I remember being around eight, which means my sister was just past two. Our house was on the long edge of a racetrack-shaped subdivision: the loop. Man-O-War, to be exact, just like the racehorse. And every morning my mother would run this loop a dozen times or more.
My sister and I would sit in the bay window seat overlooking the shadeless street and wave as Mom passed – around, around, around.
Before my own children came along, I used to wonder how she justified the risk. Surely she had as many fears as beads of sweat:
What if they aren’t at the window this time?
What if they burn the house down?
What if they need me?
Now that I’m a mother racing on my own loops of daily life, I understand that there is another fear. The one that pushed her to run faster than those simple thoughts:
What might happen to me if I don’t claim this small time?
All of us have constraints on our time and energy, and children are some of the most precious yet also most demanding of these. But Mom’s actions taught me that she was (and still is) more than a mom – she’s a runner. Her running time was important to her, just as the greater amounts of time she spent with us later.
Like many writers, I have a “day job.” I love it – I teach writing and literature to high school students. I also have a “night job” that I love even more – wife to one and mother to two. My students, colleagues, friends, and family are my life. Writing is how I make sense of it all.
If my children grow up anything like me, they will have dreams. Big, complicated, demanding dreams that come alive and grow over anything not moving fast enough. I hope to show them how to balance what they have and what they want, the way my mother showed me.
So I take time to listen to them, play with them, snuggle their small soft bodies, and read them plenty of magical stories. But then I tell them to go play. To use their own imagination and each other’s company. And to let Momma write.
Where should I send it?
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