Motherhood is both wonderful and a little bit shit.
It is often both of these during the course of a single day.
It is sometimes both of these within the space of a minute.
Occasionally, both the wonderful and shit bits of motherhood occur simultaneously – cue the baby eating her fish pie beautifully, while the three-year-old rolls around on the floor in a fit of rage because “it’s NOT POTATO-Y!” (It was.)
The wonderful bits make you feel like you are nailing parenting (child eats home-cooked dinner? Check. Child sits happily doing arts and crafts? Check).
The shit bits make you curse the fact you jinxed everything by thinking you were nailing it. (Why? WHY would you even think that??)
The wonderful bits make you feel like Supermum – the telly is off, all the crappy plastic toys are away and you’re about to go for a walk in the woods together. You will probably skip. You might even build a den. Fun!
The shit bits are infuriating to the point of driving you slowly insane…
Me: “Sweetheart, you can’t wear your sandals in the woods – you’ll get stones in your shoes.”
Three-year-old: “I WANT TO WEAR SANDALS.”
Me: “But stones will get in them – it will hurt.”
Three-year-old: “But I WANT them.”
Me: “But your feet will get hurt. Look, let’s put your trainers on.”
Three-year-old: “I WANT my SANDALS and I HATE YOU!”
Me: “OK, wear your sandals.”
Three-year-old [hurling himself to the ground 22 seconds into our woodland walk]: “There’s a stone! A stone in my shoe! I WANNA GO HOME!”
We all have our own ways of dealing with the shit bits of motherhood. I go running. OK, OK, I drink wine. But also, I go running (not while drinking wine).
Because running is alone time.
Running is cathartic.
Running is me and a trail and cool evening air.
Running is empowerment.
Running is that little piece of me before children.
And yes, running can also be aching legs and breathlessness and that painful stitch you just can’t shift (because, you know, sometimes running is a little bit shit, too).
And it’s those days when running is a little bit shit that it hits me: even on the tough days, I always come back to it. I come back to it because I know the wonderful bits outweigh the shit bits.
Running gives me perspective. It gives me the headspace to know that all those wonderful bits of motherhood – the smiles and cuddles and belly laughs; the boy telling me, “I really really really REALLY love you”; the baby’s warm milky breath on my shoulder at night – outweigh all the shit bits.
They outweigh them by a million miles.