A few weeks ago, I headed out for a weekend run. It was a damp, spring day that was slow to warm up. I was tired, but I knew how important it was to spend time by myself in the quiet solitude of the outdoors after a long week of mothering. Okay, I guess it wasn’t that quiet because I was running in the city. And I wasn’t quite by myself as Luna was with me. Alas, running is the time where I can reconnect with myself after I spend most of my week caring for my infant daughter. The line between self, mother, and other, child, often gets blurred in these early months of infancy.
I was shuffling down the street giving myself a pep talk that the first mile is always the hardest. I was heading to the large park across the river where I can let Luna run free. It is where I pretend we are running on a trail, in the woods, far away from the bustling Chicago streets and airplanes lining up to land at O’Hare. I was deciding where my route would take me that afternoon, when the sidewalk did a funny thing. It jumped up and grabbed me. Okay, maybe not, but that is what it felt like when I went skidding across the cement. In yoga class, I will make the cheesy metaphor that falling out of yoga poses and trying again is something that can translate into everyday life: work situations, personal goals, and relationships. Personally, I am always falling out of poses and trying again so I feel like this can ring true with my students on and off the mat. However, that afternoon, it just so happened that I was also literally falling in my everyday life.
I quickly assessed my damage. Road rash on my right leg. Right hand and elbow bleeding. Left hand fine, thanks to Luna’s leash. My ribs hurt and the wind was knocked out of me. I did the obligatory joint check. Ankles: check. Knees: check. Hips: Check. Elbow and wrists: Check. Breathing: . . . My eyes were brimming with tears, so I closed them and struggled to take a few deep yoga breaths. The yoga mat is much softer than the pavement. I was shaken and embarrassed, but luckily no one had seen me. I asked myself: Do I drag my tired body back home and nurse my wounds? Do I continue running and nurse my ego?
I looked over to Luna, who was sitting anxiously awaiting a rebuke. However, this time it was not her fault. People sometimes ask how I trained a such high energy dog to behave in an urban environment. I reply: it is the running, the walking, and the fetching. A tired dog is a good dog. Luna needed this run to be a good dog just as much I needed this run to be a good mother. So, I stood up. I kept running. I was hurting, but nothing that needed immediate attention. I slowly ran a shorter route. I quieted my ego that always wants me to run faster and further.
What I really want more than anything is to be a good mother to my daughter. I want to show her that it is okay to fall but you need to be able to stand up after you are down. It is okay to be tired, hurting, and sad, but you can also keep moving forward while feeling all those things. Resiliency is something I want her to embody and learn young. It is a skill I want her to hold close as she grows up in a world that will inevitably jump up like the sidewalk and knock her down. She is going to face more hardships than just falling during a regular weekend run. It is in the little moments that I want to teach by example.
I owe it to my mother and all the strong women who came before her. Thank you for picking me up when I was hurting, kissing my skinned knees, then putting me back on my bike. Thank you for falling off your skis, your horse, or just your own two feet and getting back up again. Thank you for teaching by example. Thank you for allowing me to join the long lineage of mothers and resilient daughters. I hope I won’t let you down.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who are tired and falling, but are getting up again and never stop loving, loving, loving.
Love and light,
Kristin (and the good dog, Luna)