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Before I conceived my now 3-year-old son, I miscarried my first pregnancy. While waiting for the all-clear to start trying again, I picked up running. At first, it was a 30-minute run/walk, then a 20-minute jog, and eventually I built it up to a distance and speed of quality. What kept me pushing through was the thought, “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now.” I can’t control the miscarriage, I can’t control the lack of a baby in nine months and I can’t control the fear for future pregnancies. But here, during this run, I am in control.
After we brought our second child home and the visitors returned to their regularly scheduled programs, I was thrown into life as a stay-at-home mother of two. The house was a perpetual mess, the laundry piled up in corners of respective bedrooms and I could feel myself slipping into a sea of baby blues.
After a particularly rough morning juggling the needs and demands of a toddler and newborn, I decided to maximize my daughter’s morning nap time. I handed my toddler the iPad, put on some feel good tunes and hopped on the treadmill. Again, the thought that got me through a miscarriage came back to me: “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now.” I can’t control the baby’s witching hours, I can’t control the attention-seeking meltdowns by my toddler, I can’t control the lack of sleep we are all suffering from. But right here and right now, this is in my control.
When I finished my measly reintroduction to the running game, I texted my husband and told him I could feel the clouds parting and the frustration melting. The brief 30 minutes I demanded for myself gave me a sense of clarity that is often hard to find within the groundhog days of motherhood. I found I could tolerate the tantrums of my toddler and the shrieks of my infant without spiraling into a dark, powerless hole. This revelation motivated me to get on the treadmill the next day, and the next day and the day after that.
That was nine months, about 180 runs, and approximately 720 miles ago. Every morning before I open the bedroom doors to the day’s dose of chaos, I lace up my running shoes in anticipation of the morning nap. While the beats blare in my ears and my feet find their stride, I tell myself, “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now.” In the words of the great Janet Jackson, “I’m in control.”