Several weeks ago, just when I thought he couldn’t get any more amazing, my husband completed the Chevron Houston Marathon. Months of training in the early (and I mean EARLY) morning hours and most recently in freezing temperatures. He never once complained, always had a smile and a positive attitude about it, and made it look incredibly easy. As a wife of a now marathoner, I have a full appreciation for the energy, strength, and stamina it took for him to achieve such an incredible goal. What I was not prepared for was the same amount of energy, strength, and stamina it took to be a spectator. That was a marathon in itself!
We looked at the route prior to the race and came up with a plan for where we would be to cheer him on. Our stops included miles 2, 7, 9, 16, and 23. My sister-in-law was planning to join me on all the stops except for Mile 2. It was right by our house, and I had decided I could just “run down there really quick” with the kids and then jump in the car and meet up with her. Oh, how I should have known so much better.
I got up with my husband at 4:00am on marathon morning, and after seeing him off, I packed snacks, loaded the stroller, and laid out all the winter gear the children would need for that very cold morning. Thankfully, everyone woke up early, and we were bundled up, loaded up, and heading out to Mile 2 all by about 7:15am! I wasn’t yet sure if the tracking apps were accurate, so once we found parking, I loaded up my little snow bunnies and off we went to cheer for Daddy. Let’s not underestimate what it’s like to load 2 children into a double stroller. On that particular day it meant jackets, hats, blankets, cowbells for cheering, and a balloon tied to the stroller so he could easily find us. Additionally, for M it also meant her beloved Belle doll, her viewfinder, and the accompanying carrying case with more films in it. Of course.
We arrived at Mile 2, found a spot, and waited. We waited and waited and waited. And very quickly everything started to fall apart. “My hat is twisted!” “Belle is falling out!” “My blanket keeps slipping.” “It’s too cold.” “I’m hungry.” “Where’s my viewfinder?” “There is not enough room in the stroller!” “Belle is falling out!” “Where is Daddy?” “My feet are sticking out.” “BELLE IS FALLING OUT!” Meanwhile, little W was just wailing. Wailing and wailing and wailing. The poor guy was turning into an icicle right in front of me. I took off my gloves, gave them to him, and took him out of the stroller. I tried to distract him by drawing his attention to the runners. It didn’t work. I picked him up and was holding him trying to console him, while maintaining the small amount of composure I still had left, when a woman walked up to me.
“Excuse me,” she said. “May I get your names for the picture?”
“WHAT?!” I said. Partly because I couldn’t hear her over my screaming children, and partly because I could not for the life of me imagine what she had just photographed. I couldn’t figure out what gem of a moment she had possibly gotten out of our current Code Red Situation.
It turns out that “the moment” (pictured in today’s blog) she captured landed us right smack in the middle of the Houston Chronicle. My Code Red Situation became a moment for the city of Houston to see. I was so embarrassed! Do you know what I saw in the picture? I saw of course my darling little boy, but I also saw a hat that was (way) too small, my gloves falling off him, and his open mouth that masqueraded as cheering but that was clearly crying to those of us who know him. All of this because his mother had kept him out in the cold for TOO LONG and was clearly in need of new winter gear for her children. In that moment, I saw everything I had not done right.
People went CRAZY over that picture though. They saw a precious moment, a darling little boy, a mommy who was cheering with her son, and a family that was in the very much in the marathon spirt. No one paid any attention to the flaws I couldn’t stop noticing.
It made me realize that motherhood is so often a marathon and a sprint. Most of our days are spent sprinting from one thing to the next, and those front-page moments are hard to find. Those moments live, however, in the marathon part of this journey. The part where things may be messy, they may be tough, but nevertheless we are still running. Slowly and steadily we are plugging along. I guess that’s what I was doing in that moment that the photographer caught on film for all to see. I was running the race, the Motherhood Marathon, and I was living the moment, our moment.
So maybe slow and steady, albeit messy and often emotional, is really where the true reward is. I know I’m going to keep on running as I hold onto that hope.
Find the joy~