For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much running has helped me keep sanity as a stay at home mom. And not just sanity, running has helped me feel grounded. Let’s be completely honest here, being a SAHM is tough, and not just because you are taking care of kids all the time- it’s lonely, isolating, and sometimes unfulfilling- and then there’s the guilt for feeling this way, right? Because being a SAHM is such a blessing- so where’s the happiness?
In The Beginning….
When my husband and I were engaged, we talked a lot about our future-classic, I know. We were going to be an unstoppable team that would change the world together. We were co-captains of our own destiny. We were motivated, we had dreams, and we were pumped! After we got married, we both worked hard, we both graduated from college, and the world was ours to conquer.
Then, the most amazing thing happened- I got pregnant! We were so excited, we made plans for me to stay at home with our new baby- and honestly, it was exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t imagine not being with my baby all the time. After the baby was born- it was bliss, and then reality sunk in. This baby ruled my life. It was joyful and tiring. I kissed my husband good bye every morning and watched as he left for an accomplishing and successful day. He interacted with people. He had lunch dates. He helped improve other people’s lives. HE LEFT THE HOUSE! I wasn’t used to staying inside all the time but taking a newborn- my very first- out in public was scary not to mention dangerous, I mean what kind of germs would my sweet vulnerable baby pick up out there? I was hardly getting any sleep at night and sleeping whenever I could during the day. My house was a mess, I constantly felt groggy and gross. And nine months later, I was pregnant again. I’ll be honest here- I cried. I wasn’t ready for another baby when I already HAD a baby!
I sat at home and watched as my husband went on to get two master’s degrees. Of course this left me at home alone even more while he juggled work and school. Then, the feelings of jealousy came. I suddenly felt like we were no longer co-captains, I had been sidelined and was suddenly the cheerleader while my husband continued to be the star. I know life wasn’t easy for him either, working full time and doing school full time, but to me, at least he was feeling accomplished, at least he was working towards something that had an end, and at least he was out in the world achieving his dreams. Not wanting to seem ungrateful and feeling guilty for my feelings, after all he was doing this so I could stay home with our kids, I kept everything inside. And then, before I knew it, I had four kids ages 4 and under.
The Early Years
Four kids broke me. I no longer had any control over anything. Everyday felt like chaos. I still struggled with jealous feelings of my husband’s experiences and success while I was at home covered in spit up, with no makeup on, and feeling gross. I was missing connection with the outside world and then feeling guilty for feeling unfulfilled. I mean, I had the best job in the world, right? I struggled with feeling lonely all day even though I was never alone. I would have all these ideas and no one to share them with. And the guilt!! I had been taught that being a mother was the greatest calling God could give a woman. This was what I was born to do, this was my calling in life, this was my greatest blessing, and it was, it truly was, but I’d look around and think, this can’t be it for me. I am capable of more! I can be a mother AND be more! I can contribute more to the world! I CAN!! I realized I needed to discover who I really was outside of being a wife and a mother. It wasn’t that I didn’t want motherhood, I just also wanted me. I didn’t know how to find ‘me’ in mom.
This is where running comes in. Running helped me discover me! I can set and achieve goals, I can be successful, I can push, and I can achieve something amazing. I can be amazing- amazing to myself and no one else.
Finding The ‘Me’
I’ve always loved running but during the 4 and half years of being pregnant, breast feeding, and then being pregnant again, I never got into a good routine. After my fourth baby, I was determined to get back into it. I wanted to run a marathon. I started running again. It was hard. I was out of shape. I had knee pain, something I had been struggling with for years, I felt awkward, but I kept at it. I met with a running specialist and fixed my knee. I ran a 10k- it was miserable! But I did it. I kept going, I kept running further and faster. With each step, my world seemed to settle around me. I felt grounded. Running became so cathartic for me. It was my time, my time to think, to ponder, to push, to be. I started training for my first marathon. I remember the first time I ran 11 miles. I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe my body was capable of such a thing. Each week I went further, and I was constantly surprised by what I could do! And then I ran 26.2 miles. I mean, WHAT? That is sooo far, but I did it! I DID IT!!!! I pushed my body and my mind further than I ever had, and I came out on top.
As running became a routine in my life, I noticed that things started to change. I no longer felt jealous of my husband. I felt accomplished. I felt a connection with people. I no longer felt lonely, even though I wasn’t necessarily around people more. I felt me. I was happy. I really started to love being at home with kids, and the guilt was gone. I really started to love life. I had found me.
Being True To Myself
I started to notice a pattern, whenever I started to feel off or depressed, I’d look around at my life, and think what am I doing or not doing that’s making me feel this way? I came up with a list that I call my Being True To Myself list. Whenever I start to feel off, I go to my list and double check that I am living true to myself. This is what is on my list: early bedtime, run/exercise, eat healthy whole foods, spiritual study, clean house, and having fun!! Without fail, every time I start to feel in a funk it is because I am not doing something on my list! So I adjust and life starts to feel better. Running is a crucial part of my list and living true to myself. Running is my me time and my peace time and my kick butt time! When I live true to myself, I am a better wife, a better mother, and a better person!
Find Your Thing
Running is my thing, but it may not be your thing. Find your thing. Find the thing that makes you shine for you. What makes you feel accomplished? Happy? Peace? What helps the world shift and settle around you? Find it and incorporate it into your life. It will bring you peace, and it will help you find you! Live true to yourself!
*Don’t get me wrong here, I love being a mother and have loved it since my first child was born. I have found joy during the whole journey; I was really good at stuffing those jealous and guilty feelings into a deep dark hole and not acknowledging them. In all honesty I was happy, but I still struggled with these feelings. I am eternally grateful for my husband and his hard work so I CAN stay home with my amazing kids. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
SAHM running mom