Quiet. I crave quiet. All day there is so much talking and questions and whining and squealing and laughter, definitely laughter, but also crying. So. Much. Crying. I am pretty much in the habit of keeping it completely quiet during nap so as to counter balance all of the constant noise previously and that to come when those glorious two hours come to a close. But it’s 9 AM. Naptime is a good 4 hours away. And we have thus far dealt with lots and lots and lots and yet again lots of noise. And in this particular day, much of that noise in the form of crying.
Lest you incorrectly categorize me as a super hero mom who can calmly respond to such typical behavior of young children, may I remove the veil and point you in my direction, sitting in the closet, with the lights off, while both children are crying for reasons unknown beyond the closed door. It’s cliché, I know. But it was that or lose my snit. Not what I planned for that morning's activity.
Or, I thought, as I tried to pull myself together and come up with a better game plan that would not involve child neglect, or…I could move. Not move away, oh that sounded so lovely though. No, I needed to just move. Move my feet, move my body, move my arms, move my breathing. I needed to pack those two sound machines into the minivan of strollers and take us for a walk. Or a run. Or a skip. Or a combo of all three. It did not have to be pretty. It did not have to be measured. But it did need to be fresh air and it needed to be movement. So without a moment’s hesitation or explanation, I threw on a sports bra and shoes (Well isn’t that a pretty picture), I strapped the kids in, I cued up a podcast, and we started to move.
Silence. Just like that, one simple move, and all was quiet. Nearly all anyway. I could hear the buzz of the city. I could hear the chatter in my ear buds of whatever podcast mood struck me that day. And occasionally I could hear a few cheerful babbles from the youngest rider. But for the most part silence, which is when I know that this plan was exactly what we all needed at that very moment.
Rewind 6 months ago and I was knee deep still in the overwhelming world of new mom of two, alone most days just trying to make it from one nursing session to the next while still keeping a busy two year old entertained. I was exhausted, as you might expect, and dizzy with confusion of it all. But I read something that struck me. Girl, get up and run, the author, Maggie Whitely, commanded. She shared her journey of discovering the importance of finding a way every single day to just get outside and move with her kids. And walking always turned into running. What I found so powerful about this was she wasn’t training for any particular race. She wasn’t following mileage schedule or pace tracking or even aiming for any goal in particular other than just getting up and going. And her whole purpose was to change her attitude about herself as well as set a good example for her children. Right on, girl. I could do that.
And so I did. Just about every single day, sometime in the morning I loaded the kids up, plugged in my headphones, and we walked. The only goal I set in my mind was to be gone for at least an hour and a half, but often more. This time was filled with mostly walking, occasionally running, often included a break to pop into the grocery store for a couple items, and almost always included a visit to the playground. And when I was feeling especially motivated, I would sometimes build in strength training exercises while chasing Caroline on the park and letting Elliott nap in the stroller. Happiness all around.
This was probably one of the single best decisions I made for myself and for my family in the post-partum period this time around. With my first, I took a very long time to get back into an exercise routine. There were so many reasons to not. I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t leave her, it was too dark, too cold, too hot, we moved, I needed a race to train for. On and on and on. And I am not denying those reasons were valid. It is really really really tough to get your normal back. I simultaneously craved the old me while also feeling paralyzed by how to even start finding it. But I think what I learned this time around is maybe instead of trying to find the old me, I needed to just start loving the ME. The Me for who I am in that very moment, whether it was super awesome has all her snit together mom, or hiding from her children in the closet mom. Whoever I was, I needed to just embrace that, without any expectations, and just move. Because everybody knows that exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t yell at their children. They just don’t.
So I have kept up with that mantra. Get up and run. It fits my overall philosophy well. Wake up. Run. Quiet. Repeat. I can do this. No rules. Just start. And so I do. The summer put the brakes on our plans a bit, as it always does, what with the 90 thousand degree temperatures already at 8 AM. But it’s Fall in Texas now, finally, which means cooler mornings, ideal for getting out and getting going. For the quiet part, definitely. But also, this week begins my twelve week training for a half marathon. It will be my second attempt since becoming a mom. I wrote about my struggle with my first half marathon post-partum. A defeating yet truly eye opening experience. I vowed someday I would learn from that run and not let it define me. What would define me now, as my final take away from that last race, is I am a mom and I am a runner. No longer do I need to put expectations on what type of runner I USED to be but instead focus on who I am now. Just a mom, getting outside, for a little piece and quiet, and a happier, clearer mind.
If you need a little more quiet in your life, a little less mental fog and little more inner peace, then move. Give yourself a running start. I could really use a few virtual joggers beside me over these next few months. But try to keep the cheers quiet, will you? I could also use some peace and quiet.