I took my toddler to the park yesterday. She was fussy and I have been hauling her around all week to get my errands done so I decided we needed a fun play date for her to get some fresh air and enjoy the playground. As I pulled up to the park and let her out to play, I noticed some of the other moms and kids who were playing and enjoying the nice, but hot weather.
The first mom was dressed very nicely with a trendy romper, designer sunglasses, and perfectly bleached blonde hair. Her kids were dressed well too. Another mom was out there with her two kiddos and dog and looked a little more disheveled, like she threw on her clothes too quickly as she must have raced out the door chasing her toddlers and dog! I noticed two other moms who were speaking another language. They were tan, fit, and had beautiful blonde hair.
Now, I was sporting a t-shirt, running shorts, and running shoes so I have no room to judge another’s physical appearances. This mommy budget does not leave too much room to indulge in the latest fashions, but I do try! However, my younger self would have been intimidated by the well dressed mom and may have been more critical of the less fashionable one.
As our children played, we visited and exchanged stories about our toddlers and their daily adventures and mishaps. I realized that yes, we were all somewhat different but when you become a parent, you tend to forget about these differences and bond over the challenges of raising children. We were all going through a similar experience and doing our best to raise our little ones to be healthy, independent adults! Sometimes the means and ways to do this is not always clear. However, we do the best we can knowing that we will make mistakes but that we will always love and support our children.
Being a parent is hard, but so rewarding! It requires late nights with kiddos, sleep deprivation, and at times, sacrificing your wants and needs for the sake of your children. But, sometimes it is through these challenges that we find strength, grow as individuals in our capacity to give, and in doing so become more real and experience the true joy of giving of yourself!
Which made me think about running. I think the reason why I like running so much is that like parenthood, running is hard. It requires a lot of time, effort, energy, and discipline. At times, running can be painful and challenging. And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we have a bad race, struggle with injuries, or fail to meet a personal goal. But often times, by going through these times of trial and hardships, we learn to find strength in our pain and efforts. Like parenthood, none of us are exempt from the inevitable “walls” that we experience in a race and in life. So, as runners we learn to bond despite our differences in an effort to help each other out and support each other through a tough race or a challenging workout. And because of that, we become are more kind, real, and empathetic to the needs of others. And that is a good thing!
I think this quote from John L. Parker Jr’s novel, Once a Runner, one of my favorite novels, sums this concept up quite nicely.
“running to him was real….the way he did it was the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free….”
See you on the playground!