Lifestyle

5 Things I Learned About Motherhood While Running the Wasatch Back

Article written for and published on Deseret Digital Media

This June I ran my third Wasatch Back, my seventh Ragnar Relay. I trained for several months knowing the difficulty of each of my three assigned legs.

My first run of the race was seven miles down the back of Avon Pass. The road was dirt, and there were loose rocks, potholes and gravel, making it even more difficult to traverse.

As I ran down the steep hill, I had to pay close attention to where I was placing my next step so I didn't twist an ankle or go flying to the ground. Parts of the hill were quite treacherous and made me especially nervous. As I made my way down that very steep hill, at one point I took a second to look up.

What I found was breathtaking.

The view was gorgeous. There were green rolling hills down in a valley spotted with houses and farms. I could see for miles. My attention was soon needed back on the dirt hill I was running down, but I realized something in that brief moment.

Motherhood is often just like that steep hill. It is treacherous, it is fast and it is extremely difficult. However, sometimes, you need to take a moment and look up. You need to enjoy the vistas before you and appreciate that there is something amazing to see.

Here are five ways you can remember to look up when Motherhood becomes arduous.

1. Find the humor: The bowl of Cheerios that was just dumped on the kitchen floor five minutes after you mopped may be frustrating, but the toddler who did it is probably more than a little cute. Laugh at the moment, you will always be able to mop the floor again.

2. Find the beauty: Just like the gorgous vistas I saw during the race, there are gorgeous moments in motherhood. Watching your children play together or spending some quiet time with your child can be breathtaking. Take a moment to enjoy their hugs and snuggles, even if it means putting off mopping the floor.

3. Enjoy the moment: The moment when I looked up while I was running down the hill was a quick glimpse, but something I can still picture in my mind. When you find a moment like that in motherhood, enjoy every second. Then, when you are having a bad day, you have a glimpse of the good times always in your mind to draw on.

4. Remember that this too shall pass: There is no doubt that motherhood is gruelling in its requirements. While it seems to be never-ending, you will soon find yourself saying goodbye to your children and sending them out into the world. Whatever struggle you are currently having will eventually pass. If you forget to look up, you may miss out on some amazing moments in the midst of your adversity.

5. Take a break: For me, running is my break away from motherhood. It is time alone and time to just be me. Every mother needs those breaks, those moments away to remember who she is and what she loves about life. Don't forget to take a break and when you find yourself knee-deep in laundry, it won't seem so overwhelming.

The next time you find yourself traversing the dirt hill of motherhood and find it riddled with rocks and potholes, don't forget to look up. There might be something worth seeing.

Sound

Article written for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

The keyboard under my fingers feels foreign, yet familiar. I’ve neglected this part of my life for far too long, the yearning to come back to center is great.

I’m ignoring my children, allowing them to feed themselves, though I check in from time to time. Often people ask how I have time for my extracurriculars and the last few months the answer has been, “I don’t.”

But I must. I need to. It’s who I am.

Little Man sings a song he made up just now while his sister reprimands him for being too loud. A sibling-imposed restriction.

The clang of dishes, the rattle of chairs. I can picture the scene, though I have removed myself from it.

Other children join in with Little Man’s made-up song, adding lyrics of their own. I love that they sing. Though I have neglected teaching any of them piano, they still have my love for music. My penchant for belting out a song at any moment. Something I learned from my mother.

A drawer opens, a utensil retrieved.

“Mom, can I have more chips?”

“Not until you eat your burrito!” I cry. Hoping they will actually adhere to my rule, though I don’t care enough to wander in and enforce it.

Water running, dishwasher opening.

“Mom, are there any more tortillas?”

A door opens and shuts. It is time for my husband and Miss E to arrive home for the night.

Rustling of papers. Clapping. Beating a rhythm on the table with a fork.

Mine is not a house with much quiet time. Noise abounds, big and small. The sounds of my home are familiar, welcome.

Loud.

Sometimes uninvited.

Sometimes too much for any sane human being to handle.

More dishes moving around. Humming and singing. Admonitions to sit and be still from siblings and spouse.

I know they are rocking on their chairs. They always do. I hear chair legs bang against the floor and holler a warning to be careful, though I know they won’t. It is a warning that falls on deaf ears now.

I know they are nearing the end of dinner and as much as I don’t want to tear myself away from the computer, I know my presence will be required soon. Needed.

I hear my son’s voice, deeper every day, telling his father something of import. He bangs on the wall as he wanders back into the den.

“Dad, can I measure myself?” One of the littles requests.

I fear what that means. I must drag myself away.

Away from role of observer and into the role of Mom, forever present.

PB & J

Essay written for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

Lunch.

1 Grilled Cheese
3 Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly
1 Grilled Nutella

I’m not a short-order cook, but I’m willing to acquiesce to minor recommendations by the small people that seem to run my life.

Dinner.

“Miss E! Use your fingers! DON’T use your fingers. I meant don’t!!”

A chorus cries out with laughter and mocking. “Haha! Mom said to eat with your fingers Miss E!” Grins all around.

I’m outnumbered.

I sigh and watch her adorable little face smirk at me while continuing to eat her peas with her fingers.

“What? You said to eat with my fingers.” She laughs.

Bedtime.

I wipe down countertops smeared with breakfastlunchdinner. I holler at small people to return to their beds for the one millionth time. But only succeed after a band-aid is applied to the miniscule sleep-preventing scratch on the smallest of hands.

My teenagers are badgering me for cereal at this late hour. A treat I cave to on occasion because there is so much joy in it.

They squeal, as only teenagers can, and pour heaping bowls of cereal to feed their growing bodies, or at least that seems to be their justification. Their attempt at cleverly tricking their mother. I am on to them.

I go to wipe the table down, absently running a hand through my hair. I discover a sticky substance now clinging to my tired locks. Peanut butter. I’m not sure how it got there or when the transfer happened. I could have been prancing across my life with peanut butter in my hair all day.

Finally. Grownup bedtime.

I snuggle down into my bed, exhausted and wait for the steady stream of teenagers coming to tell me goodnight. They linger. We talk. They are fun, amazing humans, but I eventually scoot each one off to bed.

Sleep.

On Letting Go

Essay Written for relationship website, The Guild of Unbound Women. 

I sat on the floor of the closet sipping a second glass of wine, covered in nearly every item of clothing I owned. It was one of the first weekends alone and seemed like a good time to unpack my newly acquired space.

At first, all was calm and organized, but as wine flowed and the music got louder, I got angrier.

I started throwing pants and shirts at the wall. They no longer fit me anyway, I'd gained a few pounds. So many hours spent as a married woman, working my ass off to look just right for him. Ex wife. Ex life.

I screamed profanities, hurled words and feelings at the pile of clothes like a tornado on a warpath. Tears streamed as I allowed myself to feel all the pent up anger and frustrations I'd been pushing down for months. I'd been told all my marriage that I was too uptight. Too emotional. I should just "chill".

But now, that marriage gone, I could let it all go.

So many years I'd kept the screams in. Now, I could let them out. I could say what I wanted to say. Scream what I wanted to scream.

And so, I did.

As quickly as the anger arrived, it dissipated. Left me with heavy sadness. The sorrow was overwhelming. I sobbed and started putting it all back together, hanging the wardrobe back up, talking to no one, not caring that if someone were to walk in on me in that moment, I would look completely insane.

I told myself everything. About the guilt of calling it quits. Admitted my fears that I'd never survive as a single mom, couldn't do it without him.

I cried about what the divorce would do to my kids.

Felt the loss.

Let the grief come.

And just when I thought it would consume me, I remembered everything I had already accomplished by myself. With so little help from him.

I remembered my strength and called bullshit on the guilt.

The anger and sadness ebbed and flowed. Hit me in waves as I worked and drank. Face streaked with mascara, I wiped snot on my arm like a small child.

Eventually, I collapsed into an exhausted heap and slept like a baby--or--like my ex slept as I'd tended to our babies all those years.

I woke the next morning exhausted from my emotional outburst but feeling lighter.

I'd said all the things I'd never allowed myself to say out loud. It didn't matter that I was the only one that heard them.

Since that night nearly a year ago, I've never experienced the same level of anger. No longer having to stifle the small daily anger and frustrations means it doesn't build up and explode.

And I've learned the benefit of letting myself feel all of my feelings. It's painful and healing and cathartic and therapeutic.

I've also learned to let go.

Not to dwell.

To move on.

To create new things to look forward to.

I learned to find value in every experience, in every emotion. It means I get to experience life. I no longer have to do it the right way, or someone else's right way. I can make a mess and clean it up and it's not wrong, because there is no wrong way to live a life.

Anger management is all about balance. Sometimes you have to go for a long run. Call in the girlfriends. Call your mom. Be alone. Write. Weep. Breathe.

And sometimes, you have to get drunk and throw clothes and expletives at the wall.