I’m not looking for sympathy or to be a martyr mommy, mind you. I know the work is par for the course. I do however, expect a modicum of help such as hanging up the chlorine- scented laundry to dry so it doesn’t produce material that requires a skull and cross bones warning. Usually the kids comply with that one; otherwise, I’m on my own.
I live for summer. I relish the quiet, the heat, and the one dropoff and pickup I have to make at camp. Eventually, briefly, I no longer have to run in circles. I wait for this season, I yearn for it and yet as an adult, summer always seems to slip through my fingertips. Summer used to feel like a long and bountiful picnic feast, when I was a kid. Now, it feels like a drive-thru meal. As soon as I get all my summer ducks in a row, the school packet is in my mailbox, and I already feel winter’s noose around my neck.
This summer, my daughter made a request that initially made my heart sink. She didn’t want anything expensive, like a shiny new electronic gadget, or iPhone. She didn’t say, “Mom, I’ve decided my goal in life is to become a Justin Bieber roadie and ride around the country in a van with a mattress and a guy with really cool tattooes and his name is…. VooDoo.” Nor was she demanding, moody, or even whiny with her request. In fact, I should revel in the fact that she likes me, she really likes me and more importantly, she wants to include me in her aspirations.
“Mom, I really want to run a 5K. Will you do it with me?”
In my brain, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, NO, NO, NO!” Double, NOOOOO.”
“Of course, but we need to go slow.” I respond.
A big hug ensues, and I’m left wondering how I am going to pull this one off. Now, to the avid runner enthusiast, this may seem like a no brainer; a 5K is not so hard. However, to someone who has endured three decades of injuries to the same knee, the thought of running 3.1 miles all at the same time is rather daunting. In fact, it strikes panic in my heart because due to cortisone shots, and lots of physical therapy over the years, I have managed to get my arthritic patella to a point where I don’t feel pain on a regular basis. I can only imagine what running will do to reverse all my hard work.
My knee usually sounds like a bowl of rice krispies at any given moment. If they handed out prizes for the loudest crack from a bodily joint, I’m a blue ribbon winner. In fact, my knee predicts the weather better than the average weatherman does. Now there’s a career…”And over to you Rachel, does your knee tells us if we need an umbrella today?” “Well Ryan, I’ve got a lot of aching this morning, and a few more pops and cracks than usual which usually signifies overhead thunderstorms.”
Nevertheless, moments like these are rare, and like summer, they are over much too soon. We have been training 2-3 days a week following a slow and steady running plan that intersperses running and walking. I do a lot of prep for this mind you. I take Motrin, put a lot of icy hot on my knee and cover it with a brace, and then ice it when I get home. It aches a bit, and I keep reminding my daughter that while I would like to reach the end goal with her, she may have to get to the promised- land without me. I know it’s not what she wants, and while running is not my favorite form of exercise, it’s not what I want either.
So, I’m back literally and figuratively running in circles, except the difference now is, I’m not alone because I’ve got my baby beside me.