As a runner, I am often asked annoying questions, my least favorite being, “Have you ever had problems with your knees or your back?” I pride myself on the fact that I have been relatively injury-free. This year, though, I feel as though I have been plagued by injuries, not running-related ones, but child-related.
In November, my calf muscle tightened on me. At first, I thought it was a running injury, but I was puzzled as I had never had anything similar. So, I attributed it to more driving this year to schools and after-school activities, on top of all the other driving that comes with the title of Mother. I spent weeks self-massaging and stretching, but nothing seemed to help. Stupidly, I continued to run and in a late-season 10K race, my calf completely locked on me at the 8K marker, forcing me to abandon the race and a few more weeks of running.
I started back again over the Christmas holidays. One day, Number 2 climbed on my lap as I worked at the computer and I suddenly felt that same tightness in my calf. Then, it dawned on me: the tightness came from lifting my heel to support my forty pounder. Now, I have a stool under the computer desk for my feet – for those times when #2 wants to hop on and watch.
Since then, I have been building mileage and been quite proud of how my running through the winter has been going. Last week, though, I faced another setback. On Tuesday night, #2 and I drove to pick up his big brother at choir practice and, sure enough, #2 feel asleep in the car. When we arrived at rehearsal 10 minutes early in the 10 degrees below cold, I had two choices: to sit in the car with the engine running or freeze. Neither of these appealed to me at all so I carried my 40 pound Teddy Bear into the Church to wait for his brother. All chairs were taken – one by dry-cleaning. By the time I was finally able to sit down, I realized that my back was sore. The damage was done. Then, to top it off, #2 woke up on the way back to the car which led to a battle to strap him into his carseat, also resulting in more wear and tear on me. Two days later, I was off to the chiropractor. (Fortunately, this does have a happy ending as I was finally able to lace up my running shoes 9 days and 3 chiropractic visits later.)
All of this has made me realize that being a mother is physically hard work. Forget about the sleepless nights, the house-cleaning, the groceries,and the chores that seemingly go on forever. Ironically, it is the physical need to hold my child and cuddle with him that has caused my grief. He is now a big boy and I must be more careful of those times when he simply can’t keep his eyes open anymore.
This same child, though, who has caused me physical pain (and emotional agony of revising my running goals), has helped the recovery. One day after school, he said to me, “Mommy, at school today, I prayed for your back to get better.” My heart melted – and that didn’t need a cure.