Thursday, April 8, 2010

Don't Wish It Away

Shabbat #14

Guests: Bill and Nancy and their daughter K. Mike and Julie and their daughter E. I run and ride bikes with these folks ... and spared them front row seats to the vomit-palooza that played at the Brown household by rescinding their dinner invitation last week.

Menu: Grilled Lamb Skewers with Chickpea Puree and Mache, Macaroons ... served 2 days later on Easter to rave reviews.

What I Learned:

I consider my running a public service. If I don't do it, I'm not fit to be with. So I run. For your sake. And mine.

When I run I think. In fact, a lot of the time I can't think unless I'm running. Most recently I've been thinking about the blog. Who's coming. What I'm cooking. What I'll write. Even before the guests arrive. I usually end up writing about something completely different. But this week I'll write about what I thought I would write about. While I was running.

I've know the Shabbat #14 crew for almost as long as I've been running. A few years ago Mike and Bill made the transition from pure running to triathlon. And like most endurance-obsessed runners, they started with the mother of all triathlons: Ironman. 2.4 miles of swimming, followed by 112 miles of cycling, topped off by a 26.2 mile marathon. Mike and Bill engaged in this undertaking with a group of similarly-minded men -- no doubt all on the brink of some mid-life crisis. Nancy and I affectionately refer to them as the "boys."

Ironman is like parenting. Once you've done it you can't help but give advice on it. Even if you weren't so good at it yourself. As far as I can tell survival is the only prerequisite to deeming yourself an expert. Just like parenting. But believe me, as a parent (who wants to survive) I'm eating it up so keep it coming. Ideas on toilet training? Frankly, it doesn't really matter much to me whether your kids were raised by wolves. If they're out of diapers, I'm listening.

As a Ironman finisher, I'm no different. So when the "boys" -- one in particular who has since moved to Colorado -- asked me for advice on Ironman, this is what I said:

Don't wish it away.

The months of training will be long. And mundane. And tiring. But be grateful that you are healthy enough to do it. And have friends with screws that are equally loose. Who will ride next to you for hours even though the finish line is nothing more than your parked car and a warm Gatorade. Who never ridicule you when you are dressed in your skin-tight wetsuit. And on those early morning runs before the sun is up, soak in the solitude and the feeling that you are the only one awake. Because you probably are.

On race day. Look up. For a moment take your eyes off the wheel in front of you and count yourself lucky. The day will be hot and painful. And long. But this will make the pay-off even greater. When you cross the line, know that your life will change because you have propelled yourself across 140.6 miles. All by yourself. And, regardless what physical form your body (or that tattoo you had to have) takes, inside you will always be an Ironman.

This has been my approach to parenting.

Don't wish it away.

Adopting this approach got a little easier the second time around. Not that I wished away moments with Ben. I just focused more on what was next, instead of what was now. I figured that if I got to what was next, that necessarily meant that I had survived what was now. And that was a comfort.

It's different with Sarah. I can focus on the now, because I know the next is coming. Fast. When I was pregnant with Sarah I owned my belly in my spandex shorts riding circles around Creve Coeur Lake. Dreaming about the day when she would be riding next to me. When she was born, I cherished the three days alone in the hospital with her. Without the boys. In those wee hours that were neither morning nor night, I rocked my girl. My patient miracle. Who barely needs to be rocked these days. Now I tip-toe into her room while she sleeps, kneel next to the crib and whisper.

If you ever have a problem, come to me. I will help you. Always.

Hoping that these words somehow, by osmosis, will be ironed into her memory, resurfacing at the critical time.

And every morning I tell her she is the Triple Threat -- smart, beautiful and brave. The Trifecta. Because it's true. And I want her to believe its true. Especially when she is 13. And doesn't want to listen to me.

And I look at my almost 40, mother of two with all the signs of childbirth, late nights, worries and doubt ... body. And embrace it. Like I embrace them. Knowing what I am capable of doing. And what I have done.

Yet for all of the similarities between my advice on Ironman and parenting, there is one glaring difference. While the first Ironman may be life changing. The second is just, well, long.

Not so with children.

When I was pregnant with Sarah I confided in Steve. I can't possibily love another person as much as I love Ben. And this is what he told me. Your love is limitless. Don't tell him -- I hate it when this happens -- but he was (shhh) ... right . I love Sarah just as much as I love Ben. For lots of the same reasons. And for lots of reasons that are so uniquely Sarah.

As for a third?

Barring divine intervention (and a whole lot of crazy science) there will not be a third child. A third Ironman? Who knows. But I do like to run.


  1. Great blog Rebecca. You are funny and moving at the same time!-Deirdre
    P.S. this is the first time I've been inspired to respond to a blog. My friend and yours Marie B. sent me the link.

  2. Thanks for reading Deirdre and to Marie for passing the blog along. Sharing weekly meals with friends (old and new) and writing about it has been an amazing experience. One of the unexpected outcomes has been discovering that most of my readers aren't even Jewish, but still relate and follow. This to me is evidence that the benefits of family dinner are truly universal. Thanks for letting me share our experience. Hope you will consider joining our Facebook Group, taking the challenge at your house and sharing your experience with others! Rebeccca