Monday, February 28, 2011

On The Clock

Today I received an email from a woman with 5 children who reads my blog. She thanked me for writing. I thanked her for reading. I also realized if a woman with 5 children has time to read my blog then certainly this woman with one child has time to write one!

I’ve been busy. Who isn’t? Between work, workouts, mommy duties, wife duties (which are sometimes the hardest – you mean, I have to be nice and pleasant after a day of dealing with everything else and the world’s smallest poop machine!?). And so, I haven’t had much time to write about real life. Triathlon is not real life. It’s something we all do to escape the reality of life or challenge us when the pace of life doesn’t move quite up to our speed.

Balancing all of that? Leaves me busy. Yes, we the multisporters, are master multi-taskers. Perhaps all these years of endurance multisports prepared me for parenthood. Well, not really. You see, in multisport you can control the level of pain; speed up, slow down. In parenting, someone else controls it. Take, for example, the pain of listening to a child whine non stop all day can you stop -say- about 4 hours ago yesterday?

I’ll take a 40K time trial please.

Gender studies have shown that women are wired to multitask. Throw ten balls at us and we will juggle them. While drinking our coffee.


Speaking of coffee, the other day it finally hit me: I really just want a good cup of regular coffee. I am about two sips away from giving up this decaf shit but at the same time getting profound satisfaction from knowing that I control coffee, IT DOES NOT CONTROL ME! (not yet)

Even decaffeinated, these days I can cram more into ten minutes while most people would spend an hour walking around in a circle muttering to themselves deciding where to begin. In that time I’ve fed the baby, answered some emails, caught up on world news on the radio, let the dog out and downloaded my Power Tap.

I’m that good. I was destined for it. It’s all in my wiring. But like anything in life, it’s taken me time to find that type of rhythm. Say, about 7 months. Max is now 7 months. Finally I feel like I am getting the hang of him. Sshhh…I can’t say that too loud because I swear, once he catches a hint of my plans he immediately plots to foil them. Like this morning when he woke up at 5:45 am. He must have heard me thinking last night that I would get up at 5:15 am to have at least 90 minutes to myself to … hmm….eat, work, maybe just pee?

I can’t be the only mother who walks around the house one inch away from peeing myself when I remind myself it’s ok to take the time to pee. He can wait, right?

Something you need to do by the time they reach 7 months: get portraits. At first I was hesitant – is this yet another bullshit rite of passage (read: scam) like birthing classes, Disneyland and Santa Claus? Maybe but I don’t regret spending 15 minutes in the Target portrait studio for this:


He’s even cuter in person. And not a word about the man boobs! He's healthy!

Seven months is an exciting age. I suppose I’ll be saying that until he’s about 15 when I declare that 15 years is a highly irritating age, how soon until college? And how far away can he go while I can still afford it? But at 7 months each day is an adventure in learning and exploring. Something as simple as the first floor is uncharted territory waiting to be explored. Better yet, mouthed. He’s discovered that the house is full of things to pull off of shelves, carpet tassels to be eaten and low lying areas to wedge himself into.

Also exciting – solid foods. Get familiar with your purees, my friends, because it’s only a matter of years before we all find ourselves eating it again when we are elderly. When I am, I’d like to request a mix of blueberries and roasted apples and anything with avocado. I remember I couldn’t wait until Max was ready to eat solid foods imagining the fun in his discovery of mushified fruit and vegetable (goodnight, mush). And then I started feeding him. I don’t know how it’s possible but you can be covered head to toe in pureed spinach. Him and me.

The most challenging part of my day is not the workouts, the work, making food for Max or remembering the let the dog back inside after I’ve let him out, it’s carrying around an 18 pound child. I actually had to see my active release therapist not because of what I was doing in training but because I was being mommy. Note to athletic moms: don’t carry your kid on your hips. Your hips are meant for either mothering or running, not both. Now I carry him in front of me, like a shield of baby that I wear on my chest. Great for my hips, not so great for my back. Back to the active release therapist.

You’re just getting sore from being mommy.

Awesome. I can run marathons and ride my bike for a hundred miles but can’t carry my own kid around the house without near injury. I’m not sure what to do next. He’ll just keep getting heavier and my back will keep getting sorer. Maybe I’ll wear him on my back? I realize the real answer might be how soon until he walks but then I’ll probably trade in my sore back for plantar fasciitis from chasing him.

It’s a challenge to find time to actually “recover” from my training, if recovery means sitting, napping, relaxing and eating. Some days I look at the clock and realize that while every other living thing in the house has eaten, somehow I forgot me. Between that and going up and down the stairs roughly 100 times a day AND working out you’d think that I would be less than my pre-pregnancy weight. But that is not the case. That might have something to do with a co-dependent relationship on chocolate when it is in the house. That is why I often do not bring it into the house. But since my manorexic husband (how can a man whose daily diet includes corn chips and beer keep losing weight?) is doing the grocery shopping lately, all bets are off. I actually had him hide the peanut butter cups the other day. Then a week later I spotted them. I made it to 1 pm without eating one. The serving size is three so I at another two. An hour later I decided what’s six when you’ve already eaten three?

This has nothing to do with me not dropping 5 pounds. That has everything to do with the scale obviously needing new batteries.

I used to think that staying at home and being a mom would be easy. I started my own business because I had a passion for it and because I wanted to have a career I could do from home while raising my child(ren). There are some days I wish I could go to an office. Don’t get me wrong - I adore the opportunity to be home with my child. But there are days where I long for a reason to get dressed or for a conversation that doesn’t involve da da da followed by a few raspberries. For that reason, I will say this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Of course one of the most exciting and gratifying things but socially and personally challenging. When your job is to take care of another individual, most of your needs get pushed aside until you find yourself at the kitchen counter saying:

DAMMIT GO PEE ALREADY!

The other night, I went out with a friend who also stays at home with her now 3 year old daughter. Every time we go out, we go out for wine. We moms have a (healthy) relationship with wine. I realized this last week when it was Tuesday and I found myself daydreaming about a big glass of Chambourcin. On Saturday I made this dream come true. Twice. It was glorious.

So we went for wine and we were talking about the important things – like how I was wearing something other than yoga pants and how she took the time to straighten her hair because we were going out. In mommy terms, both of those are big investments of time without a lot of return. You straighten your hair and I guarantee you an hour later you will have bananas in it. You put on real clothes and I guarantee and hour later they will be barfed upon. So you fall into this routine of being safe and comfortable. Some call it “messy”. I’ll just walk around in pajamas because by the time the day buzzes by I’ll need to be in them again anyways. Underwear – optional. Bedhead – accepted. Odds that you’ll also be wearing poop – in your favor. And, sense of humor about it all – mandatory.

She works for a big organization from time to time teaching professionals how to put on high impact presentations. She gets out of the house, puts on business attire and articulates big words in her speech. She loves it because it doesn’t involve playing princess for 12 hours straight. Over wine, we shared our experiences. I told her my favorite day of the week is Tuesday, when I drive into Chicago to teach at Well-Fit. The reason: I am surrounded by adults, I am having adult conversations, getting adult feedback. True that I work from home but most of it online. My computer never talks back to me. Instead my days are filled with baby talk or talking to the dog in yips and growls.

It’s not the same thing.

Nothing replaces adult interaction. It feeds me socially and emotionally. All stay at home moms need to hear this. At home, by yourself with child = hard work. And trust me, I’ve had some hard jobs. I spent 7 years working for an organization that spent 3 weeks deciding what color font to use on our name tags. Seriously. But parenting – perhaps the biggest challenge yet. I used to think running my own business was difficult. I had to do everything – from development to human resources to accounting to maintenance. And then I had a child. This is harder. Because now someone else is right there needing things right now. His waiting skills – limited at best. His moods – unpredictable. His tendency to completely soil himself right after I’ve spent 10 minutes getting him clean and dressed before leaving the house – highly likely.

As you can imagine, we have to get out of the house for sanity. Sometimes we go to the bookstore. Or even shopping. Once you’re a parent though, something changes about shopping. You find yourself excited about going to the Carter’s outlet. And absolutely beside yourself when you find this:


This bib cracked my shit up. I’m not sure if it’s the helmet or the fact that that dinosaur obviously needs to be told his seat is too high.

To get out, I also signed us up for some activities. Today I signed up for storytime at the library, Diaper Dippers and music class. Around these parts, those are dangerous activities. I’m going to have to mix in with the other suburban moms who drive mini vans while driving their kid from one overscheduled activity to the next. I won’t drive our mini van (it’s Chris’ dream bike machine, not mine) but I still feel like I’m one degree away from putting a Baby on Board sign in the rear window or applying one of those stick figure family stickers to the rear window. You know, a figure for me, Chris, Max and Boss. Yeah, I’d be one of them.

Incidentally, my neighbor has a stick figure on her rear window that is a man, a woman and 4 cats. Underneath it says House of Twelve Paws. My athletes will tell you that my addition is shoddy at best but even after pulling out my calculator I cannot for the life of me figure out how that math adds up. 4 cats, 4 legs each, 16 paws. I just don’t get it.

But then I realize that I am lucky. So lucky to have designed my life to have the opportunity to watch Max's development unfold before me. I never miss a thing. I know why he cries. I know when he needs to nap. I know when he’s hungry. I understand him because I know him because I’m with him. For that, I am very, very lucky.

No matter how challenging or isolating each day can feel at times, I look back at each day and find myself smiling. Max is hilarious. He is a whole lot of Waterstraat but even more Fedofsky. Like Chris, he is a little engineer exploring the physical properties of everything. Like me, he has a lot of focused intensity. Watching him grow is one of the most incredible experiences and I get to see it every day. It's so amazing that I’ve already named his little brother. Someone asked me, you’re going to go up to bat again? Unless Chris magically grows ovaries, yes I will have to do it again. Am I looking forward to gaining a third of my body weight and sweating like the crazy man wearing sweatpants and doing jumping jacks in the dry sauna – no. But being on the other side now and fitting back into most of my clothes – ok, I can embrace the idea of doing it again.

Although there is no hurry.

And thus concludes nap time. No, not for me. A nap – ha! (please, don’t make me laugh. I’ve been holding my pee all day) Max is waking up and while most of us can wake up and lay there quietly thinking is it really morning again or COFFEE(!), Max goes from zero to all tears streaming in a matter of seconds. Like he’s alone in the wilderness of his crib left as coyote bait. For crying out loud, I’M COMING! One day we’ll work on those waiting skills. Until then, I’m back on the clock working on the next cycle of activity; play, eat, play, poop, sleep. At times the simplicity of it is refreshingly grounding.

If you have kids, I’d like to say – good job being mommy or daddy today. You don’t hear it nearly enough (we won’t even get into hearing “thanks”, I realize now that I owe my mom about 4000 backlogged thank you’s) and there is no bonus waiting except for the little smiles, hugs and cuteness that we get throughout the day. It’s hard work but then again that stuff makes for a pretty good paycheck. So, to all of you parents out there - good job today! Let's wake up and do it again tomorrow for - oh - the next, what, 18+ years?

14 comments:

Jennifer Harrison said...

You are right, we don't hear "thanks" as moms enough! I ache for adult time too and adult conversations.

I swear, you are spot on w/ the multi-tasking...this morning I had eaten, rode 2.5 hours, answered emails, watched the movie PRECIOUS and gotten thrown up on all before 7.30am!

And, we wonder why we are always hungry and need to sit down and actually try to recover!

It is so hard...the good news is that we are all in this together and it bounds us moms that are crazy enough to also do Triathlon!

You are doing a great job - but it sure is not easy for sure.

Melissa said...

So, can I just call you the next time I feel bad and need a "good job being a mom"?

E.L.F. said...

Ha ha - of course! I'll mail you a gold star too.

Molly said...

I'll just have to live vicariously (and distantly LOL) through you so keep up the updates :-)

Katie said...

I'm so glad you see how lucky you are that you're able to catch every moment. I'm in a position where I HAVE to work and I don't mind most of the time but there are days where I've been at work since 8:00, I want to go Spin or run but then I realize Ian needs a bath, I've been away from him for 8+ hours and I'm tired.

Guilt is something I can't shake. I love this post because you've effectively communicated the day to day struggles that many moms internally deal with. They may not seem that big but they can be. Let it out!

Way to go mama! You're doing great.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Great job MOM! I'm not a Mom, but can relate to the lack of adult conversation. I work from home, solo, I train mostly solo, I eat and rest. My hubby is my best friend and my social life, I guess. I need to work on my social life, but I'm loving life.

I am EXACTLY like you with the junk in the house. Yes, when the hubs shops, especially if he's hungry, I will most likely be putting on several lbs. (& yes, he too, is thin - life if NOT fair)

Kurlanska Family said...

Great post!

There is no better thank you in the parenting world than hearing your child spontaneously say "I love you mom" for the 1st time (or anytime thereafter!). It'll melt you right down to your toes!

Ange said...

this is so right on...
Great job to You too!! It IS tough and yet the most rewarding thing in the world.

John said...

the baby is so cute..

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Heather said...

Don't hold your pee! "They" say women end up with bladder control issues from pregnancy and childbirth, but really, it is because we put everyone else's needs first and don't pee frequently enough. So go hit the toilet- then laugh freely!

PJ said...

I used to have a cat with three legs (and thus only three paws). Her name was Tipsy. Tee hee.

Maybe your neighbors have a thing for handicapped felines?

Tea said...

Probably the first time I've ever left you a comment, but I died laughing. Why? My boys are 17 and 15, and all of this is still true--even the poop, stomach flu's aren't much fun when the kid weighs 190 lbs. I went to the store in my capri stretchy running pants and marathon t-shirt, bed head flowing out of the top of my visor....the same look that I gave a thumbs up to minutes earlier in the bathroom mirror, only to be asked at the grocery store "Oh, you already got your run in?"

So much for being a tri-hawtie.

Tribrit said...

Again, first time comment but I loved this - you totally summed up all the insane stuff we do as mothers and how it puts our triathlon accomplishments in the shade. I know what you mean about the need to have adult conversations, I started out on the tri road using cycle training as a "legitimate reason to be away from my children". Your writing is excellent, very funny and spot on!

wonderwoman said...

Just found your blog via bodies in motivation. I am a runner, wife & mom to a 3.7 yr old boy and your site is amazingly honest & hilariously sadly true to every aspect of being a parent. I am an at-home parent and holy cheeseballs it is the hardest job I have ever had, especially the holding your pee part (why give up 3 seconds to pee when i could spend that on the computer or taking a sip of warm coffee for once in a blue moon)....anyway, loving on your blog for motivation to keep running when/if baby dos comes around adn also, your site has me laughing about things in my life I previously wanted to weep about (nursing in hot cars, poop storms & again, the peeing.) Thank you!