Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why I'm Not a 'Real' Running Mom

 “I’m probably just as good a mother as the next repressed, obsessive-compulsive paranoiac."  ~ Anne Lamott
The 'Running Mom' movement has really, really, gained momentum, and I am happy and grateful for it. I'm grateful that moms have the support of other moms to get out there and run: to carve out time for themselves; to understand that they have a right to claim that time for themselves; to get that they are better moms when they take care of themselves, that they still count too. Let's face the truth - there's still A LOT of people out there who believe that mothers should always put their families before themselves in everything they do. We moms even foist this crap on ourselves, berating ourselves for being selfish if we really want to go for a run. Moms have serious issues claiming time for themselves and feeling okay about it, so the moms running movement is a fantastic development, and it means that so many more moms are out there running, feeling strong and supported and empowered. And this makes them better moms. And let us not forget, that 40 or 50 years ago, women were simply not allowed to run long distances. And mothers??? No way. It went against nature. Things have changed so much, so much for the better, even in my lifetime.

Before I begin: A disclaimer
What I am about to say has to do with ME and me alone. This is not a comment on my friends, who I value and treasure, and who happen to also be moms. This is not about the wonderful groups of moms I sometimes run with - they energize and invigorate me. I envy their belongedness (Hmmm, There's a world) and I'm just trying to find my place in this silly world.

But here's my thing - I am NOT a 'Running Mom". Oh, I wish I was. I wish I fit somewhere, but I just don't, as much as I have tried. I usually feel that I'm in a no-woman's land of neither here nor there, and it can be a lonely place - or at least an awkward place, for me. I don't fit with my kid-less friends, and I don't really fit with my mommy friends - well, not the way they fit with each other.  It's sort of like that truism: Being a mother (biological) does not necessarily make you a mother/mom in the sense that matters - the "mothering' sense. There's reproduction - simple biology - and then there's more. Well, just because I'm a mother (I hope in BOTH the biological and nurturing sense) and I'm a runner, does that make me a "running mom"...OR, another mother runner????

First: I'm old: Older than all the other moms who have kids the age of my kid. Now, I may be immature and 'young for my age' and in denial about a lot of stuff, but I'm still sometimes 20 (or more!!!) years older than many of them. I could be their mother!!! So, this is awkward, and while they are nice to me, the truth is that they relate to me differently than their other mom friends.

Second: I was 'me' for a lot longer than I have been a mom: How do say this without offending people I admire and care about??? I am a mom who doesn't really feel that this is what defines me - but it's part of me. I spent the first 43 years of my life as 'me', no kids, no desire to have a kid until I hit 41. So, this mom thing is a bit of an after thought, and truth be told, I often feel like a bit of a fake in the company of other mom-runners. I mean this wasn't just part of my nature that manifested itself at the appropriate time. I'm all off, as usual. Un-natural. Odd. Oy.

Third: I was selfish for 43 years and that habit is ingrained: I've never had a problem claiming time for myself for running. My husband and I DID argue about OUR time, but we both stood our ground and claimed it. Yes, this can be a point of friction, but we worked things out, usually. That's still something we have to balance. I ran through most of my pregnancy. I bundled up my 5 week old daughter, in a Colorado, January winter, and ran for hours with her in the BOB without the slightest guilt about it. In retrospect, perhaps I should have felt guilt, but at that point, a new-old mom, I had no running mom friends - so I didn't even know how this stuff was done. I wasn't even on Facebook then! I knew running. I did not know mothering. So I muddled my way through. What did the other, 'real' moms think of these mothering gaffs? I can only wonder.
March, 2017: Three moths old
I suppose I approached the whole thing a bit like some of my climbing mom friends. Interestingly I do not see a 'climbing mom' movement the way I see a 'running mom' movement - maybe climbing moms are different? Hmmm. But my climbing mom friends took their infants out to the crags in back packs, bundling them up and attempting to keep them safe from any rock fall potential. Bringing the kid to the crag just seemed to be an extension of bringing the dog to the crag.

April 2017: 4 months old
Perhaps it's just the fact that I ran for so many years before I became a mother. Perhaps this is all 'in my head'. Perhaps I am making something out of nothing. Perhaps, perception is creating my reality. Or, maybe it just is true that some of us don't fit nicely into these things, as I have never fit anywhere. And this is one reason I love running - Runners often don't fit well anywhere, and find a fit in not fitting along with others who just don't fit so well. And mom runners, themselves, may not feel that they fit so well with non-running mothers which is why they gravitate to this community.

And yet, becoming a mother changed me. I may be a little less selfish. I know there's someone else in the world who I would die for without question and who I could not possibly love more, even when I'm angry as hell at her. Being a mother makes my actions in this world more important. She adds to my self, something I could not know before - but even that is a selfish thing - all about me - what she does for me. She renders all my actions more important in some intangible sense, can't quite put my finger on it, way.

And so I am a mother. And I am a runner. Does that make me this breed of 'mother runner'? I don't know. And perhaps I'm not the only one out there confused and conflicted about how these pieces fit together. It's a work in progress.


  1. I think we all have our own place in the "mother runner" world. I can see where you are coming from. For me, my journey was so different than yours. While I am not much younger than you (I, too, am often old enough to be the parent of other moms) I started running much later. Running came *after* I became a mother, which might be why I think of myself as a running mom more than a runner.
    I enjoyed this post and its honesty. One thing I like about the running community is that there is a place for everyone.

  2. What I love about the "runner" community is you are part of it by default if you run. What you put in front of it is your choice. Women, mother, friend, wife, trainer, coach - all those words can be used to describe you, no need to define yourself by just one. I feel that my kids became a part of my life, my life did not stop because I became a mother, it got better.

  3. I really appreciate your post! Although I am not a mom yet, I do hope that when we do have a child, our life isn't put on hold, but that our child becomes part of our life. A life that we have already created and live passionately for. I understand there will be adjustments, but I think it important for our child to see our own hobbies and interests. I hope that I'll be putting my child in a Bob and running for hours with him or her, too!


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