Almost every email or phone call or conversation I have these days begins with an apology. ‘I’m so sorry not to have done this earlier’. Or: ‘So sorry not to have been in touch for ages, things have been unusually busy lately’. In fact, lately I’ve actually started to ditch the ‘unusually’. Because it isn’t unusual for things to be busy for us. It’s the norm.
It’s not just the regular stuff that fills our days. You know: keeping us all fed and watered; getting Sissyboo to school and to after-school activities; doing her reading and homework; getting Boo to nursery; and getting me to and through work. It’s all the appointments (we’re still averaging 3-4 a week, sometimes more). Then there’s the stuff that needs to be done post appointments, letters to read, reports to sign off on, equipment to source and information to pass on to other people involved in Boo’s care. And then there’s the therapies… Each day we try to include 2 physio sessions, standing frame time (30-60 minutes a day, building up to 2 hours) and speech and language work. There’s not much time for anything else. And because I often work in the evenings and because Boo’s sleep leaves a lot to be desired, I consider lucky if I get to watch one 30 minute comedy on DVD before bed. I rarely switch off.
Of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had in many of our daily activities, and I quite like being busy, but sometimes, it feels like a bit of a treadmill that I can’t get off because it’s moving so fast and I’ll be flung off the end if my legs stop moving and really do myself a mischief.
My solution to all this: add something else to the list.
Barmy? Me? Never!
Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that running is one of the sanest things I can do.
I started running in the summer 2012, when Boo was a few months old and a few weeks out of hospital. Somehow, I went from being chronically unfit, overweight, sleep deprived, breastfeeding and stressed out to someone who in March 2013 ran a half marathon in 2 hours 11 minutes. It was a minor miracle I crossed the finish line. The onset of Boo’s epilepsy, his medication induced insomnia and repeated hospitalisations and my development of severe depression and panic attacks screwed up my training as well as my mind, but somehow I did it.
My legs and lungs didn’t carry me to the finish line, though. I know that. It was my head. My determination not to give up and to earn every penny in sponsorship I could to start giving something back to Bliss who had done so much to help us following Boo’s premature birth was what got me through it. And it was a great feeling. You can read about my half marathon experience here.
But then I got a bad leg injury. And then I went back to work, which is good for the ever-strained family money box but terrible for my health, I have discovered. Once again, I am sleep deprived, a bit depressed, overweight etc. etc. Why? Because we have too much to do. Because life if hard sometimes and always hectic. Because I don’t get enough sleep. Because I don’t always eat well.
My solution? To enter another half marathon in my home town.
It’s not until September, but I will need every week between now and then to regain my fitness, especially as the last half I did was on a flat course and I live in a very hilly part of the country. But I need and want to do this.
If you met me you wouldn’t think I’m a runner. I sure as heck don’t look like one. But running has become a strangely important part of my life, post-Boo, not just as a thing I do, but a sort of mindset I inhabit.
I need some me-time badly, but find it hard to grasp. And this is a way of me getting guilt-free me-time, where I am doing something for me that I can feel OK about because it’s also for others (and where I can’t check emails or make lists or do some tidying at the same time). Because my running body is something I can use to give something back. Last year was just a start. I want to raise lots of money for some of the many organisations who have helped us since Boo’s birth. Lots and lots of it. My ultimate goal is to be able to do a full marathon in 2015 or 2016, although even I don’t quite believe I can do that yet.
And as much as I want to show how much I appreciate these organisations, I also want to show through my running how much I appreciate my kids. Life is not easy for either of the Boos, no matter how much I try to make it so. They both struggle, in different ways, with the bombshell that was Boo’s prematurity and the cerebral palsy that resulted. And yet we expect them to carry on, one step in front of the other towards the future. Everyday, I push Boo in physio or other therapies, distracting him when he’s tired or bored so we can eek out a few more minutes of practice that might make all the difference one day. He never gives up. Neither does his sister give up for herself or for her little brother. I have two wonderfully happy and determined children. If I had only an ounce of their guts, I could eat 26 odd miles for breakfast.
I must admit that training hasn’t got off to the best start. Boo was very ill from January 1st and I didn’t start running until the 10th. Since then, I have only managed five 2.5-3 mile (most 3 mile) runs. But it’s a start. And I already feel better for it. For 30 minutes to myself where I can think about what I want to rather than working my way down a to-do list. 30 minutes where I can push myself to reach my goals, rather than trying to push Boo gently towards achieving his potential. 30 minutes where I can show my kids that Mummy tries to be as determined as they are.
30 minutes where, despite the fury of my racing heart and aching limbs, I can actually relax and get off the treadmill.