Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doing for Yourself

It's a cold, damp and dark Sunday morning. I'm awake, but barely. I roust the sleeping 4-year old, layering him with t-shirts, coats, hat and mittens. Coffee goes into a thermos, orange slices into a lidded container and I slip a couple of organic suckers from Trader Joe's into my coat pocket. A bribe, I think to myself. I'm going to need them, it's going to be a long wait.

The two of us barely say a word, we buckle into the van and start the 30 minute drive just as the sun starts to break the horizon. About 20 minutes into the ride we start to see the route markers, a police car or two and groups of people gathered along side of the road. We keep driving, winding through neighborhoods looking for the best parking place, close to the finish line. I look at my watch, worried we might miss it and my son notices my sense of urgency. Mom! We're missing it, hurry!

Like it was meant to be, the small parking lot across the covered bridge that leads directly to the park has many open spaces left and we turn in and park near the front. Moving quickly now, the van doors open, I pop the stroller open and we briskly cross the bridge. There are cables to navigate the stroller over, throngs of people blocking our path and curious dogs interested in the sucker my son holds. We're on a mission, there's no time to stop to pet soft doggies or peek at all the cool electronic equipment and TV screens, we need to get a good spot.

We maneuver into position, wrap ourselves in a blanket to stay warm and hunker down and we wait. I wonder how long it will be now, already a sleepy boy up too early is getting fidgety. Watch, I say, you don't want to miss it! Keep watching, it's going to be fast!

All of a sudden, we spring to our feet. We see a familiar face, a lucky T-shirt we've carefully hung on the drying rack many a Saturday, a new pair of shoes that look like a blur. It's Daddy I shout, hurry, yell loudly! He's going to pass us by! With a big smile my husband flies past us, picking up speed now. The finish line is near. Cow bells clang in my ears, deafening the voices. I see the back of his head disappear into the crowd of people bunching up in the gates.

There's a flurry of confusion as I push the stroller through the crowd as my son looks for his Dad We're shoving our way to the end of the gates, not so politely now. Can't they tell? We're trying to get through - we don't want to miss it!

At 40 years old, my husband completed his first half-marathon. He wasn't first, not even close. But, he wasn't last, not even close. His smile is so big, his cheeks are bright red and there's sweat running down his forehead. A tiny 4-year old hand gives a high-five and reaches for the medal his Daddy lets him grab and slip around his neck. My husband reached a goal, one he set for himself and kept his promise. He ran for himself, he ran when the lawn probably needed a good raking, he ran when the bathroom needed a good scrubbing, he ran when he needed to and it was OK.

As I watched him congratulate friends that crossed the finish line with him - some who came in before, others that lagged behind - I felt a twinge of sadness. Not for him, but for myself. I often choose to scrub the bathroom, rake the lawn or get the groceries instead of doing something for myself. From the look on my husband's face, I can tell I'm missing out. I need to start doing for myself.

This weekend, I pick up my new bike. I've thought about it for years, getting back into running, cycling and yoga, but always told myself that I didn't have enough time, I was too busy. I make time for my four boys, their sports, their homework, their hobbies. I make time for my husband, his running, his training, his work. I make time for dogs, dentists, work, cleaning, community, schools and even this blog. Now, I need to give myself the same limitations, give myself room to breathe.

It's a small thing, but a bike is my ticket to finding myself, spending time with my family and enjoying the outdoors. It's green, not only in color, but in lifestyle. Now that it's there, there won't be an excuse not to cycle to the market at the corner, to the library down the street or to the diner at the end of the trail with my family. Doing something for myself, doing something for the environment, doing something for my family, that's the best kind of doing.

I am not too busy today, I am doing for myself and it feels good.


Heather @ SGF said...

That's wonderful! Congratulations on the new bike. I've come to believe that we have to take care of ourselves if we are going to take care of other too. At some point, I realized that my own happiness must also be a priority. Happy biking!

Green Bean said...

It's the hardest thing, isn't it? To find time for yourself, to take care of yourself and get some exercise. Thank God for the bike. You remind me that I should get back on mine.

JAM said...

Yes, good reminder! I start to get resentful of everyone else that they get to do what they want and yet I know it's just me stopping me from doing what I want too. I love the bike - it's beautiful!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, this is lovely! Congratulations on the new bike, and congrats to your husband as well.

Mindful Momma said...

You describe so perfectly what so many of us mothers go through. It's not that we don't love doing all those things for our families but that we need to remember to help ourselves too.
Enjoy your new bicycle!

JessTrev said...

Oh, I so love this post. I will think of you every time I get on my bike now! You know, this is so timely for me, since I just got myself back into exercising a few months ago after telling myself I didn't have time for years. I literally just woke up one day and realized no one else was stopping me but myself. Maybe that can be a goal for us as a team of bloggers - to encourage each other to do the things that make us feel whole.

EcoBurban said...

Heather - I know you bike so avidly, I hope I can keep up with you! Yes, you're right - taking care of myself will make me a better wife / mom / person!

GB - I love the bike, I'm trying not to think about the exercise, though I need it!

JAM - I know what you mean, I did feel resentful time to time of my hubby feeling like he had all the time in the world to train, run and prepare. Then, I realized I was being a brat! :) I WAS stopping myself from being happy, I hope the bike changes that!

Elizabeth - Thank you, my husband is so proud!

Mindful Momma - Thank you for saying that, we do all need to take a moment to do for ourselves!

Jess - Hopefully you won't think of me huffing and puffing and probably walking my bike up a hill! The bike was so easy to ride in the parking lot where I "test-drove" it... The hills I am a bit afraid of!

Beany said...

Yay for new bikers! I'm so excited for you.

I have to say that riding is very addictive, pretty soon you'll wonder, "hmm, can I ride here? It's only x miles...." The possibilities are endless.

My favorite part about riding is that it allows me to engage my inner glutton.

FOO said...

Great post! Last year I wrote a post about my friend who *never* took time for herself until she *decided* to train for a triathlon - and she had never biked, run, or swam with any proficiency before. I was with her every stroke, peddle and step of the way and it remains one of my highlight moments. You can read about it here:


All the best to you on your journey!


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