Activation Energy. Inertia.
sometimes I wish I could remind myself of these concepts. Infuse my brain with remembrance.
I joined the YMCA in January, in hopes that I could go and take the Little Lady, and get my running in during the winter. I bitterly detest the bitter cold, so running outside is not possible for me. But after a couple of attempts at running on the treadmill that were absolutely excruciating, and with five hundred and one things to do (it seems I just move from one "once I get past this event/duedate/task, then I can get back into it..."to another)... I've not been very consistent with it.
Pfft. Let's be honest. I've been downright pitiful at it. Shawn has been ever so patient with paying that fee monthly and us hardly using it. Never in a million years would I have expected to say that I would never be able to use a treadmill again. But yuck. yuck yuck yuck. Running outside and running on a treadmill are sooooo different.
Months ago, I registered for the Color Me Rad 5k in Knoxville that occurred last Saturday. I thought that would be fun to do, with friends and with Shawn, and would motivate me to get the training done and back into running. (I've just had a hard time finding the TIME to run once school started last fall - things are just so much busier with kids in school). But I didn't. I didn't go running to prepare for it ONE time. We got the kids' flag football/cheer schedules and their first game was the same morning of the race. (I didn't think they'd schedule a game during spring break!) Kids trump race that wasn't prepped for. We didn't go.
But running is important to Shawn. Exercise and health is important to Shawn. Running together is important to Shawn - it is a quality time activity that we can do together, in this phase of so very little time we can spend together. He pushed the kids, both of them, in a double stroller last year. They are too big for that now - 42 and 51 pounds. I've wondered how we were going to accomplish this.
Towards the end of last week, he told me that he'd like for us to go running this weekend. Yesterday he told me that he'd like for us to go running after church. I said okay. But on the inside, I wasn't happy about it. Frankly, I really didn't want to. My inside attitude about this stunk. But what was I supposed to say?
So after church, we came home and changed and prepped for the trip to the Greenbelt. Shawn got the stroller ready, air in the tires, and prepped their bikes. His plan was for them to ride their bikes while we ran, since he didn't think he could very well push them this year. I said that was a recipe for disaster. I told him that if he was wanting to get a real workout, we shouldn't take the bikes. If we took the bikes, we needed to have the right mindset. He said he'd take care of that part, so I just let it go.
I held onto my composure by a thread. My attitude, that I tried desperately to hide, was rotten. I'll confess, I even shed a few tears while I drove to the park. It wasn't a stomp my foot, "I'm not getting my way" kind of crying. It was an overwhelmed, exasperated crying.
It seems that lately I just become overwhelmed at trying to be everything that I'm supposed to be. I just don't have enough time!!! TIME! I just don't have enough energy. I just don't have enough mental clarity. We are trying to get the bottom of some of my fatigue issues, but in the mean time, I often feel robbed of my productivity and my life. Some times I can effectively tamp that down and shove it into its nice little hole in my brain and seal it off. Other times, it is just too full and that pressure bursts forth in tears I simply cannot staunch, no matter how hard I fight them. I've never been one prone to crying or manipulative tears, and tears in public are veritable humiliation. But in the last few months, it seems to happen to me at such unpredictable and embarrassing moments and I'm utterly powerless to stop it. Something happens and I'm faced with my feelings of overwhelmdom, and the tears spring forth.
I don't have time to be the wife I'm supposed to be. I don't have time to be the mother I'm supposed to be. I don't have time to be the teacher I'm supposed to be. I don't have time to be the housekeeper I should be. Or the friend or sister/daughter/granddaughter/daughter-in-law/sister-in-law I should be. I don't have time to exercise and keep my body fit like I should... I don't have time to contribute towards causes like I should. I don't have time to be part of our church like I should. I don't have time to read and enrich my brain like I should. I don't have time to do ANYTHING well. It so often feels like I'm failing at everything, all the time. And all I see is how I don't measure up.
This is nothing new. I am not the first with this struggle. I know this struggle will always continue. Battling trying to do all the roles. Weeding out what I can't do. Feeling guilty for all the things I've said 'no' to. Perhaps this is the plight of the stay at home mom. Perhaps it is just the plight of the mom. It doesn't matter, for it is my plight. And I'm growing so weary of it.
But back to today, Sunday, and our family run. Exercising has been one of these struggling roles for me. It is not something I enjoy. I have the urge to create and be creative. I don't have to make myself do those things. But exercise? I must force myself to do that. I do value health. But when I'm trying so very hard to balance all of the roles and demands of me, and exercising has fallen short of the list, I feel so overwhelmed. Because exercising is something my husband values, and I want to do that because he wants me to. But I don't want to do it because I hate it. There are many other things I value more, or feel more urgent. It falls lower on my list, and that tension of difference of opinion with my husband causes me tremendous inner turmoil. I hate conflict, and I hate feeling like I've not met others' expectations.
I am driving to go run because my husband wants us to go. I don't want to, but I am. I don't like running at that time of day. It makes prepping for lunch for everyone difficult. It is hot - the sun is directly over head and I hate running in the sweltering heat. My body doesn't do well and I don't do well mentally when my body is struggling. It is going to be hard, because I've really not run since the end of July. This is going to take up so much of the day and mess up the productivity of the rest of it. I'm not going to do well and I'm going to be so disappointed in myself, which will make me in a worse mood. The kids are going to do horrible with riding their bikes and that will make me angry and it will just be a grand old disaster.
But as soon as we hit the trail, it all changed. Literally, with the first step. I look back and see their happy, smiling helmeted faces on their bikes and my heart smiles in return. It feels good to be moving my legs to that slow, yet running rhythm. I've not run in eight months. Yikes, is it really that long!? I was running five miles in July, and now, nothing. But it was as if my body had forgotten nothing.
We went slower because of the LIttle Lady and the pace she could go on the bike. But I needed that slow pace to run 3 miles. I finished it. I wasn't ready to die. I could have kept going (but thought it wise to stop there for resuming running). I did it. And it felt good.
If only I could remember that. If only the remembrance that every single time I DO go out and run, I feel this way. If only I could overcome the activation energy to do it. Maybe I'd do it more.
This doesn't solve my feeling of overwhelmdom. The same expectations lie in my lap. But I can be joyful about the expectations, or I can let them burden me and cause unstoppable tears.