Put Down the Stroller

I was a runner before I was a mom. I loved to go outside, rarely wore a watch or headphones, and ran a 6 mile loop every day. This kept me sane through college and in shape to chase around 5 kids under the age of 5 as a part time nanny working my way through school. in order to work my way through school. Once I got married I ran daily;, to stay in shape and keep the energy flowing through my veins. I have always loved it running. So, what happens when you are a mom and you have more to care about than just your own well- being?

My husband and I had a plan: , Get married young, travel, and work and play for 5 years and before getting then get pregnant. Within 3 months, our plan quickly changed. Instead, we had a 4 year old on our 5th anniversaryOur plan 3 months into marriage quickly changed to having a 4 year old on our 5 year anniversary as we had a surprise pregnancy. We were both excited and extremely scared. I was only 22 years old and had zero clue what I was doing. I have always kept stress at bay with running so what did I do when I found out I was pregnant? I ran.  I panicked a bit, but hey I have never backed down from the challenges life has given me so I embraced that babe and was excited about my new pregnancy.

This excitement soon turned sour when I realized how tired I was in my pregnancy. I was exhausted and would fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I would fall asleep in my college classes and barely made it through my part time job. Running became harder and harder for me. The extra weight of the baby on my bladder made me have to pee all the time. My breasts became enormous ( those of you who know me can’t believe this I know) but there wasn’t a sports bra or ten that would make it comfortable to run. I gained a ton of weight – . 50 pounds to be exact. Running was impossible. I had the easiest pregnancy ever so I feel bad even complaining about it, but I hated it. It felt like my worst PMS Day that would never go away wouldn’t end and I just didn’t know my body at all. My cute little energy filled body had turned into a bloated baby mobile. I began dreaming of running. Putting my sweet baby in a stroller and effortlessly jogging around the block in a sports bra, smiling at all my neighbors as my baby giggled in the stroller. I dreamt about it every night. I would imagine it on the elliptical as Ia slogged through the motion just so my back would stop hurting. I kept to that vision through months of woman saying to me “wow you look big for only 6 months” or “please don’t give birth on that elliptical”. One day my dream was so vivid I talked my hubby into researching the best jog strollers around. Remember,15 years ago this was difficult as they were not nearly as fancy as they are now, and were extremely expensive. We had no money but I needed hope that I would someday get back to normal. We scrounged up enough money to make the big purchase, then brought it home for me to stare at while I waited for the arrival of my babe.

Once the baby arrived everything changed. I left the hospital with a beautiful sweet baby boy that is now one of the love’s  of my life. He was my everything. My sole purpose quickly became to cater to his every need. His sleep patterns, eating patterns, everything consumed my every thought. The dream of wearing a sports bra while pushing a brand new baby in a jog stroller turned into a fear of hurting his precious little body. I didn’t even think about wearing a sport bra as I still looked 5 months pregnant and didn’t want to be in regular clothes yet, let alone a sports bra. The stroller sat there. And sat there. And sat there. I held him, talked to him, slept with him and he became the most important being in my life. I ignored my husband and although very appreciative of him and his offers to help, my body now belonged solely to this baby. Until I woke up.

About 3 months in I became extremely depressed. Breast feeding was going horribly and I could not for the life of me figure out how these woman around me could master it and I couldn’t. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. My clothes didn’t fit and at 22 I felt as if I would never feel sexy again. My life had gone from independent college girl to a milk making factory. My friends were all out having fun and I was home with a crying baby. What had I done? I had no idea what I was doing and I couldn’t believe they let me bring this little baby home without any instructions. I was a kid myself! How was I going to raise this child to be a real adult? On the outside I appeared strong and on the inside I was so scared. When my husband left for work I would cry.  Then one day, as I sat on the floor crying I glanced up at the stroller that had been sitting in the corner of our apartment for months and months. It was time. Sam was old enough. It was finally time to get out there and get back in shape. I stood up. Grabbed the babe and buckled him in the seat. What was I going to wear? None of my old running clothes were even close to being able to fit me yet. I grabbed a pair of maternity pajama shorts and a t shirt and pushed that stroller out the door. Today was going to be that amazing day I had been dreaming about all through my pregnancy. I was going to fly and feel like myself again! I would finally be smiling and happy again!

I pushed the stroller out the door and was quickly greeted with , reality hit quickly. The stroller was heavy. Pushing it was extremely hard and I was in horrible running shape. I had to walk so much of that run you that I really couldn’t call it running. The sweat poured down me so much that I looked like I had been swimming in my clothes, and the baby screamed while milk poured out of my breasts. I felt incredibly guilty that I had this beautiful, healthy baby boy that I loved so much but I just wanted ME back. I wanted my body back and I wanted that care- free feeling of running 6 miles a day in the sun without stress. I felt like a horrible mother that I wanted time away from my baby. That night my husband came home and I cried in his arms and told him I hated the stroller. He calmly said, “honey I will take the babe in the morning before work, go for a run early, by yourself”. I immediately freaked out. What if the baby needed to eat? What if he cried the whole time for my husband? What if he needed me? Luke said calmly assured me, “It’s one hour honey, he’ll be fine”. The next morning I set my alarm for 4:30AM am. It was extremely hard to get up that first day, but I did it. I have continued to run almost every morning for 15 years since that day.

Was that run hard? Yes. Extremely. I was out of shape and I missed my baby. Each day however it became a little easier. And each day I became more and more myself. It was then I realized I hated that stroller. It wasn’t the stroller itself, it was that I missed my alone time. I missed hearing nothing and being able to think. I missed the feeling of being in shape and feeling as if I could conquer whatever life threw in my direction. Being a mom is one of the most important jobs in the world. It is impossible to do it well if you lose yourself in the job. Too many moms lose their own identity. I did. I was Sam’s mom and Luke’s wife. I lost Maria.

As mothers, we need this time. This alone time. Let’s work together to bring each other up and help one another! Take your friend’s kids so they can go shopping by themselves or go sit and read a book somewhere. Take some time to yourself to think about things other than your child. Do it for you. You will be a better, happier mother and wife, and by your actions you will teach your children the importance of self- preservation. There is nothing better we can do for our children than to show them how to take care of themselves.

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