The marathon/sprint metaphor is a good one. Even if you’re not a runner, you know what it means. I AM a runner though. I’m a very pathetic runner these days but I have plenty of worthy excuses as to why. I have a family history of bad knees, my “jogging” stroller vibrates like a jackhammer when I run with it, and running makes me tired and sweaty. See…valid reasons.
But in college and before I had kids I could function on 5 hours of sleep, a box of licorice and a whole lot of diet coke. And I was a runner. I ran all over Logan, Utah and Salt Lake City and Huntington Beach, California. I even ran TWO full marathons, which reminds me I need to add “Marathon Runner” to my auto-signature and Linked-In profile. So the marathon/sprint metaphor really resonates with me when I need to be reminded to slow down and be patient. But I recently heard someone say that raising kids is a marathon rather than a sprint and I have to disagree. It’s not a marathon OR a sprint. It’s a Ragnar.
As you might know, the Ragnar is an overnight running relay race almost 100 miles long in which, “only one runner hits the road at a time. Each participant runs three times, with each leg ranging between 3-8 miles and varying in difficulty.” Did you read that part about it being overnight? That’s right folks. You run up to 8 miles, then jump into a van with your teammates while someone else takes a turn running, and maybe you can get a little sleep IN THE VAN, or maybe not, but either way you’ve got two more legs to run before the finish line. The team members in the van help keep an eye on the runner, keep food and water handy, and overall wait for their turn to run. I’m a kinda, sorta, if-only-there-weren’t-all-these-obstacles-I’d-go-more runner, but I’m not a sleepless runner. I’m not even a sleepless nice person.
But isn’t that just how rearing offspring is? I mean if you’re lucky, it’s a Ragnar. And I’m not just talking about the sleepless part althought that IS right on the money. What I mean is that if you’re lucky, you’re not running the entire race yourself. You’re taking your turn and then, if you’re very very lucky, you jump in the van and take a little break. It’s not a real break though. It’s a “try to sleep in this crowded moving mini-van” sort of break. Someone still tries to get your attention or your to-do list grows rather than shrinking, but you attempt a break while the really hard work is taken over by someone else.
I SOMEHOW landed myself on a KILLER Ragnar team when I married Jake. First off, Jake takes his leg of the race every time. He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t try to make me feel guilty. He knows these are OUR kids, which means when he’s alone with them, he’s not “babysitting,” he’s “being their Dad.” And Jake is an A-MAZ-ING Dad. He sometimes see’s me running along and notices my pace lagging and my leg beginning to cramp, and he offers to jump in and finish my leg of this Ragnar, PLUS his. This happens over and over again and I’m always amazed because just as I’m about to turn into the hulk from an overdose of small children, Jake steps in. I am a spoiled diva-of-a-mom for sure.
Another strong runner on our Ragnar team is my mother-in-law Sherry. She makes robot birthday cakes and does craft projects and bakes cookies and helps with the laundry and listens when the kids have a story about something that happened at school. I mean really listens not the pretend kind I do where I’m nodding and making eye contact but my brain is planning my outfit for the following day.
I used to feel bad about how I am the weakest runner on our Ragnar team. I think my mother-in-law and my husband are both better and more patient with my kids than I am. I mean if I am the mom shouldn’t I be better at this and find more enjoyment in it all? But now I know… I’m not the strongest runner on our team. And that’s OK. I am enough. Rather than trying to run 8-mile legs every time and end up exhausted and grumpy and impatient and yelling, I run my little heart out, but when I am worn out, before I become injured and am no good to my Ragnar team, I get in the van. When I do this, my leg of the race rocks. I’m such a better mom when I know my own limitations and don’t make them mean anything about whether or not I am a good mom. I love my kids enough to know I can’t give them everything I want for them. I’ll make sure they get it someplace, but it’s not always going to be from me. And they are much happier this way. And I am much happier this way. I don’t know if Sherry is really happier or just saying that because she is an Angel straight from heaven, but I think she really is happy because Angels can’t tell lies.
And to all of the other people on our Ragnar team: Polly Plummer, the rest of the Moore family and the entire Lymanite clan, Mrs. Vicory, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. Lee, Ms. Branson, Mrs. Mecham, Mrs. Regan, Mrs. Hayes, Mr. O’Meara, all the other school parents and PTA, everyone at Patti’s Preschool, everyone in the Roseville LDS 5th Ward and Huntington Beach 7th Ward, all the sweet babysitters we’ve had and those I’ve yet to track down, Dr. Jamal, Coach Sam, Girl Scout Leaders Jamie and Jeannine, AND that guy at Target who didn’t even flinch when my son dropped his Sprite in the middle of the isle…THANK YOU. This Ragnar team rocks! And know that I appreciate you taking a turn to run more than I am capable of expressing. Because while the daily chores of motherhood do not come easily to me, what does come easily is FIERCELY loving my kids. And because I love them, I know when to jump in the van and let you do what you do.
Love your guts…
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