Recently, my husband was away on a two-week business trip. I have to say that my house stayed cleaner longer, I had very little laundry, and our grocery bill was reduced dramatically. Yet, oddly enough, my running suffered. Running ended up causing more stress than it relieved.
I typically run three weekday mornings and a “long” run on Sunday morning. Rarely is my six-year old son even awake yet by the time I finish my weekday runs, but my husband is usually here and if I’m late getting back, he wakes our boy up and starts getting him ready for school. So….what do I do when my husband is away?
Treadmill, you say? I tried. I really did. But spring in Maine can be absolutely gorgeous, and after one mile on the treadmill, I knew I couldn’t do it. I just had to do this outside somehow. So on that first Sunday morning that my husband was away, after a mile on the “Dread,” I ran a mile outside then checked on my son, who was thrilled to play on the computer at this time of day. He didn’t care where the heck I was! I continued my next three miles the same way. It was not much fun, but I was happy enough and my boy was ecstatic.
Yet my early morning weekday runs were a different story. I was stressed leaving my house while my son still slept. I wasn’t worried about anyone breaking in or anything like that, but I didn’t want him to wake up alone. We did come up with a plan where if he awoke, he could light up the “Mama signal” (the outside light) and I would come running. During these runs, I was literally running up & down the road, so I was never far. He did use the signal once, and the rest of the mornings he was either asleep the whole time or woke up before I left. But during every single run, I felt guilty. Part of me felt that I needed to keep running for my physical and mental well-being, but the other part felt that I needed to stay home and figure out another way. The stress and guilt I felt was not eliminated by the running but was fueled by it……yet I still did it. What does that say about me?
I discussed this with my husband while he was away, and we both agreed that we have a child that is easy going and doesn’t typically “get into stuff.” In other words, he wouldn’t ever turn on the stove or run down the street because, honestly, he has a lot of fear inside of him. If he gets scared, he will wait outside on the steps for me (which is what he did on the one morning he used the Mama signal). We both knew our boy would be ok while I ran, but….it still wasn’t the best decision we’ve…..no, I’ve… ever made. It was ultimately my decision, and I think I have a lot of guilt about it. I didn’t leave him alone for any major length of time, but 10 or even 20 minutes can feel like a long time to a six-year-old. He probably won’t even remember this next year, but will I?
Katherine Hepburn once said, “I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” I’ve always found Katherine Hepburn to be a very wise woman, so I’m hoping this means that I’m not stupid. I just feel really stupid.
Anyway, after those guilt-ridden, stressful morning runs, I asked my mom to hang out with Bri while I ran last Sunday. This was my first 8-miler since early March, and I wanted it to be a decent one. Knowing that my son was home playing “swords” with Grammie, made it one of the most relaxing and enjoyable runs I’ve ever had.
My husband is now back home. I’ve been on two early morning runs so far this week, and even with the foot pain I’ve been having, they were stress and guilt-free. I’ve always appreciated the support my husband has given me over the past few years as I’ve attempted to become a runner. He always tells me what a great job I’ve done or how super-hero like I am, even if he has no idea how long I was out there or for how far. He thinks it’s amazing that I run at all. But I don’t think I ever knew how good I really had it. So thank you, dear husband. You truly are my greatest cheerleader and support.
Now please pick up your dirty dishes and place them in the sink….or at least near it.