Tag Archives: parenthood

Excuses, excuses

“I really like your blog,” my mum told me the other day.

Followed closely by a tentative:

“Although there’s not a lot of running in it, is there?”

Well, no actually. I suppose there isn’t.

But you see, I haven’t yet got my evenings back, because the baby still thinks it’s great to stay up late, and I’m really quite tired what with the night wakings, and I don’t have lots of childcare help during the days, and it’s been quite hot recently, and I’ve had a bit of a cough, and…

OK. Enough.

A friend recently said to me that if you really want something, you’ll find a way, and if you really don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

Which I think is pretty much the truth and has given me a bit of a kick up the arse.

Because when it comes to next year’s marathon, I really really want it. Not that you’d know, because I’ve been making a fair few excuses recently.

I didn’t realise I was making excuses. I thought they were reasons. And pretty valid reasons at that.

But they’re not. And here’s why.

Because I knew I would have very little time to train when I signed up. Just like I knew I’d be tired, and I knew summer was approaching, and I knew – what with a two-year-old who goes to nursery once a week – illnesses would be frequent in our house.

But I signed up to run 26.2 miles regardless. And this time, that means signing up to the whole time-poor, tired package too.

I’ve just started reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running*. In it, he reveals he adopted the mantra, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional,” to see him through his many marathons.

I now know marathon training as a mother will be many things: painful, tiring, tough. It will require more dedication than I have ever had to apply to anything before. But by embracing this fact, it means it doesn’t have to be awful.

So. The first two goals? Upping my training days during the week and a half decent 10K time by September.

No. More. Excuses.

trainers

*I have two children and very little me-time. In two years I will probably still only be on chapter three.

 

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Mini breaks vs mini adventures

My husband has recently returned from a long weekend away. Kayaking. In the Norwegian Fjords. With a spot of wild camping thrown in for good measure. A few years back, this is exactly the sort of adventure we would have gone on together.

Bastard.

OK, OK, it was a stag do, so I wouldn’t have been on the invite list even if we hadn’t had young children. But still. Norway, people. I feel I have the right to be a little pissed off by his 63.5-hour break away. Not that I was clock-watching.

And OK, despite the fact I upped the guilt factor for my husband (obviously), I actually had a bloody good weekend as well. The little ones were (for the most part) on great form, and the weather was beautiful, so we had a lot of time outside – in the garden, at the park and chasing around the woods. Plus we had a night at Nanny and Papa’s house, so we all felt thoroughly well looked after, and I even managed to get an hour to myself to go for a much-needed run.

With Papa

Grandparents. What would we do without them?

But the whole ‘weekend away from the children’ thing got me thinking. Could I? I’m not sure I could. Not just yet. Not while they’re so small.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no saint. There are countless times during the week that I practically have one foot out the door to make a run for it, usually in the middle of a “don’t want that Mummy” mealtime, or after a loooong morning followed by nap refusal, or when I’ve trodden on one too many pieces of Lego that day. There are many times each week I have to stand on the other side of the door to my toddler and slowly count to ten. Many times when I wish I could simply pack a bag and take my own 63.5-hour holiday.

But then I look at them. And I remember that, for the first time in my life, I am completely and utterly needed. That I don’t spend all my time nurturing and caring and clothing and feeding and cuddling and rocking them just for fun. It’s vital.

And all this without even taking into account the fact that, for the first time, I have a bottle-refusing baby. And that, when presented with said bottle (be it filled with expressed milk or formula), she reacts as if I have just offered her battery acid, and only calms down once more when I shove a boob back in her mouth, to reassure her that, in fact, all is still right with the world.

So no, I can’t simply pop out for 63.5 hours.

Mind you, while my husband sits in an office Monday to Friday, right now I get to spend my days having lots of mini adventures with my little ones. And watching my toddler balance along a fallen tree for the first time – and seeing the look of sheer joy and pride on his face – beats a mini break any day.

Balancing

Sharing his daily adventures. How lucky am I?

So I guess it’s 50/50.

Obviously though, I still had to force a smile through gritted teeth when my husband showed me the photos from his weekend away.

His weekend

Jealous? Me? *Sobs quietly*

Like I said. Bastard.

Leaving the house with small children: a beginner’s guide

In the past week, due to a toddler with a sickness bug, a husband who’s had to work late and a baby who insists on feeding all evening, I’ve only managed to head out for one run. It’s made me realise what a mammoth task training for a marathon while caring for a very young family is going to be. Still, one thing consoles me. However tough it’s going to be, it won’t be nearly as hard as my almost daily task of trying to make the 5ft journey from the house to the car with said young family.

Unfamiliar with having to get out the door with an entourage of mini people? Here’s how it works.

10am: Inform toddler that it will be time to leave the house in five minutes. Ask toddler if he needs a wee.

10.01am: Watch as toddler breaks down into tantrum of epic proportions, because he does not want to leave the house. Ever, Mummy.

10.05am: Try to placate toddler by telling him we’re going to the park and he will have fun.

10.06am: Dodge the Lego train the toddler hurls.

10.07am: Sit down with flailing toddler and explain we don’t throw things in this house.

10.10am: Bribe toddler with a cookie.

10.11am: Wonder why I didn’t bribe toddler with a cookie ten minutes ago.

10.12am: Find toddler’s shoes. Ask toddler if he needs a wee.

10.13am: Baby starts crying. Realise it would be wise to feed her, to avoid the car journey from hell.

10.14am: Feed baby. Toddler asks to watch Peppa Pig. Tell him he can watch just one episode.

10.29am: Three episodes of Peppa Pig later, everyone is ready.

10.30am: Turn Peppa Pig off. Give toddler another cookie. Get toddler’s shoes on. Ask toddler if he needs a wee.

10.32am: Hear the baby fill her nappy. Head upstairs to change nappy.

10.33am: Realise it’s explosive. Change baby’s entire outfit.

10.42am: Get back downstairs with baby. Spy toddler’s shoes at the bottom of stairs. Toddler has vanished.

10.43am: Locate toddler. Ask him if he needs a wee.

10.45am: Get both baby and toddler in their car seats. Get in the car. Start the engine. Toddler announces he needs a wee.

10.46am: Turn off engine. Race out of car with toddler and back into the house. Locate potty. Sit toddler on potty. Console myself that at least that distant crying I can hear isn’t my child.

10.47am: Realise that distant crying I can hear is my child. It’s my other child. The one who is now outraged at having been left in the car.

10.48am: Get toddler back in his car seat. Get back in car. Toddler announces he needs his tractor. NOW Mummy!

10.49am: Slowly lower head to the steering wheel and silently weep for those bygone days when all I had to do was grab my keys, grab my bag and then LEAVE THE F*CKING HOUSE.

10.50am: Go back inside. Locate tractor.

10.51am: It’s the wrong tractor.

10.52am: Lose the will to live.

10.53am: Go back inside. Locate every tractor the toddler owns.

10.56am: Present toddler with eight tractors.

10.57am: Get back in car. Turn the engine on. Reverse out of driveway.

10.58am: Congratulate self on leaving the house in less than one hour.

11.01am: Realise I’ve forgotten the changing bag. Turn car around.

Yes. Running a marathon will definitely be easier than this.

Car

Getting a toddler into a car seat: harder than running 26.2 miles.

On Father’s Day

Back in 2009, before we had even contemplated the adventure that is parenthood, my husband and I went on a different adventure: a month campervanning around New Zealand. While there, we ticked a few obligatory activities off the list: bungee jumping [check]; horse riding [check]; single-track mountain biking [check]; sky diving [him, not me. You will never catch me in a plane that tiny]; and white water rafting. I was really looking forward to this last one. My mum had done it. How hardcore could it be?

I had no idea about grades.

My mum has rafted a Grade 3 river (intermediate: still impressive, mum). Ours was Grade 5.

A quick Wikipedia search has since provided me with the following information:

“Grade 5: extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk… swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts.”

Excellent.

On top of this, due to adverse weather the previous week, they’d cancelled all trips as the river was deemed too dangerous.

At the time, I was not armed with this information. It didn’t take long for the nerves to kick in, mind. When even the guides (who navigate the river day in, day out) look excited, you get a pretty good idea it’s not going to be smooth sailing.

The experience was exhilarating terrifying. There were three rapid sections. And we only did two of them in the raft. Yes: we capsized.

Rafting 1

Oh, this? This was nothing…

rafting 2

…because then this happened.

rafting 3

And finally this. This was not supposed to happen.

As I got sucked under the water and dragged along the river bed, I felt strangely calm. It was only when I eventually surfaced, amidst swells of white water, trying desperately to catch a breath, that I began to panic.

And then, like a mirage, the rescue boat appeared in front of me. A girl grabbed my life jacket as I spluttered for air. I was too shocked to follow her instructions as she tried to get me onto the boat. This rescue was not going particularly well.

And then I heard a familiar voice.

“I’ve got her”.

My husband. He’d already been pulled from the water, and now he had hold of my life jacket. And at that moment, I completely relaxed, despite still being in the river; despite the fact I was still coughing up water. Because I knew something: I knew he wouldn’t let me go.

Where am I going with this tale? I guess my point is that, while the types of adventures we’re now having are very different (these days, it’s more, “Can we get the toddler to the potty in time?” rather than, “Is this river raftable?”), one thing hasn’t changed.

On those days when I’m floundering; even when I’ve already sunk below a tide of congealed Weetabix splatters and meal refusals and nappies and tantrums and baby sick, I know something.

I know my husband will walk back in and rescue us. And I know he won’t let us go.

 

 

“Mummy’s got balls”

I’ve spent so much time telling myself “I can’t”… that I forgot to try.

But this weekend, for the first time in a long time, I ran for 30 minutes. With no walk breaks. Four years ago, this would have been nothing. Today, it is everything.

This was an accidental development. I’d planned a couple of walk breaks during the half-hour outing, but for the first time since my humble comeback, I got caught up in the actual running and forgot to check my watch. By the time I’d made it off the roads and into the woods; by the time I’d escaped the cars and the concrete; by the time I was immersed in dirt tracks and tree roots and green leaves, I’d been running for 12 minutes. I’d missed the first walk break. I was about to stop and then a thought struck me… perhaps I could do this. I kept running. I missed the second walk break. I ran up a couple of pretty steep hills. Still no walk break. My timer hit 30:00:01. This was a big deal.

I’m stronger than I thought.

Woods

Lost in the woods. Not literally.

I was ecstatic when I arrived home… although I didn’t have a huge amount of time to revel in my achievement: the toddler was excitedly wielding a toy hammer and was having a crack at “fixing” everything in sight. Including the baby.

I dragged him into the bathroom with me, so my husband could have a bit of bonding time with the baby, and he pottered around banging the bathroom cupboard and sink, while I showered. And then he looked up at me and yelled:

“Mummy’s got balls!”

Er, WHAT?

I questioned him quickly, before he yelled it again and freaked the hell out of his father.

“Look, there [pointing at my chest]! Where baby’s milk comes from. Balls.”

Aah.

I’ve been worrying a little (OK, a lot) recently about the fact I’ve signed up to run the Brighton Marathon in ten months. I’m nowhere near the fitness level I’d like to be, I have two children to look after, there are a fair few sleepless nights (and, I fear, a lot more still to come), and I just don’t have the time I used to have to dedicate to marathon training (the last one was in 2011. Pre kids). But yesterday made me relax about the whole marathon thing. I’ll be fine.

 

I can run for half an hour. I’m stronger than I think. And I have balls.