Those who stop by here regularly likely know that I’m an avid runner. It’s been a part of my regimen since I was probably seven. I think what started it was my sister telling me I should be a runner because runners have small butts. But whatever the reason, it stuck and now nearing fifty, it has helped keep me relatively healthy and mentally stable.
One thing I learned from running was the value of pacing myself. I remember one particular track meet my freshman year of college where this point was very well illustrated. We were running the 1500 meter on an indoor track which adds up to about 7 1/2 laps. When the gun went off one runner from a visiting school just took off at full speed. I mean the rest of us looked at each other and were like, “He knows it’s a mile right?” By the end of the first lap he was sailing off well in front of the pack. By the fourth lap, he was on the infield holding his hamstring screaming in agony.
I pictured that guy this morning as I was making school lunches. If you think of each year like a mile of a marathon, I’m on mile five. And let me tell you, some days I think I may have come out of the gate a bit too fast because I’m already suckin’ wind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the run and for the most part the pace feels pretty good. But man, every once in a while I get a parenting cramp.
As divorced dads, we all pat ourselves on the back from time to time. We make dinners, do laundry, help a kid through a school project, coach a soccer game, make it to every recital, have good heart to heart talks, drive kids all over kingdom come for school events and
playdates, make dinners, do laundry; wait I lost myself for a second. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. “GO DAD!” Parents know it’s a lot. And some days just getting the kids to school on time feels like a victory lap is in order. But know this; it’s a long, freaking, run.
If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know those first few miles you’re like, “This is EASY! Not sure what all the fuss was about!” Then at mile 21 you’re on the curb puking your guts out while your left calf muscle keeps involuntarily flexing. That’s parenting. Every mile the breathing becomes more labored. The hills get steeper. The sun beats down a little harder. And your legs get a little heavier.
So pace yourself. Stop at every gatorade station you can find. And hell, walk a few hundred yards from time to time if you need to. It’s OK if your pace fluctuates from mile to mile. Not every lunch has to include all five food groups. Not every breakfast has to be eggs, sausage, toast and juice. Sometimes a pop-tart is OK. Trust me, they’ll live even if every once in a while their socks don’t match.