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Mamahood: the sacrifice & the indulgence of it all

You may be able to tell that many of the urbanMamas are a running bunch (connect with them now on the run Mama run page).  Many of my friendships in Portland have blossomed due to regular running. Our time pounding the pavement/trails is time when we share about our children, their stages of life, our careers, our partners, and more.  

Last fall, I started a new running relationship that has really grown.  My running buddy started training for a marathon to celebrate her 50th year of life, and I followed along with her training routine.  For those of you who know me, you know that I am non-committal when it comes to registering for a run.  I don't know what it is.  Part of it is that I hate to spend "all that money" on myself for a run I could easily do on my own.  Who wants that t-shirt anyway?  Part of it is because I hate to put it on the family calendar, eating into precious weekend family time.  It seems so indulgent.

Before I knew it, I was running 20 miles on a Friday morning with my running buddy.  I would rearrange drop-off schedules so that I could leave at the crack of dawn and still be back for work meetings on a Friday.  It was indulgent: how many full-time working mamas could carve out time for a 3-4 hour run?  On the other hand, it was a choice and a sacrifice: I stayed up late many Thursday nights to work so I could get away with 3-4 hours away from the office the following morning.  AND, it really interfered very little with my family rhythm.  

Last week, in my heart, I committed to committing.  I opened up the webpage for registration for a marathon in June.  I had worked so hard this spring to increase my speed and distance.  I almost owe it to myself to let it pay off.  Before I hit "register now", I spoke with my husband about the idea.  And, due to other major life-changing transitions upcoming, he urged me to reconsider.  So, I did.  I decided not to run a marathon this June.

I am sad.  I feel that I have worked hard, unintentionally in the beginning, to train.  I didn't know what I was training for, but I realized that I am in great shape to run a marathon (NOW!).  But, as fate would have it, other life commitments will get in the way.  I am sure I am not the only mama who will let the family comes first, even if it means it will superceed my hopes, dreams, and aspirations (what a drama queen).  You know what I mean.  You've had that feeling before, haven't you?

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Kids won't be small forever.. be with them now while it still counts. My teens are so busy with their own plans now that we have no problem hiking most of the day on one of the weekend days.

I have a two year old and four year old and I just completed my second marathon in two years. I run before they get up in the morning during the week and then do one long run on the weekends. My husband and the girls look so forward to the Saturday "daddy" time. That means I am away from the kids 2-4 hours total during the week for my runs. The way my kids cheer me on at races is amazing. They look forward to them and at 2 and 4, already understand how important running is to the family. Mommy does something for herself. Daddy gets alone time with the kids and sees Mommy in a good mood because she NEEDS exercise.

Run Mama Run! Run the Foot Traffic Flat on Sauvie Island in July if you can't do one in June. Sign up. You won't regret it. Yeah for your commitment. Take it that step further. You have already trained. It is only one day! There are plenty of marathons out there.

I have and without being overly dramatic let me tell you from my experience...don't take your health or youth for granted and put off too long things that require that type of physical endurance. I very suddenly had the rug pulled out from under me health wise and looking back I wish I had run the marathon I wanted to and now I never can. There are windows of opportunity that can unexpectedly close...as scary and sad as that sounds.

Not sure the nature of the reason why you can't do the June run, but maybe you should reconsider and go for the event you want to do. It would be very empowering for you to do it with your training buddy! And, you've trained! For a marathon! Which will not feel the same as completing a marathon!

Sometimes, I make decisions that my husband is not particularly thrilled about, but which mean a whole lot to me. Not often, but every once in awhile -- everyone can't always win. You have to weigh it all out - in the long run, is your sadness worse than his displeasure? I find that I'm completely sensitive to taking away from family time in a way that my hubs is not. I suspect most of us mamas are like this. This is not always to our benefit!

If the reasons are really compelling for why you can't sign up in June, I agree with runningmama - find one in July or August! You definitely should do it! It's only part of a day!

My therapist once asked me, "Jane, why don't you actually fight for those things you really want?" That was a very good question and one I started thinking about anytime an important decision came about. Many years wasted doing what everyone else wanted. A fresh start to begin standing up for myself and fighting a good fight when needed to get what I want and need.

Another thing to consider is that a marathon is not just 3-4 hours away from the children. Most likely you will want to come home, take a shower and maybe rest. It must be difficult to jump into the daily routine without a proper rest.
This is not necessarily an argument against running. I am just saying, be prepared for the true time commitment and then go for it.

Sign up for the run and get a sitter for the day,weekend or whatever will support your family. I am sure that your running partner would be delighted to have you join in her milestone. It sounds like you are mostly ready and the training is really the biggest time commitment

Sometimes we have to put our family and partner's needs before our own. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you making that decision and owning it publicly. To also not sound dramatic here, it can just as meaningful to do something for someone else as it is to do something for yourself. I hope you are able to continue training so you can run the next time the timing is better for you. And I wish you god-speed in whatever else will be getting your attention that day.

And sometimes we use our kids or our partners as a cop out for pushing ourselves to be the best we can be. I sometimes wonder if this whole motherhood thing has begun to sound too much like martyrdom which is unhealthy and leads to resentment. When women are always expected to sacrifice even to our own detriment I wonder what that models for our children especially our daughters?

How cool would it be for your kids to be able to tell their friends that their mom ran a marathon? Better to set the example that you are a real person with real interests and might I add, the superhuman ability to run a marathon. I don't think it's fair for a partner to ask you to reconsider something that makes you happy. It's not like you're wanting to start base jumping. Take care of mom first.

I have thought about this so much in the years since becoming a mama... I was in fantastic shape before having children. For various reasons, I've never gotten back into the swing of things. I go in spurts where timing and motivation meet and I can get a run/walk/yoga class in. But it's never been a regular, can't miss part of my day or week. I've envied the mamas who stay in such fabulous shape and wonder how they do it. I have also been resentful at times toward my husband for needing to go for runs and long bike rides on the weekends, when his time at home with us is already quite limited.

I recently joined a new yoga studio and bought an unlimited pass as part of a special they were running, and I am loving it. Now that I have carved out an hour a few times a week for a few weeks I am wondering how I couldn't "find time" in weeks/months/years past. I feel stronger, more centered and more ready to be in full mama mode when my boys come home from school and need me. I'm also sleeping better and feel more rested, more patient. I do feel strongly that when we take care of ourselves, we are better mamas and I'm experiencing that for myself right now. I've also made plenty of sacrifices on behalf of my kids and my family, and there is no dishonor in that. But I think there is something to be said for really going for it too--your kids need to see that you have a life outside of being a mama, and they would be so proud to cheer you across the finish line!

In my opinion, this is one of those balance issues... Know that you are not alone!

I read the title as 'Manhood: The Sacrifice and the Indulgence Of It All" and was really curious as to what that post would be about!

Well, I think that running a marathon isn't just the running that day - it's all of the hours of preparation towards it, and the recovery afterward. Maybe some people can just finish the run and then go on to something else, but I think that a lot of people pretty much need the whole rest of that day to recuperate/celebrate, and then taking it easy for a few days afterward while your muscles recover.
I don't know what life changing transitions are. Is someone going to be going through chemo, and you need to be 100% ready to be available? Are you moving and need to spend that time packing or fixing up a house?
If you would be training between now and the marathon anyway, then maybe you can line up other support for that marathon day and the day after and go ahead and do it. If you need to stop training and work on something else, then that's a bigger time issue.
I do want to echo a couple of other sentiments from comments above, for what it's worth. No one knows your situation, but I would say that mamas definitely have a harder time holding on to "me" time and give it up too easily, and that feeling good about yourself and working towards a big goal like this shows yourself, your kids, your family something important about yourself, if you can do that and still be present for your family.
My dad and mom both ran a lot when I was growing up, and I resented the time commitment. The training, the marathons and shorter runs - it seemed like a lot of our "free" time was riding bikes along with them while they ran, driving new routes to clock them, waiting in the car or on the sidelines of runs for them to finish. That's an extreme, but just check yourself against that and your family needs and be honest with yourself if you need this marathon or not. If you do - then do it apologetically. If you don't, then grieve it and move on, or schedule another marathon in the future when this life change is under control and don't move from that schedule!

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