Sunday, July 27, 2014

A different kind of growth spurt

After Miles's bath every night, we put on his lullaby CD* and snuggle for a few minutes before we put him in his crib for the night.  I have a routine: whether he's awake (usually) or asleep, when I hear "Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf" I know cuddle time is over and it's time to put him down. He will fuss for a bit, mostly protesting that we are out of his line of vision, and within minutes [most nights], will be peacefully asleep.  

Tonight, however, was different.  I was holding him as usual, rocking to the lullabies, as his eyes were getting heavy.  His blinks became slower, his eyes opening less and less each time, as the rest of his perfect little face began to relax as well.  His mouth opened in a crooked little yawn, and he melted into my arms, growing heavier with each deepening breath.  He took a few sucks from a phantom bottle (or breast?), falling further into sleep.  

I found myself overcome with love.  I wanted to ball him back up into the tiny little cantaloupe he used to be when he lived inside of me, and tuck him away inside my belly all over again.  I wanted to hold him there forever, "Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf" be damned!, and never, ever, ever let him grow or change any more than he already has. I wept.  

Why do I love him so much when he is asleep?  He is such a busy toddler during the day: always rearranging our apartment (he seems to think that the items from our Recycling bin should be peppered around the apartment rather than gathered together in the bin, for example), eating things he shouldn't (e.g., cat food), or trying to build his expertise as a climber (he is part mountain goat).  These moments are frustrating, to be sure, but I think it's too simple to say that's why.  

Because it's also while he's awake that he gives hugs (so many!), shares all his snacks and toys with us, plays along with our silly jokes (I'm sure my jumping around the corner a million times isn't really that startling or funny, but it always gets a reaction!), and gives us that giggle that makes whatever it is that we were worrying about a moment ago a thing of no consequence.  It's while he's awake that we see him learning new things every day.  It's while he's awake that we see him turning into the new and ever-changing version of himself, that we are fascinated by his growth and development.  So why do I love him so much, lying there, heavy in my arms?  

He isn't doing anything.  

I think that's precisely it.  

He doesn't have to do anything for me to love him.  In fact, even though he does so many adorable, fun, and amazing things every day, those distract me from seeing him. The infant I met 13 months ago had very few of the skills my busy toddler now exhibits, yet I loved him, too.  And when I see that toddler sprawled across my lap, his beautiful dark lashes guarding those green-brown eyes, his mouth in a perfect, tiny little pout, and his button nose punctuating such innocence, such magnificence . . . I also remember the tiny newborn version of him.  We knew nothing about him, and yet, we loved him.  When he sleeps, there is nothing else to distract us from him.  And each time I catch a glimpse of him dozing, his breathing deep and measured, or hear him sigh contentedly in his sleep, my love for him grows.  

I suppose it will (and must) continue to grow, to accommodate bigger challenges as well as bigger triumphs. My love will need to grow so that the first time he decorates the walls with crayon, or gets sent to the principal's office, or gets escorted home by the police, I will be fully equipped to love that version of my sweet son.  It will need to grow so that when he finally learns how to say, "I love you, Mama," or picks a bouquet of "flowers" / weeds from our yard for me, or dedicates his Nobel prize to his father and me, that my heart will be ready to accept all that love.  

And I think that's why, when he sleeps, I feel so much love for him.  
My love, just like his little body as he sleeps, is growing.  

*CDs are what people used before they could put all their music on their computer, phone, or brain chip it's

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chubby Girl, Running (Part II)--I Ran 13.1 Miles and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt

One week ago today, I ran the Big D Half-Marathon.  13.1 miles.  I did that. 

It was cold and rainy (48F and threatening thunderstorms, to be exact), and before the race started, it wasn't even clear if it would go on.  But it did, and so did we.  

Training for a half-marathon is hard.  We trained through winter, and while Texas winters are not as bad as many places, there were still days getting out was just hard.  There were days with ridiculous wind that knocked over the jogging stroller (sans baby, thankfully) that forced our long run inside--135 laps around the indoor track.  There were days that the ground was covered in ice, forcing us again to that indoor track. (It's really not as bad as it seems--pretty good people watching, plus the added benefit of that smug feeling when you've outlasted everyone else at the track).  

When you're training for a distance run, you will likely hear a lot of people say, "Oh, wow.  I could never do that."  I used to be one of those people.  I remember a girl I met in my undergrad who was training for a marathon, who said, "Anyone can run a marathon.  If you can walk, you can do a marathon."  I thought she was nuts.  Surely she didn't mean anyone. There must be concessions for chubby girls whose thighs rub together.  Anyone but them.  

But here I am to tell you sincerely, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. My thighs still rub together--and I ran a half-marathon.  To further illustrate this point: when I first started running with Andy, I started a run/walk program that had me running 20-30 seconds for every 2 minutes of walking.  And after those 20 seconds, I was panting, my heart was pounding, and I felt like I was going to die.  I remember the first time I ran for a full 30 minutes--another rainy day--and I thought I had conquered the world.  Even at that point, if you'd told me I'd run a half-marathon, I would probably think you were nutzo.  

In any case, my 13.1 is still only the SECOND most difficult thing I've done in my life.  Interestingly enough, the FIRST most difficult thing I've done is something that way, way more people do than running a half-marathon.  To further illustrate this point, allow me to present a poorly-made Venn diagram:  

Clearly the payoff is greater in Unmedicated Childbirth, though, the windshield decals for your car are less prevalent.  

So, if you've already had an unmedicated childbirth, you can rest assured that you don't need to assert yourself any further--you have already done the hardest thing.  Unfortunately, if you've already run a half-marathon and are considering unmedicated childbirth . . . well, God speed, my friends.  

In any case, now I am assured that I Can Do Hard Things.  Like running 13.1 miles in the cold rain.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chubby Girl, Running

When Andy and I had been married for less than a year, we got a flier in the mail about Team in Training--a fundraising program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, wherein its participants raise funds while also training for a distance race.  Andy was very excited--I was mildly interested.  So, we went to a meeting at a local restaurant, and got the information.  

From the get-go, Andy was into it.  "Let's do the 100-mile bike ride!  Oooh, or a triathlon!" I, on the other hand, was more reserved.  

Eventually, we decided upon a half-marathon (which was later downgraded further to a 10k, due to a schedule conflict).  The Cowtown 10k, in February of 2010.  Our "training" was spotty at best, and when I started running, I could only muster about 30 seconds of shuffling at a time.  I worked that up, but still, by race day, I was in no way fit to complete the 10k.  (I did, however, run my first full mile--mostly for fear of being stampeded by the runners behind me.)  

This year, we revisited the Cowtown 10k, and THIS YEAR I CONQUERED.  I ran the whole 6.2 miles.  I had my coach by my side, and we crossed the finish line, hand in hand, victorious.  Now, I am still very slow (slow enough, in fact, that my running pace finish time was only about 10 minutes faster than my 2010 run/walk time), but I did it.  We're working on that half-marathon now.  Andy helped me finish 7 miles yesterday, so we're more than halfway!  I can't believe it.  

As I started the Cowtown this year, I was misty-eyed as I thought of those early days running.  I thought of myself, huffing and puffing and thinking I was going to die in my 30-second running intervals.  I thought of myself, volunteering to be goalie in the backyard soccer game, because the goalie didn't have to run as much. 

It's taken a while for me to adjust to the fact that running is something I can do now.  That I can run 3 miles now on just about any day.  That I can run a 10k.  That maybe, just maybe, I actually CAN finish my half-marathon.  

For someone who has had body image issues since finding the balance point on the seesaw on my elementary school playground, running has changed the way I look at my body.  I used to think I was just incapable.  "My body simply cannot do that," I thought.  Turns out I was wrong.  My body can do lots of things.  It may require more of me to get to the point of being able to run 5k, 10k, or 13.1 miles.  Maybe I'll never be fast, or look cool while I'm doing it.  But I can do it.  

I'm still in shock that I successfully completed 7 miles yesterday.  It started from 30 seconds.  Now, I can run for the duration of a romantic comedy! I'm still chubby.  But now I know I can do things.  Hard things.  I wonder how my life would have been different if I'd learned that lesson earlier in life:  that just because you can't immediately do something doesn't mean that you lack the capacity to ever do it, and you should therefore avoid that activity at all costs.