Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Let me say this right up front - I adore my kids. Anyone who knows me knows they are my biggest joy in life. I look at them now, at 13 and 15 years old, and my heart swells with pride and awe for the amazing young men they're becoming.
But this wasn’t always the case.
Among the many unspoken expectations placed on women in our society is the expectation that we will cherish every moment we spend with our children 24/7; that we'll masterfully orchestrate Pinterest birthday parties and magical trips to Disney Land and wake up at all hours singing soft lullabies and dancing our sweet wee bits back to a peaceful slumber when they awaken us for the third time every night.
I call BS.
I started running at the age of 40, when my boys were very energetic (and noisy) 7 and 9-year-olds. Yes, fitness and health were a big motivator, and a worsening back issue got me moving as well. But the number one reason I stared running was to get away from my kids.
There! I said it! Call the mom police. Take me away and lock me up! And while I’m on a roll, let me throw this out there –
I’ve never EVER made a craft I saw on Pinterest.
Holy Smokes it feels good to get that off my chest!
And now, if you haven’t stopped reading out of disgust yet, let me explain.
It’s OK! to want time away from our kids, whether running, shopping, yoga-ing or bar hopping. Time away from our kids allows us to fill our own cup, so we can better fill theirs, and everyone has heard how important that is.
For me, running serves this purpose beautifully, as it gives me quiet time with myself and my thoughts so I can come back more present with my kids. And on particularly trying days, it allows me to burn off the crazy, so it doesn't spill over into my time with them. (Or it spills over less, I should say.)
Another incredibly valuable skill running has given me is the ability to persevere through discomfort and, perhaps even more importantly, through MONOTONY.
A long run is peaceful, yes, but it can also become incredibly monotonous.
Know what else can be monotonous?
It’s true, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
So learning the strength of mind to continue on through our long runs when we want to quit? That’s a priceless skill to have while listening to a detailed description of MineCraft for the ten millionth time, or when making mac ‘n cheese for the sixteenth meal in a row because it’s the only thing our four-year-old will eat. Because quitting mid-run is an option.
But quitting mid-motherhood is not
It’s important for women to have a tribe
We all need people we can be real with, and women have a special gift for lifting each other up. Having a tribe, where we're free to give and receive support and not be ashamed to admit when we aren’t in love with mom-ing or woman-ing in general, is a true blessing.
I created @GritChicks (on Instagram) and @GritChicks (on Facebook) as an online community for women, moms or not, to come together to support and inspire each other to break through the crazy BS limitations society places on us, and that we also place on ourselves as women.
I designed GritChicks Retreats to be a place where women can get away for a few days to silence the noise and get back to ourselves - Back to who we were before we became “Abby’s Mom” or “Mike’s wife” or “Sr. Vice President of Acquisitions.” I purposely strive to keep GritChicks retreats as basic and affordable as possible, because I know that most moms wouldn’t dream of spending the typical $3000+ for a retreat.
Because, let’s face it, the very last person moms are willing to spend money on is ourselves.
Ever go to the store to buy yourself a new outfit and come home with six new shirts, two sweatshirts, a jacket, new shoes and a bag of chocolates, ALL for your KIDS? (And no new outfit for yourself)
(Ok maybe the chocolates are for me.) Shhh...
Women’s communities, whether online or face-to-face, are golden. These communities allow us to drop the BS and just be real with each other… and that’s a game changer for all of us.
Because together we truly are unstoppable.