If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I saw myself doing in the future, arguing for 23 minutes with a toddler about appropriate places to poop would have been fairly low on the list (which, by the way, the bathtub, Momma’s bed and the dairy aisle at the grocery store all equal Not Appropriate for any of you toddlers out there reading this).
Winning the Pulitzer Prize, divorcing Orlando Bloom so I could marry Ryan Reynolds, sailing on a fancy boat with a clever name like Ship For Brains; all of these answers would have probably come tumbling out of my mouth (No, YOU were a delusional 25-year-old!).
Even jail wouldn’t have been too outlandish an answer (No, YOU have issues with authority!).
But running on a trail with actual running shoes when nothing was chasing me and/or I wasn’t trying to make it to the liquor store before it closes? That wouldn’t have even made it ON the list.
Running for fun? Pffft. In my book, those two things are mutually exclusive. Much like, say, a delicious vegan meal or a funny Kevin James movie.
And yet, here I am, sweaty and gross and begrudgingly emitting an aura of health because I just got done with a run. A run I did ON PURPOSE.
It all started because after I had my second baby my body was 80 percent mush. And, to be honest, I’m not really comfortable in my own skin when I’m above 75 percent bodily mush. So, as much as I hated it, I gritted my teeth and ran (well, did a weird walk/sad jog hybrid before working my way up to my current level of just a sad jog).
But then a funny thing happened. I started to look forward to these runs. So much so, in fact, that I was actually willing to do them at 6 a.m., watching the sun rise while my perky ponytail swished back and forth like I’m goddamn Kate Hudson in some rom-com. Not because I started to like to run. Oh god, no. It’s the worst. But because that 45 minutes hoofing it around the park gave me an escape from my kids.
I love my kids. Of course I do. You know I do. Just like I know you love your kids. Children are amazing human beings we occasionally want to murder.
And so that we don’t murder them, we do insane things like literally run away from home (albeit temporarily).
The best part is that even though my main motivation while running is that at some point I will stop running, all this exercise is helping me get back to myself. To the person I was before I considered a trip to Target by myself as a luxurious vacation.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the demands of parenthood. To remember that you are not just a glorified sippy cup re-filler and breathing boob milk dispenser. Having children changes you to your very core but it doesn’t erase your former self. That person is still in there, waiting to come out occasionally so they can look around and say “why the hell are we running?”
Running helps me remember that I’m a complex person with interests outside achieving the perfect brown color on a grilled cheese sandwich. And on the other end of the spectrum, although I have yet to feel that mythical runner’s high, I have experienced what I call “cranial radio static.” This is when your brain just stops and there’s no thought; just music and pavement and your feet going one in front of the other and heavy breathing and chaotic jiggly butt movement. And as a mom and a writer and a woman who keeps up with the news in 2016, anything that helps you turn off your brain even for a short while is a miracle.
But most importantly, now that I have kids, I want to be healthy enough that I live forever. I want to be the unbelieveably old lady with the leather face that says wildly inappropriate things at Christmas about losing her virginity and terrifies her infant great-grandchildren because she looks like the Crypt Keeper and sounds like Marge Simpsons’ sisters. But she don’t care. Cause she lived through both 9/11 and the Kardashians.