I was 19 when I had my first son, got married at 22 and had my second son that same year. It’s a lot of work, especially if you’re single. At 18, I had a full time job at a store called Hart’s. When I had my first son, I was making $3.35/hr. That was minimum wage at the time.
Anyway, I preface this with that. I graduated high school and less than a year later, I was a mom. At 40, I really didn’t know anything else besides being a mom and working full time. Like a million, zillion other moms out there. This isn’t a “I’ve had it so much harder than any other mom” story. No. All moms work their asses off and go through hard times raising babies and trying to pay the bills. I don’t care if you’re HBIC at your workplace or if you’re a stay at home mom. We ALL sacrifice most of ourselves for our kids and no matter where you spend your hours during the day- we’re all the HBIC. This is a story on the ONE thing I’ve ever done as an adult that was just for me.
Running. I’ve written before about running and how I got into it. But what I’ve never told anyone is what running told me about myself.
When I started running I was trying to save myself. And I did. I went from being very depressed to getting out of the house every day, going to a high school track and running. I couldn’t run for 1 minute when I started. No joke. Not 1 minute. I trained 3 months for a 5k. I knew nothing about distance running. So, I was learning and reading about different running shoes, stretching exercises and the correct foot strike, along the way. My first race was a 4th of July race, which probably has the largest field of runners for our smedium city. I was thrilled to have finished it! No feeling like it. Or so I thought….
The following weekend I had another race in a city not far from me. It was a trail race called Flirt with the Dirt. Two things happened at this race. 1) I realized I loved trail running & 2) It was the first race I placed in! It was completely unexpected! My second race ever and I, me, 40 year old Stacey, placed in a race with other really good runners. But wait, I don’t tell you that to brag. I tell you that to bring you to what it told me.
I was good at something. It had nothing to do with the kids, or a husband or anything else. It was all me, for me. As a mom, you’re never selfish. We make mistakes but generally, we’re available to everyone at any given time. So, when I placed, it was the first time in my adult life that I KNEW I would’ve been good at anything else I may have done if my life. I had wondered what if I had gone to college after high school, what if I had moved across the country- just things I think most moms wonder when they have babies young. I always felt I was a pretty good mom and I’ve always taken pride in that. I think my boys would most likely agree. But taking pride in something you’ve done and feeling proud of yourself are two different things.
I had gladly given my whole life to my kids and a husband. But, at this point in my life, I had a little more free time because I was now divorced, one son had his own place and my youngest son was driving and pretty much self sufficient. It gave me the extra time to run every day, work on my times and take care of myself. It was the first time in my life that I had worked for something just for me. And I was successful. It gave me the confidence to believe that I could’ve made it anywhere.
I recently read an article on the growing popularity of women-only trips. A group of friends and strangers, go on an adventure together. The New York Times said that the trips that catered to women and pushed the limits, resonated the most. Why? I believe, most women live within limits that keep us structured and “safe”. Mostly, because we are responsible for other people, therefore, we keep our household fairly structured and safe. So,to be able to go on an adventure, with other women, and see what you’re made of- sounds like a life changing opportunity. Just know that you don’t have to go far away or be with anyone else to get the same result. Full disclosure though: I’d totally go on an adventure with some kick ass women!
I used to be self conscious and aware of what other people thought of me. Once I gained self confidence and knew what I was capable of- I became comfortable with myself. Truly comfortable. Accomplishing something just for me, changed my life. I’m not as fast or as in shape as I used to be, but I’m a changed woman. I understand if you’re busy with kids, the house and work. I get it. But when you are able and available- My advice is: find something. Just for you and test your limits. You’re more than you think you are. I promise.
Thanks for reading,