Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Marathon of Parenting

Being a parent is the hardest, most exhausting and most rewarding job ever. Everyone tells you how amazing parenting is, and there's really no way to know it until it happens to you. When our son was born I told a colleague I realize why everyone thinks their kid is perfect: because they all are to their parents. 

Parenting is also unequivocally the most exhausting thing I've ever done. When my son was a newborn I got through the sleep deprivation on adrenaline alone. That time is mostly a blur, but I remember being awake in the middle of the night and looking down at my wide awake newborn. I forced myself to take in the moment and remember it. It wouldn't last forever. When he was about 18 months old the sleep deprivation caught up with me, and I've been feeling like a zombie for nearly six months. Thank God for facials to help with the bags under my eyes.

I may tell humorous (and frustrating anecdotes) about my child, but I'll never complain about the crazy moments. I waited six long years to have our son, and even the frustrating moments are worth it. Take this morning, for example, when I asked him to come inside and he ran away from me into the yard. He stepped in dog poop, which I did not realize until I was carrying his kicking toddler body back inside and it was already all over my dress. This was at approximately 8 a.m., and I had to do an entire costume change before my 8:30 meeting.  Even though I was frustrated, I love seeing him challenging his boundaries and becoming his own little person.

Refusing to wear the hat for his Halloween costume. Sassy.
My son loves "feeding" baby dolls (or stuffed animals) shortly before he throws them on the ground and jumps on them (he's all boy energy). Yesterday I swaddled a baby doll and then he wanted me to swaddle him instead. I swaddled my little boy and carried him around like a baby which he found hilarious. I felt nostalgic back to a few years ago when he was a less than six pound newborn, and the world was so shiny. This time is way more fun, but I miss that helpless little human. 

Every few months we write a letter to our son's birth mom telling her about him. It's so hard to encompass on an 8½ x 11 piece of paper how wonderful this child is. I want to gush but it feels weird to gush too much because she made this incredible sacrifice so we can be his parents. He will be two in December. He has such a sassy personality. He loves asking "why", playing with cars, snuggling and milk. He likes to "help" around the house whether it's mowing, cooking, or doing laundry. He likes to dance, watch Sesame Street and loves trains. He loves our dogs but really loves our cat Archie who is so patient with him. He loves to jump and climb everything. He's fearless and will jump off of anything - toys, steps, you name it. He loves to push his boundaries, but as soon as he's startled he jumps right into mom's or dad's arms. He's a good sleeper, and it's only partially his fault that his mom no longer is. He attended his first race expo when he was only three months old, and he loves watching Mama run races. I would love it if he's a runner, but really I hope he's a happy and healthy little guy. 

When it's a beautiful day in Colorado and your son wants to sit on the ground and play trains, you oblige.
This ottoman is for climbing into, right?
"Helping" make cupcakes
He hates eating because that means he has to stop running/jumping/playing. He's really into licking things (my favorite was when he licked the dog's paw - gross). He's the love of our life, and I cannot imagine our world without him in it.

Running marathons is hard (the hard is what makes it great, remember?) In that blog I wrote a few years ago I said: Running is hard and amazing and terrible and gratifying all at once. Some days I feel like running ten miles is the easiest thing I've ever done, and the next day I struggle with running one or two. I've never, however, finished a run and regretted it. For all of the hard stuff mentioned above, running is my sanity. It clears my head and helps me focus. Every single run is a challenge, and it is the hard that makes it great.

As hard as running is, I've learned that parenting is even harder. Even on my hardest long runs I get to control the outcome, and as a control freak I like this. Raising a child means you're not in control. You're not in control of when they're sick, when they're sassy, when they're whiny. My son is on rather rigid schedule, and yet he has days where I have no idea why he's so tired or crabby (not unlike adults.) But like running parenting makes me a better person. It's hard and amazing and terrible and gratifying all at once. For nearly two years I've loved every single minute of being a mom. Even right before Easter Mass where my son projectile vomited on me. Even in the ER in the middle of the night with hand, foot and mouth disease. Even in the middle of the night when I hear, "Mama?" being yelled from his room. While I'd like to change the circumstances and never have him be sick or tired, I love being his mom 100% of the time. 

Seeing this smile is everything.
Running marathons is hard, but it doesn't compare to the marathon of parenting. Parenting is more of a life-long ultra race where you have to pace yourself and fuel appropriately (I'm convinced parenting is why coffee and wine exist). You have to balance 1,000 things including work, friends, family, exercise, a clean house and of course that marriage that led to the desire to have this adorable child.  The vomit, the poop and the tears are footnotes to the amazing story of my little boy and the absolute blessing it is to be his mother. Life is long and it is hard, but there is joy in every moment. My son doesn't know it, but he taught me that.  

Halloween's happiest skunk

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