The last 2 years have taught me how much I don’t know about things I thought I knew.
One of those things is endurance. In the past I ran ultra marathons, skied loppets, and climbed mountains. In 2015 alone I ran the Trail de Petit Ballon, swam 2kms across a lake in 15 degree water temperatures (no wetsuit!), slept with red ants, trekked the 300km East Coast Trail in 10 days and finished the West Coast Trail in less than 48 hours. I even did Kundalini yoga, for like 5 minutes. Looking at these it might seem like I’m trying to make a big deal of it, but I’m not – it 100% feels like another person did those things now. I’m definitely not any condition to do those things at present. For better or worse, that is absolutely not me anymore.
My point is – I thought I knew what endurance was about.
But then I became a mom.
Flash to present day: it’s 1am in a house full of Covid, a sick toddler, a sick me, puke on my pants and hair, not quite able to see straight, and I’m tired. Tired from a hard and sad year, tired from nighttime waking, tired from transient insomnia. I’ve got an inflamed rotator cuff, my back hurts, and I have neck pain. I’ve taken to seeing a chiropractor and a naturopath, in addition to finding a GP, in a recent wakeup call to the necessity of taking care of myself.
I know all the right things to do now. I know how to settle my nervous system, to release tension, to bring mind and body together. Really, as much as the wellness industry makes it seem like a science, I think everyone knows for themselves (for everyone in the wellness industry, to which I belong, who tells a mom to do better self care, I suggest they be prepared to pick up a broom, make dinner or hold a baby. Otherwise, shhh). What’s different now is that I realise perhaps the issue is that not everyone can. It takes time to take care of oneself. Things that have always worked for me in the past include writing, yoga, meditation, and yes – endurance activities. None of these are particularly toddler friendly – at least not in a way that is nourishing for me. Sure, it’s fun to see Hutch in a downward dog and I love that he copies what he sees Sean and I do, but when my own down dog á la toddler has Hutch pantsing me, well…. I just can’t say the experience is the same as pre-kiddo.
We’ve also hit the age of tantrums. A time which has made me all the more grateful to have the time and space in our lives to move slowly and not rush. It’s also has instilled an even greater gratitude for my wonderful husband and for our neighbour Meg who hangs out with Hutchy one morning a week. We decided against putting Hutchy into daycare/early learning of any sort until he is at least 3 years old. While it can be tough to get respite with 24/7 toddler, I can only imagine what it’s like for families trying to get out the door on time in the morning when the kids really don’t feel like wearing pants. My hat is off to any single parents trying to get a bracing toddler into a car seat when their meeting started 20 minutes ago. So while I might be tired, I have to say it’s wonderful to not often be on strict deadlines, and to have most of our work requiring no or little travel, and I get it – we are very fortunate. It’s a lot different for most people.
Gosh, building a life is really the little things, isn’t it? I could have spent a lifetime prancing around the world enjoying the view from the top of mountains and feeling pretty good about myself. But I’d have known nothing about endurance and what the “long haul” actually is (not saying I know now, just that I know a bit more! Seriously Life, I’m not egging you on here). For me, touring around solo wouldn’t have made me a better person. It was appropriate to that chapter, but I was pretty selfish about my pursuits, loved being in the wilderness, alone, in solitude. Life now is so much more mundane, but so much richer. I feel I have less to write about (well, less time to write it at least), but more life material. As my dear friend Edwin once said “I was happier before kids, but more wholly satisfied after kids”. (I’m generally happier now than I’ve ever been, but when I’m at an unhappy low point I think of that and have to agree).
My fitness isn’t what it once was, and I’m not going to climb a mountain tomorrow, but I’ve got the hardest, most intense trainer I’ve ever had. He’s relentless. He’s got the cutest dimples though, and the best hugs, so I’m keeping him.