounds you and makes you a better parent in the long run). It’s about being able to talk openly and unabashedly about those things that no one else wants to hear about.
Finding other mother runners to commiserate with has been a blessing during this postpartum period. At a time where my emotions are swinging all across the spectrum, having others who can offer wisdom and support has been imperative. I am especially thankful for the women I have met in virtual groups (and especially my Oiselle mamas), many of whom I will never meet in person but who have provided countless answers to my incessant questioning. Women who know certain things about me that my closest friends might not. Likewise, in “real life” I have been lucky enough to share my miles with women who have “been there, done that” and who whole heartedly assure me that I shouldn’t stress and that it will all be okay.
This is why this Mother’s Day, I will admit that I have now adopted the term “mother runner” as a badge of honor. I have embraced being a #motherrunner. Because it is who I am and it’s someone I am proud to be.