Yesterday I got to realize a parenting daydream 9 years in the making. In January of 2004 I had just finished coaching a high school cross country team, completed my one and only marathon to date, and began the serious “are we having kids now” discussion with my husband. By April I knew I was pregnant with my first beautiful baby.
I knew she was a girl. I would talk to her on runs, which I continued until 1 week before she was born when my doctor told me to stop because I was not helping her rather slow growth rate. I would tell her that we were strong and healthy and that cool girls run. I would tell her what made me nervous about becoming a mom (I hope I know how to love you enough) and what worried me about my body (why are you making my knees hurt so much?) and random things I was thinking about (do you think you’d like your walls to be blue like the sky?).
I would dream of having these conversations for real when she was old enough to run with me. I could picture us taking the laps at our park and heading down the hill back toward our neighborhood. I imagined a time when running together was like story time or bedtime-just something we did. Together. I held (and still do hold) the hope that if we run, maybe we’ll still have something in common when she’s 13 and doesn’t like me anymore.
So yesterday, I ran with my girl. At 8 she is old enough to participate in most 5K events and she was interested in joining me-and getting a medal. We went to the 5K that accompanies the Georgia Marathon so there was a lot going on and plenty to see. We went to the race Expo on Saturday. We rode the train in the dark and walked along the city streets with other runners. We heard the national anthem together and cheered. We watched the wheel chair start and talked about how impressive that is.
In the race itself, people told her how well she was doing and how fast she was. I got to tell her about pacing and form and how to shorten and lengthen her strides with the hills. And we chatted and passed people and jogged, very slowly, the entire 3.1 miles. She’s a rock star. And my heart is full of my daydream come true.