A few days ago, a svelte, fit, hair-brushed, made-up Mom in a cute, well-fitting track suit and shiny clean sneakers asked me, in my baggy sweatpants, unshowered and unbrushed hair, no makeup, and something orange dribbling down the front of my shirt, if I was a runner. My first response was no, but I didn't want to say that, because I could see in her eyes that being a non-runner was just as bad as not showering before picking up my daughter from pre-school. So, I sort of told a somewhat half-truth white lie. "Not really. Not anymore. I have four kids..."
Because there was this time, once, when I was a runner. Off and on, that is. In High School, for about two months out of the year, I ran track. And then there was that time in college that I ran every night- for about one and a half weeks- before taking just one night off... which led to three years off.
And then again, when I got pregnant with my oldest, I decided to take my dog for a brief run every night in order to stay in shape through my pregnancy... but then bedrest ended that.
And last summer I did get a new pair of running shoes (and a new puppy) and did nightly runs with him for another few weeks... until I took just one night off... which led to now.
So I have sort-of, somewhat, sometimes, been a runner. But I have four kids now, so it's really hard to be a runner. It would involve having to either A/ get out of bed unrealistically early to take a jog-- which is not going to happen. I love my bed. B/ sacrificing my quiet time at the end of the day when I can actually just sit on the couch and read-- again, not going to happen. I need my fantasy life. or C/ investing in a $600 jogging stroller... uhm... yeah, I'm cheap. (But I am open to donations!)
So, having four kids justifies my lack of running, I would say... although, I think I could also argue that having four kids makes me more of a runner than anyone else. That's four different runs to the grocery store on the day that I forget specific items promised to the kids. Four different runs in four different directions when I hear a scream in one room, followed by a squeal in another, followed by sounds of fists in a third, and then a dreadful silence in a fourth- -that to a mother speaks of only one thing: some horrible mess is going to need to be cleaned up. Most days, this is a five-way run, since I can tell the sound of the dog's paws hitting my counter as he goes for my pot roast cooling. So, yes, daggone it, I am a runner. I run to keep the cookies from burning; I run to chase down the dog that the 18-month old just let outside; I run to throw a helmet after a quickly-peddling 8 yr old on a bike; and I do the long jump over the loads of laundry that I've left sitting in the middle of the living room floor for three days. A few weeks ago, three kids and a dog and I even went for a jog around the neighborhood. They all beat me-- even the three year old-- and I did beg one of them- any of you, I don't care who, just go!- to run back and tell Daddy to bring me the car, but they refused. But I did run. So, yes, perfectly coifed and good-smelling mother-runner. I'm a runner, too.
But what's with this new fad of running? Sure, it's refreshing-- if you're not bent over heaving up your guts. It's exhilarating-- if you like having your nose frozen and your toes blistered. And it's good for you. But so is sleep. But running is the cool thing to do now. (Or maybe it always has been, and I've just never been cool.)
But you can't go anywhere around Elkridge without passing someone running. I don't mind so much in the summer when they (and by they, I mean the men) are shirtless and sweating; but it just annoys me to see people running in the rain. Don't you know RAIN is God's way of saying "Put on sweatpants and stay in bed... or don't even bother with the sweatpants, it's cool." And I will never appreciate the sight of sexy, half-naked summer-running females---especially the ones pushing double-jogging strollers. These I can ignore when I'm alone in the car, but when my husband is with me I tend to get tired of hearing the "Uh, honey, let's get one of those for Christmas.... The JOGGING STROLLER, I Meant the Jogging Stroller, I swear! Please stop hitting me!"
But running does flow through my blood. Proof positive being my daughter, Kayton, who
has joined a great organization -- Girls on the Run-- which has her training for 5ks for a whole semester. She loves to run, and she's a real runner. When she runs, she really looks like she's flying, with her legs perpendicular to her body and her hair a mile behind her. She reminds me of the Goddess Diana in my old Greek Mythology books-- minus the bows and arrows... and the sex appeal, of course. Kayton's only nine, for goodness sake, but she's already run four 5ks, and she's prepping for her next one in December. She'd be much faster if she didn't enjoy it so much and have so much fun doing it, so I happily choose the latter over the former. I've always, somewhat boastfully, informed Kayton that she got her running gene from me. She was inclined to believe me (albeit skeptical), since she'd never seen her father run; but then a few days ago JMahl apparently got tired of me getting all the (skeptical) glory and went for a run with her. She came home glowing and exclaiming "Daddy's fast! Why didn't you tell me?! He beat me!!!"
I hadn't told her because, honestly, I hadn't known. I've only ever seen JMahl run twice in our time together. Once was a few days before our wedding when I caught him going out the back door in the middle of the night wearing a pair of sneakers and a backpack stuffed with his birth certificate, a picture of his Momma, and a pack of Newports. Apparently, running with a backpack is a great way to get in shape for a wedding, he was told. The other time was a few weeks ago, right after I asked him if maybe he might consider having another child. I'm not sure what possessed him to take off across the neighborhood in his boxers, but luckily, the indecent exposure charges were dropped. Apparently, after the cop had determined he was sober and got his side of the story, he (coincidentally, a father of four) didn't feel inclined to take him to the station and just brought him home with a strict warning to me to not mention pregnancy to him again unless he was fully clothed.
So, apparently, my husband is a runner, too. Now, all I've got to do is get us both well-fitted track suits, shiny running shoes, and a shower, and maybe someone will believe us when we say so. Heck, yeah, Mother-Runners!