Above is an oval car sticker I created around 6 months postpartum. Motherhood in all it’s glory.
Dear Endurance Athlete;
Yes, Mom, I mean you.
The one who carried an extra 10, then 20, then 30 pounds (maybe 40?) for months. Who endured nausea and night sweats and migraines.
Who hydrated like she was cycling in a multi day road race.
And peed like she was on a diuretic.
Who ate countless servings of veggies and protein. And don’t forget about choking down those prenatal vitamins..
The one who sacrificed her body – the result not being a fit and trim, muscular machine – but instead one that endured spider veins, digestive problems, sciatica..
Who may have had to make big lifestyle changes in diet, or ceasing smoking, drinking, or even taking certain medications.
And least acknowledged by sometimes most felt, who was scared and tired and sad at times. Or more often than not. Who may not have known that many women feel exactly the same way, and get help.
Who slowly grew into a life giver herself. Who said goodbye to her body as she knew it. Who may have endured surgery and the trauma that often occurs. For something bigger than her own life. For someone she was only beginning to know, who would change so much more than her figure, forever..
And, an emphatic Yes! this includes adoptive Moms, sin doubt. Because the first nine and half months is only a drop in the bucket of the change that will come, and the strength and courage you will need to be.. Mom.
There are and will continue to be 2 am wake ups, not to get on the bike and train through the night for that next multi-day event. Instead, to feed and change and rock your child back to sleep. Or to take them to Urgent Care for a high fever. Or to make sure they did, in fact, get home by curfew. And are safe and sound in bed.
There will be sacrifices. Perhaps something as small like giving up a daily coffee in order to pay for your child’s soccer/art/dance/karate participation fees. They may be more burdensome, like my own mom did in getting a second job to keep the refrigerator full. And for some, it can mean taking care of a child with a progressive disease like Type I Diabetes or a disability like Cerebral Palsy. As a Mom, you are guaranteed very little, and expected to handle whatever comes. And I want you to know that you can and should ask for help.
Because no one succeeds at motherhood alone. Ever.
Hopefully, every now and then, you are recognized as the most “enduring” of athletes. One who wears her heart on the outside of her body, by another, doing the same. A friendly glance and nod. An acknowledgment as you pick up your tantrumming toddler from the grocery store/play ground/library floor. In small ways, daily, you need to know that you are not in the ‘motherhood’ alone.
In the days of Warrior Dashes and Tough Mudders and Iron Woman contests, you are the true warriors. As someone who spent more than a decade training for and participating in endurance events, absolutely nothing will ever compare to the journey of motherhood. In all it’s blood and poop and sleepless nights, it is the most important service I will offer another human being.
And in the final analysis for me, I sincerely hope that this service has not just been restricted to my child, but has made me more open and willing to offer my support and love to many mothers and children of all ages.
Thank you for being, Mom.
And as a post script of sorts, here is one of my favorite commercials, produced for the Rio Olympics last year.. “It takes someone strong, to make someone strong.”
What about Dads? Dads are not excluded from this process.. Father’s Day is on it’s way, next month. You are not forgotten, and will be dually admired for your unique contributions.