On medals and a job well done

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I survived the Ragnar race this weekend. I survived a hill that I thought might benefit from a set of stairs. I survived it all on three hours sleep and many hours of togetherness with very smelly runners trapped in my van. I survived running lonely roads in the black of  night and lots of small talk and the four-hour drive home on very weary legs. I had more fun than I thought possible, and I added another medal to my growing collection of bizarre running paraphernalia. This medal has a functional bottle opener. Because, let’s be honest, it just makes good sense to have one at the ready once you cross the finish line.

There aren’t too many things in the life of a stay at home mom that make one feel accomplished. You no longer receive validation in the form of good grades from your favorite professor, or a paycheck at the end of the month, or a glowing report from, well, anyone. Your words fall mostly on deaf ears, or at the very least hostile ones, and when you tick one task off your list, another one of equally mediocre importance takes its place. Your people consume your evening’s work in less than fifteen minutes, and the return you see for all of your daily efforts doesn’t come until many years later, when your children have children of their own and they suddenly realize you’re part saint. At least you hope they do.

Fourteen years into this parenting gig, I admit to you that this is part of the reason I run. The sense of accomplishment, the setting of a goal and reaching it, the camaraderie, and the verbal affirmation of people cheering on the sidelines. They see the sweat and the shaking limbs–they know how hard I’ve run.

The heavy lifting of parenting–of loving in the face of rebellion, of praying without ceasing, of holding vigil for your child’s heart–these are the races we run without the cheering crowds and handmade signs. These are the ones that leave us sweating and shaky limbed, utterly exhausted from the effort, only to hear a roaring silence at the end of the day. I remind myself on the hard days that these treasures I gather, this holding of hearts and uttering of well-worn prayers, they are impenetrable. They cannot be destroyed by moth and rust. Thieves can’t break in and steal them. And then I cry and fling myself onto the bed in a fit of melodrama befitting my eight year old. When I stop crying  I tell myself, someday, I will see the reward. I hope a small portion of it this side of Heaven.

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  • I have thought of this many times,
    and have been writing some about how running mirrors my life in so many ways.
    There is a beginning, a mid battle and a rewarding end. But the beauty of
    running and racing is in the immediate
    feedback and finality of it. The end of a race helps me have that sense of
    accomplishment you mentioned, and at the very least, an opportunity to evaluate,
    which in turn offers me a do-over (there is always another race around the
    corner), a luxury I don’t and won’t get with parenting.

    If you have a minute, you can
    check out my first (and so far only) blog post on my “a reason to run” series. What you wrote abou today is in my collection of half written posts that hopefully will surface someday.

    http://www.susanellen.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-reason-to-run-part-1.html

  • Mark Allman

    Kimberly,
    Congratulations on that. I think it is great. Although I can’t tell which chicken you are.. maybe front third from the left? you should feel great with that. Those races you run as a mom where you can’t hear the crowd is because the cheering does not catch up for a while. It does lag although you deserve it all the same. I think it is tougher to run those races where the cheering lags and the medals don’t get given out right away. That is one thing that makes you mom’s so great. You keep doing the great things without any of that encouragement.

  • Kimberly Amici

    congrats
    Yes, this side of heaven would be nice…

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