A blog by runners. For runners.

Runner’s Column: Why I still run

A mother shares how running helped her return to feeling like herself - and making her life full - after children.

Most of them tell me that I’m crazy. I smile and shrug. But then there are the comments that sting.

“Your kids are only this young once. Why are you wasting your precious energy and time training for a marathon?”

Something strange happens as soon as you have a child. You become “mom”. This is definitely the most rewarding and possibly the most overpowering role out there.

You see, when you become “mom” society often sees you as no one else. I love my children more than I ever thought possible, but as soon as I had my son, I lost me.

Every single minute of every day revolved around him. I went from having a fulfilling job and active social life to letting a tiny person’s “needs” dictate my day. I traded conference calls, group think sessions, deadlines, and girls’ nights out for strict schedules, playdates, nursery rhymes, and bedtime routines. Motherhood is all consuming. It comes in like a tidal wave and if you’re not careful, it can drown you.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed being a mom from the start, but I also missed me. I spent 29 years living for myself, and now I was living entirely for someone else.

Some mornings I’d be jealous of my husband. His life didn’t change as much when our son was born. He still went to work and interacted with adults. Some days the only adult I talk to in person is the grocery store checkout clerk. When I do interact with my friends and neighbors, they don’t call me by my name. Actually, some of them don’t even know my name. I’m just “Wyatt’s mom” and “Hadley’s mom”. I’m guilty, too – I address my friends the same way.

When the blur of my son’s first year of life finally started to clear up, I had a revelation. It wasn’t motherhood’s or society’s fault that my new role consumed me – it was my fault for allowing it to do so. So, I stopped saying “no” to invitations and opportunities just because I was a mom.

When I got pregnant with my daughter later that year, I made a promise to myself not to lose me again this time. My daughter is 5 months old now, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t lost myself in the sea of motherhood because I’m working towards this big goal.

I’m running the New York City Marathon in November. I deferred last year’s entry due to pregnancy, so I have literally been “training” for this race for over a year. Every pregnant run. Every time my alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. Every killer double stroller mile – NYCM is the only thing on my mind.

Maybe it isn’t the smartest decision to run a marathon when you have a 6-month old. But this silly goal means so much to me. It’s something I’m doing for me – Jen. I also happen to be “Wyatt’s mom” and “Hadley’s mom” now, but on November 2 I’m going to spend (hopefully fewer than) 4 hours running for every part of me. I’m running the race to show myself that motherhood isn’t the only thing that defines me.

Some say that women who can successfully balance motherhood and their other passions have it all. That goal has never seemed realistic to me. But when I add running into the motherhood equation I feel like I have enough, that my life is complete. And that’s more than I ever could have asked for.

Written by Jen Matz.

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