I went for a run yesterday. A year ago, that would be no more out of the ordinary than drinking my morning cup of coffee or having a glass of wine with dinner. Things have changed. I entered the track hoping that the two sports bras I had used to strap down my enormous milk-laden boobs would hold and that I could finish a workout without leaking through my shirt. When I was getting dressed I had to change t-shirts three times because my baggy CREW NECK t-shirts showed too much cleavage. My throat was scratchy because my adorable daughter has given me her cold... which is not surprising considering that several times a day I use a plastic tube to literally suck the mucus out of her tiny little nose. My hair was conditioned with a healthy dose of spit up and vitamin D drop drool, so it was slightly crunchy when I pulled it into my requisite ponytail. Yes, things have changed.
Still, I was so happy to be on the track, and when an upbeat some came onto my iPod I felt like I had a little extra spring in my step. Enough extra juice to pass the 20-something guy with big muscles and a backward Penn State cap. I'm sure he was hung over. I'm sure he was resting between sprints, had just eaten a large breakfast, and ran a marathon the night before. I'm sure he thought I looked like I was 100 years old. I still felt proud and spry and like a little piece of the old me was back again. "Win won for the moms," I thought.
And then I was hit by an overwhelming wave of emotion. For the first time in my life, I categorized myself as a mom. For the rest of my life I will categorize myself that way. What an incredible blessing that is. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't care that much about my speed, or my rock-hard boobs, or the fact that my stomach feels a lot like a Jell-O pudding cup. It didn't matter that then Penn Stater would pass me five times before I finished my 4 miles, that I would need to take walking breaks, or that I would only have an hour of freedom before rushing back to feed my little girl. It didn't even matter that the guy on the track probably thought of me as an "older" woman, even though I still feel like I'm barely out of college. I was a mom, and a little girl at home would be happy to see me, even if she couldn't tell me that yet. She showed it every time she stared at my face like it was the most fascinating thing she'd ever seen, every time she buried her face in my shoulder, every time she trusted me enough to fall asleep on my stomach.
When I was pregnant I worried about what my body would look like after pregnancy. I worried that I would miss my freedom and the routine that my husband and I had gotten into. I worried about a lot of things that just don't seem to matter that much anymore. Sure, I'd love for baby and I to be able to get out of the house and go for long walks (and the polar temperatures and massive amounts of snow we've had this winter aren't helping any). Of course I miss picking out clothes based on what is cute and trendy vs. what is washable and provides easy access to my boobs. But mostly now I worry about my daughter. I worry about making the most of the time we have together and how to spend every second possible with her. I worry about being a good mother and what exactly that means. I worry about setting a good example for her, because someday she might just be the "older woman" on the track with a little baby at home, and even if she's a little slower, a little sleepier, and a little heavier than she once was, I'll still think she's completely perfect.