I've spent the last few days watching my kids chafing their dream, literally. Hours on the sand and in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina, my two kids have built sand castles, collected sea shells (and a few pistachio shells), learned to jump over waves and ride them to the shore, and swallowed lots of sea water. They've also developed chafing sand burns on their arms and legs, not realizing it until they hit the stinging bath water after a day of pure, pure joy.
While they've been busy being kids, I've been standing sentinel on the edge of the shallow sand shelf, sharing in their discoveries and rescuing them when needed. It's been painful and a sacrifice, but a sacrifice I decided to make.
On our first day at the beach, after standing barefoot in the sand for an hour, I felt the pain creeping back in my feet. My husband and I swapped guard duty a few times so I could rest, but each time I stood in the water playing with my kids, the time it took for the pain to return shortened.
I also started to let the pain effect my mood. I wanted to do it all. I wanted to be a healthy runner and a good mom. I wanted the Chicago Marathon to be a new PR. I wanted to catch every moment of my kids ocean discoveries. When it became obvious that reality wasn't going to live up to my desires, I became frustrated, critical of myself, and ultimately sad.
Last year my family moved from Portland to the midwest, far away from any coast. My kids, although they remember playing in the sand on the Oregon Coast, recently called the Meramec River near our new home "the ocean". My kids cannot grow up thinking this is the ocean, even for one day! They've spent time in both the Pacific and Atlantic, but were too young to remember and too young to really play in the waves.
During one of my many breaks, sitting in a beach chair under a blue and white striped umbrella, watching my husband and kids laughing and playing in the water, I decided something had to be sacrificed. And although I'm a big supporter of the argument that moms need to take care of themselves in order to take care of their children, I decided to sacrifice my runner-self. Running definitely keeps me happy and sane, not to mention healthy, but in this case my greatest happiness was going to come from enjoying my children and my family. If I missed out on them, I knew I wouldn't forgive myself later. And besides, sharing joy with them is for me, too.
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