I had a baby. Yup, another one. It’s safe to say that the past 3 years of my life I’ve felt like a hormonal milk-spewing baby factory. That being said, it’s also undeniable that I’ve loved (almost) every moment. Well, other than the first and last 3 months of pregnancy, going through labor, the 4 weeks of newborn sleeplessness, having my conversation and thinking skills reduced to toddler nursery rhymes, the erratic and uncontrollable hormonal rollercoaster ride, the inevitable hyperactive mom anxiety that accompanies a fresh baby, and trying to tame a wild 2 year old and sassy 6 year old while caring for the newbie.
I’m not one of those “glowing” pregnant women that revels in the miracle of life growing in her womb. No, I see pregnancy as a grueling means to a beautiful end: I grind through the first 12 weeks feeling as though I drank way too many wine coolers the night before, try shamelessly for the next 6 weeks to squeeze into pre-pregnancy pants in stark denial of my growing girth (shoutout to my girl Vanessa who looked at me one day and said “Uh-uh Steph. You can’t wear that anymore.”), then submitting for the last 12 weeks saying “eff it, homegirl’s gonna get huuuuge” and rounding out the 9 month odyssey eating cake for breakfast and bacon nachos for dinner erry’day. (I’m pretty sure my husband said “Wow, you’re really going for it!” on more than one occasion. My response was always a blank stare, likely accompanied by some bacon grease dripping down my face.)
Okay, that was a long clause- but I promise I love being a mom.
As the newborn-rearing fog slowly fades and I gradually feel myself emerge from The Walking Dead level of consciousness, I have started to have thoughts. Yes, I have been able to string a few coherent ideas together enough to be inspired to write.
I had a really hard time in the first few weeks after bringing our little Poppy girl home. I was overwhelmed by the thought of making dinner even before lunchtime hit. I would set aside everyone’s pyjamas (even my husband’s. Ok maybe not…) hours before bedtime in panicked anticipation for the chaos of bedtime. I lay in bed at 8pm unable to fall asleep because I knew I would have to wake up every 2 hours throughout the night.
I became so consumed with the difficulties and frustrations of life that I was unable to see joy in the little things that make motherhood all worth it. I guess doctors call this the “Baby Blues,” but I call it being freaking human.
Ironically (and I say that because I used to have harsh feelings towards the sport), it was running that helped me change my perspective on the seemingly overwhelming feat of raising 3 children.
As I ran ever so slowly through the Ponderosa Pines one morning, the 50 pounds of baby weight making each step feel like my feet were stuck in mud, I realized how pushing through the frustrations of being physically unfit is a lot like fighting through the sometimes overwhelming nature of early motherhood.
I am still very new to running, but I can remember being so distressed with a bad day of running that I questioned why I even tried. I would spend the rest of the day ruminating over how much running sucked. Sometimes this trend would last for days, until I found myself running spritely through the trees, feeling the liberation that the practice offers.
And then I would remember why I did it.
After all, if running was easy, we wouldn’t do it, would we? A large part of what makes running so satisfying is that it is often hard. Like motherhood (or life in general), it is overcoming the hurdles of hardship that makes running so worthwhile.
It is easy to slip comfortably into discomfort, wallowing in self-pity and submitting to failure. It isn’t until we emerge from the hard times that we begin to see their worth. That’s where I’m at right now- appreciating the rough patches because they make the good times that much sweeter.
Having a particularly frustrating day of training makes the days when you feel like you’re weightlessly flying so very exciting. Working through injury makes you appreciate your health in ways you never imagined. Finishing a race that you think you’re going to drop-out of every single mile is so much more satisfying than ending one effortlessly.
Likewise, the shrill cries of a newborn make a soft coo or wide-mouthed smile all the more magical. Sibling bickering (or all out war) makes the moments of tenderness between your children even more beautiful. Waking every 2 hours to soothe your baby makes those 8 eight hour stretches so appreciated.
As I ran through the woods that day- painstakingly slow as I urged my body back to fitness- I was reminded of the beauty in adversity. I realized that it is in the space between failure and success that we find our greatest strength.