I ran a 50K on Mother’s Day weekend. Yep. 31 miles. As crazy and whacked out as it may sound, for me, the run was a celebration of sorts. It was a distinct recognition of how far I have come, and I’ve covered plenty of ground, (pun intended) since I miscarried my IVF twins at some point mid-January of 2007.
I honestly don’t remember Mother’s Day 2007. I’m guessing I was numb with grief; it is, at least, one way to explain my complete lack of memory. Ditto 2008, 2009, and 2010. Finally last year, 2011, I wrested control of Mother’s Day and began redefining the emotionally charged “Holiday” in my own terms and on my own terms.
Last year I chose to celebrate the day by going for a solo bike ride, declining Mother’s Day Brunch with My Guy’s mother and sister (and her husband and children), in favor of going it alone with the desire to tune in to what I was feeling and to truly mother myself. I was in the midst of planning another solo ride when I realized the 50K I had signed up for was the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I doubted I would be in any shape to ride on Sunday (good call!). I also realized, due to post-run travel logistics, I would be attending Mother’s Day Brunch. Sigh.
Dan Baker, author of What Happy People Know, points out, the fear of not having enough and the fear of not being enough are at the root of the people, events, or emotions we resist. Reading this concept flashed an understanding in my brain, because admittedly, it is these fears which have showed up for me around Mother’s Day. I’ve taken it personally that I am not a recognized member of the exclusive Mother’s Day Club since I do not have living, breathing children. Hence, underneath my angst about this “Holiday” has lurked the idea that I don’t have enough (children), that I am not enough (a mother).
I decided, then and there, to dedicate the 50K run to my unborn children, Sophia Grace and Noah James, whose stay in my body had been brief, and who slipped out in a pool of blood. None-the-less, in those short weeks, I was a mother, cradling them as carefully as I could in my womb, envisioning their complete arrival, planning our life together. Had everything gone as planned we (my now ex and I) would be celebrating our children’s fifth year on the planet this year.
There is something auspicious about the number five; it is one of those dynamic, energetic numbers begging to be celebrated like the 5th birthday, the 10th birthday, the 40th birthday, the 45th birthday, and so on, it functions as a great mile marker in life. Five years ago I would not have been able to run a 50K (noticing nice multiples of five). My body was still sorting out the after-effects of infertility treatments and grief. A 5K, let alone five miles, was a stretch at that point. Leap ahead five years, and there I was, mid-January, actively training for a 50K. Who would have thunk?! Not I. Not then.
I’ve also stumbled across the idea of sufficiency. Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, presents sufficiency in the context of how an individual may feel about his/her financial situation, however, her description of sufficiency could easily be applied to nearly any context of life, and it especially rang true for me as I wangled with the underlying fears of not having enough, not being enough.
Here is Lynne Twist’s explanation of sufficiency:
It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.
Sufficiency is an act of generating, distinguishing, making known to ourselves the power and presence of our existing resources, and our inner resources.
When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete.
My run became a benediction (perhaps it was the endorphin high) of what currently is my life right now. Mile after mile my appreciation expanded. While I am technically not a mother by society’s standard definition, I claim what is mine, the moments that were, and that is enough. And while my greatest sorrow is still the fact I was not able to bring children into this world, this great sadness also opened up an entirely new realm of possibilities for me.
Truly, I am still amazed to find myself in the midst of a radically different life than the one I planned. There is a deep knowing in my bones I would not be running 50Ks if my marriage and dream of having children would have worked out; the person I was in my marriage, and the man I was married to, would not have made running a priority.
In some weird way, the loss of my babies (and my marriage), inadvertently gave me the greatest Mother’s Day gift: a strong and healthy Body, Mind and Spirit. It was from this place of appreciation and sufficiency that I ran my 50K. As I crossed the finish line I gathered a bouquet of Mother’s Day roses, five fundamental attributes I hold for myself: perfect as I am; sufficient in what I have; naturally creative in being and thinking; resourceful in my abilities, and a committment to being whole.
I am complete. It is my wish for you.