Okay, so most of you know by now that my mother was a runner. I am sure she is still a runner wherever she is right now because I would only imagine a place where pure happiness outranks any other emotion. Thanks to her, I am now a runner. And as fate would have it, my daughter appears to be exploring the same road.
As I encouraged my daughter to do her first fun run with me a few months ago, I reflected back to when my mother “encouraged” me to run similar races. Unfortunately, at that time, I considered running to be a form of torture (quite a different feeling now). My mom, being as competitive as she was, may have pushed me too hard. My memory is vague, but I don’t recall being ecstatic about finishing a race. I also wasn’t at all interested in just running around the block for fun. On top of that, I DREADED those mile runs we had to do in school for P.E. Oh my gosh. I was totally the one at the back of the pack walking as much as I possibly could until I was yelled at and told to “pick up the pace.” Yep, your typical non-athletic school girl who was way more interested in reading books (and of course calling boys and hanging up when they answered).
In the athletic domain, my mother was the perfect example, yet I chose not to follow (at least not right away). However, we now live in a society where children are becoming obese at an alarming rate and kids spend more time in front of the t.v. playing videos games or watching meaningless cartoons. I guess after giving birth to my first child, I realized that I needed to set a good example and I would go beyond my parents to include the idea that smoking is not good for your and greasy or processed foods shouldn’t be served every night for dinner (sorry for that jab, but some things are just obviously unhealthy).
So, here I am, working hard to be a healthy mom for my kids. I have to try even harder than most people because I want to ensure that I live longer than my mother did. I want my kids to be healthy and be encouraged to do the activities that they enjoy. Part of a job of a parent is allowing children to try out different activities and dismiss the ones that they do not enjoy. When I first introduced my daughter to running, I wanted her to like it. Obviously, I enjoy running so I naturally assumed that she would. However, after reflecting on my own childhood experiences, I realized that this may not be the case. I had to open myself up to the idea that my daughter might not want to run.
I guess I can say that so far I am lucky. I try not to be a pushy mom coach, but it does happen sometimes. I have that strong sense of competitiveness that I sometimes need to push deep down inside until it is appropriate for me to bring it out. I don’t want to be one of those moms who expect way too much and end up pushing their children over the edge. However, there is nothing wrong with high expectations as long as you know the limits and are always thinking in the best interest of your children.
So, I encouraged my daughter to run and she ran. Then, she took it upon herself to request more opportunities to run. Naturally, I was thrilled and began signing her up for more races. Actually, she just completed one on her own this past weekend. She ran it without me and recorded her best time since she started running. Well, that just tells me that this is all her. She has become her own motivator. I was just there to get the gears in motion… now she can move her legs and fly. Maybe she will continue in this direction or maybe she will choose a different path, but my job, as mom, is to just let her go in whichever direction she chooses.