Triathlon. N. – An athletic contest comprising of three consecutive events, usually swimming, bicycling, and distance running.
A women’s track-and-field competition comprising of the 100 meter dash, high jump and shot put.
British. A competition comprising of fly-casting, horseback-riding, and trapshooting events.
BASICALLY 3 CONSECUTIVE PHYSICAL EVENTS.
Motherhood. N. – The state of being a mother; it is challenging to define.
BASICALLY AN INFINITE NUMBER OF CONSECTIVE PHYSICAL EVENTS THAT NEVER END.
Like most mothers over 40, I can’t say that it’s ever easy to find time to take care of myself, let alone find time to “train” for a triathlon. Well, as it was a personal goal (or more accurately a fantasy) to participate in a triathlon (or more accurately finish a triathlon), I decided I needed to trick myself into getting in the physical and mental shape that would allow me to take a big, fat, red marker and check this one off my list.
So while I began to flip my perception of dreaded exercise on its ear by turning bike riding into “Being Green”, and running into “Walking the Dogs” and swimming into “Keeping an Eye on the Kids”, I found that mentally I was more prepared than I thought I’d be. I realized that Motherhood demands the execution of different challenges (many more that 3) every day.
First, mothers are almost always ready to “Just do it”. How many times have you had to get up and make breakfasts, feed the dogs, drive the kids to school and then get to work even though you had little to no sleep because you were either A) feeding the new baby, B) sick with the flu C) getting your period or D) enjoying the only quiet time you ever get even though it was 3am? Mothers always have to just keep going no matter what they are feeling, no matter how their body hurts. That is like a triathlon. It’s rare that mothers ever give themselves a break and listen to the voice inside yelling “Stop.” They are more apt to listen to the voice outside yelling “MoMMMMMMMMM??????!!!!!!”
Second, mothers are forced to wear many different hats throughout the day. They start dawning their chef hat at, well, dawn to prepare breakfasts and lunch, then they change to their drivers cap for carpool, then run a brush through their “Need root touch up desperately” hair before plopping on the work hat, then switch back to the drivers cap for afternoon pick up, then the baseball hat (and deodorant) for assistant coaching, then the chef hat again, then the kids “Go to bed I mean it” hat, the housekeeper hat then the sexy wife hat, which can sometimes be confused with the housekeeper hat if the hot French maid thing works for you and your husband. Triathlons are like that…you wear different hats. A swim cap, bike helmet, and visor.
Lastly, mothers seem to be inherently capable of more that you might expect. They can carry a baby, a stroller, a back pack full of diapers, snacks , toys, bottles and extra clothes, up and down the subway stairs, in and out of a car trunk, all while wearing a business suit with heels as they rush to daycare before the workday starts. Mothers make salt dough for the science project and soft dough for pizza night dinner, vacuum, do the laundry, while hosting a sleep over and still keep on ticking. They can talk about feelings, they can swallow their feelings, they can laugh, cry, give love, and hugs, fix up bruised knees and bruise anyone who hurts their family. They keep pushing themselves until it all gets done. Triathlons are like that. Push yourself to the end. Only triathlons DO end and motherhood never ends. And guess what? I’m grateful for that. Being a mom is the most blessed gift the world has to offer. Being my daughter’s mom is the greatest thing I’ll ever do, but who knew all those mothering years could ready me for a physical feat like a triathlon.
So, while I’m not saying you can just roll off your potato chip eating, Oprah watching couch and swim ½ a mile in the ocean, bicycle 18 miles then run 4 miles to the finish line, I am reminding all us moms that we are capable of big things. And you may be more ready than you even know, to reach your dream, if you want it and if you choose it. I chose to want to do this. I’m not exactly sure why or why now. Probably because I’m turning 45 this year and instead of buying a convertible Ferrari, I thought I’d push myself to where I’ve never gone before (and probably won’t be able to when I’m 80). Hell, if I can still drive, I’ll buy a sports car then. I didn’t have a trainer, I just had a goal. And determination. Determination that was heightened by my experience as a mother. So, this Sunday September 13th, I’ll be competing in my first triathlon, and I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn, driving, hoping coffee gets me going, jumping into the race, pushing myself through the sweat and the pain, breathing hard, feeling like I won’t make it to the end and somehow crossing the finish line, and all that before 10am.
On Monday, I’ll be up at the crack of dawn, driving to school and work, hoping coffee gets me going, jumping into the day, pushing myself through all the obligations, sometimes breathing hard and sweating, feeling that I might not make it and I’ll keep doing that ‘til the little one is tucked into bed at, oh, 9pm. Hmmm? Which one sounds harder?! Congratulations out there to all moms for all their work every day. Wish me luck.
And please help Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with a donation of any amount. Visit www.teamhatcher.org.