April 17, 2015

Running in place

I competed in sports before I was a mother. Naturally, then, I should be one of those active moms who gets up every morning to run with the rising sun (not mentioning any names, Candace). But notice I did not say I was a fitness guru, nor did I say I was a runner. I said I competed in sports. Give me a pair of shin guards and a jersey and I'll run nonstop for an hour, protesting if you try to pull me out of the game to give me a breather. But give me a gym membership, and I hate to say it but I'll probably cringe. It's just not my thing.

Consequently ten years went by and I never moved faster than chasing a toddler across the room. When depression hit in my early 30s, I blamed everything but my lack of exercise, not thinking that a girl who grew up in athletics would probably always need to move. When it finally dawned on me, I made up my mind to break a sweat at least every other day. I figured it was better to die of boredom in a pair of running shoes than drop out of life on account of depression.

Three major barriers: the pollution in our city is rarely under the hazardous mark, bad knees run in my family, and my four kids are never not in my care. Where to run to, when there is no clean air outside? How to run, without jarring my knees? How to break away from my kids? The answer: a miniature hot-pink stair-stepper that I bought for 200 kuai at our local sporting goods store. I can move it around the house, to wherever the kids are playing, even up on the roof if the air happens to clear. It doesn't hurt my joints, and it isn't too boring so long as I have a game of Battleship and a light-saber duel both going on before my eyes.

We moms of young children sometimes feel chained in place. Especially home-school moms, I think, because everything depends on us, and we can't check-out, even for a sec (or we feel like we can't). It gets tiring, and sometimes we wish for a chance to break away, even to run away, if we're honest.

But we can't run away, and we would never actually do that anyway. But we can run in place! We can put a hot-pink stair-stepper in the living room and use muscles we forgot we had, pushing pause on the timer to wipe a butt or pour a drink of juice. 

We can write a novel in our sweatpants while the kids build a pillow fort. 

My advice to young moms? Don't get stagnant. Stir things up a little bit! Stay healthy. Stay YOU. And whatever you do, stay in the game. Don't lose heart. We don't have to feel trapped. We can get our groove on, right where we are. Running in place.