Running has been the constant in my life since I was 12 years old. Things change, people change, cities change but the solace, strength and peace that I find in running remains. Once my first was born, I suddenly had a new constant: the love for my child. No decision was made without consideration of him. How to reconcile my two constants?
A few weeks after my first was born, a bright yellow jogging stroller showed up at our door. The first time I used it, I was hooked. Pushing my baby boy down the Little Sugar Creek Greenway just south of Uptown Charlotte. Sun shining, Carolina blue skies above and a few puffy white clouds framing the Charlotte skyline. Life could not get better.
The jogging stroller combined my two constants. Not too mention, the multi-tasking productivity of running while pushing a stroller with my kids in it: exercise, time to together, outdoors, exploration and sometimes naps. Running with a jogging stroller had other unintended benefits too: toning my arms, back and abs and increasing my running speed and endurance.
For me, a lot about parenthood has been adapting. Figuring out what’s important, what’s not important and how to maintain who I was and who I am now.
This week, I bumped into an old friend at daycare. I had noticed that for the few last days she had been picking up her daughter in gym clothes, not her work clothes. With enthusiasm, she told me she joined a gym and she’d been going every day. She had cut a deal with her boss to start coming in at 8, so she could leave at 4 to get an hour at the gym before grabbing her precious daughter. Her smile was ear to ear – she knew she was doing something for herself.
Shifting her work schedule was her adaptation. Our adaptation this week, was pushing the kids across an old railway bridge turned pedestrian bridge. Pre-kids, this activity would have looked something like this: leisurely rolled out of bed on Sunday, discuss our options for the morning, comment that we still wanted to check out the Big Four Bridge. Throw on some lazy Sunday clothes. Casually walked out of the house to our car – only grabbing my purse and sunglasses. He would have buckled himself in and I would have buckled myself in. Stop at our local coffee shop, where again, we each only have to unbuckle ourselves to get out of the car. Grab coffee and maybe a scone that we respectfully share like civilized humans. Then off to the bridge for a stroll across the old railroad truss, snapping pictures and chatting.
Instead our reality was: sprung out of bed to a screaming baby. Discuss what we had to do today: I want to run, I want to do something with the kids, I still haven’t seen the Big Four Bridge. Realize we do not have enough time to do all of those things. Decide to combine them and run the bridge with the kids. Throw clothes on ourselves plus 3 other humans (who really have a disdain for clothes), grab diapers, snacks and sippy cups, corral everyone to their carseats. Jam two large jogging strollers into the van. Finally off for our adventure.
50 feet into our run, every extra detail was worth it. The barges pushing up river looked relaxed as they cut through the peaceful morning water.
The symmetry in the architecture of the old railroad bridge was beautiful.
The sun shining in the the morning air.
Pushing strollers up the the ramps at the bases gave us more for our money and we rewarded the boys with a trip to the playground next to the parking lot.
Strollers or not. Adapting or not. Changing our routine by getting in our car to check out a new trail, route or place, added another layer of purpose and inspiration to our run. Whether running, walking, cycling or hitting the gym, I hope these pictures inspire you to find a new course or routine this weekend!