Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the category “Parenting”

The World’s Hardest Job? Maybe, Maybe Not…

As I let my body recover from some nagging injuries, my priorities for the summer have shifted away from triathlons and races and more towards the domestic sphere, so please humor me as I blog a little more about life, and a little less about training for a while.

A while back a little video kept circulating on Facebook, something about people interviewing for “the world’s hardest job.” I never got around to watching the whole thing, (and I’m not a serious enough blogger to do anything that resembles “research”) but I think the gist of it was that being a stay-at-home mom is the toughest job in the world, and its job description would scare off many a would-be applicant.

It’s a funny premise, and I can’t entirely disagree that a description of what I do day after day sounds pretty tedious: Waking up earlier than I want to, cleaning up messes that seem to regenerate themselves instantly, shuttling my child to back and forth to school while fielding endless questions (How long until our sun turns into a supernova? How much cheese can you eat before you have a heart attack? Do elephants have dentists?), doing my best to prepare fresh, healthy meals for two guys who would frankly prefer to eat a platter of fried chicken with a chaser of Oreos every night.

But the bottom line for me is that, no matter how hard the job is, I get to take care of MY family, MY child, every day, and that’s a pretty awesome gift. I’ve got a husband and a son, these two people I love more than anything in the world, and even though I wish they’d tidy up the trail of items they leave strewn about the house, and gain a little better aim in the bathroom, at least the time I spend cleaning up after them is one way I get to be guardian of my little flock, and mistress of my own castle. Which brings me to my next point…

You know what the hardest job in the world is? I don’t think it’s taking care of your own children, or cleaning your own house. You know what’s harder than that? Taking care of someone ELSE’S kids, who’ve been raised with someone else’s rules and philosophies about discipline, diet, etcetera…Being a preschool teacher or day care worker, for example. Or cleaning someone ELSE’S house…That’s gotta be a tough job, right? Cleaning up after strangers, gaining way too much insight into their personal habits and hygiene…and doing it all for minimum wage, then going home after a long day to it all all over again for your own family. If THAT’S not one of the hardest jobs in the world, I don’t know what is.

So I’ll take the cleaning, the driving, the cooking, the kiddo’s tantrums and whining, and everything else that comes with the job while I consider myself pretty darn lucky for being there for the cuddles, the discoveries, and the milestones. It’s not glamorous, it’s certainly not well-paid, but the hardest job in the world? Not even close!

Sadly, he's no more helpful around the house today than he was when this picture was taken.

Sadly, he’s no more helpful around the house today than he was when this picture was taken.

Snow Days

9 days before my upcoming half-marathon, the Portland area got hit with a rare winter storm, which sent the city into its typical winter-weather hysteria. (Snowmagedden! Arctic Blast 2014! Snowpocalypse!)

Aside from some closure-related inconveniences (I missed getting the alert that the kiddo’s school was closing early on Thursday, and happened to be in the dentist’s chair when my husband called to inform me) and a swing shift at the hospital (luckily most people heeded the warning to stay off the road, so the drive wasn’t as harrowing as the subsequent 8 hours in an understaffed ICU), I was able to spend most of the long weekend at home.

My neighborhood picked up around 8 inches of beautiful, powdery snow, much to my son’s delight:

Creating a full-size snowman seemed like too much effort, so we settled for elf-size.

Creating a full-size snowman seemed like too much effort, so we settled for elf-size.

It was fun to see all the kids on our street with their sleds and toboggans sliding down the hill in front of our house. I’m not sure I remember a day when so many neighbors were out visiting with each other; snow (and days off from work) must be a universal catalyst for socializing.

My half-marathon training plan called for a 6-miler this weekend. Unfortunately, the gym was closed due to the weather (which I’m almost grateful for; I did a tempo run on the treadmill Thursday, which reminded me why I run outdoors in just about any weather!) so I decided to brave the snowy roads and trails.

Here’s a view of where I began, a paved trail I do at least a portion of nearly every run on:

Somewhere under there is a trail...

Somewhere under there is a trail…

The snow was powdery and mostly packed, but the footing was uneven and a little slippery. I slowed my pace quite a bit, and it felt sort of like running on a rough trail. By a couple miles in, I was pretty fatigued mentally, and very concerned about straining a muscle or twisting an ankle before my race next Sunday, so I turned around and headed home for a total of about 4.5 miles…Good enough, I decided, and my legs should be nice and fresh next weekend! Again, it was fun to see all the people out enjoying the scenery, some of them on cross-country skis

Fast-forward a few days: the weather turned almost balmy, and the rain started pouring down.

R.I.P., little snow elf.

R.I.P., little snow elf.


I made it outdoors for the last run before my race, a short tempo run which felt GREAT! The snow was a fun interlude, but it was nice to be back out in the normal Oregon winter drizzle.

The weather forecast for the coming weekend calls for heavy rain and wind…I’ll be hoping for a break between about 8 and 10 Sunday morning, but even if I don’t get one, at least I won’t be running in a Snowpocalypse!

(Fast forward another week…MAN, I have a hard time finishing blog posts! At least I don’t have the same problem with racing. My half is done, I nailed my goal pace, and I can finally walk down the stairs without cringing. A race report to follow…if I ever get around to it!)

Back in the Saddle, Again…

Ahhh, that was a nice, long rest, wasn’t it? I feel refreshed, energized, motivated…to blog again, that is. Sorry for the long delay…Since my Oly tri in September, life has been full: family, projects around the house, and yes, goal-setting and training for the next race.

I’m the Parent of a Kindergartener!

Hard to believe it, but the kiddo turned 6 in November. He’s happily attending a kindergarten a full half-hour away from our house. The long commute creates the perfect opportunity for him to pepper me with relentless questions like these:

1. How long until our sun turns into a supernova?

2. How much cheese can you eat before you have a heart attack?

3. Is a baby shower like a meteor shower, with babies falling from the sky? (I’m pretty sure he was joking with this one…At least I hope he was!)

All pretty reasonable questions, though none quite as wonderful as the one he asked me a year or two ago: “Mommy, what do the actors do when we press ‘pause’ on the remote control?” I laugh every time I envision a crew of tiny people inside our TV standing around waiting for my son to press “play” again.

Trying to find answers must count as some kind of training for my brain. I swear I’ve done speedwork on the track lately that was less exhausting than a 20-minute conversation with my son! Still, I’m loving this stage of his childhood, where his creativity and curiosity are expanding so quickly, but his little body still fits perfectly next to mine when he crawls into bed for a snuggle on Saturday morning.

I’m Training for a Half-Marathon!

After my Oly tri in September, I vowed to take a couple weeks off from training. I lasted 5 days before going out for a run. I waited a little longer before setting some new goals, then decided it’s time to jump back on the horse that threw me. My summer of training left me feeling stronger than I ever have, so I hunted out a training plan in which I run only 3 days a week, so I can continue to swim and bike at least once a week. It’s not an easy plan, though; I set a goal pace for my HM, and the plan calls for tempo runs, speedwork, and a long run all at prescribed paces to help me achieve that goal. There are no “easy run” days or junk miles, but I’m actually pretty happy with that. It’s nice to set out with a purpose for every workout, and so far I’ve been able to meet or exceed my goal pace with every one (although last week’s 6-mile tempo run nearly made me cry.)

I’m just hoping my body’s revolving display of nagging aches and pains (Left foot! Right knee! Left hip! Upper back!) doesn’t progress to anything steady and debilitating. With a little luck, February 16th will find me CRUSHING my half-marathon PR and nailing my goal pace! Either way, I’m feeling pretty good about the way I’m running right now.

(Disappears for 3 weeks, continues to train for her race and be a mommy, then remembers she has a blog again…)

And, here I am again. Today was the last run of the peak week of training for my HM. I’m proud to say I met or beat the prescribed pace for every tempo run, track workout, and long run I’ve done. I had weekly mileage totals that were way higher than I’ve ever had in the past, and all on 3 days a week of running! I cross-trained on the bike and in the pool, too, which was a nice break from the long run workouts.

At this point, I don’t even really feel that much pressure to nail my goal pace for the half. I’ll run hard if I feel like it, or back off if it feels like too much. The real victory I’m celebrating is having the self-discipline to push myself through mile repeats on tired legs, or an 8-mile tempo run when my stomach was cramping…or just getting myself out the door for a long run on a cold day when I could have stayed in my warm house.

So send me some happy thoughts on February 16th, if you think about it, but rest assured that I will be having fun no matter what. After all, the hardest part of my race is already finished.

Warning: The Following Post Contains Language Unsuitable for Those Under 6 Years of Age

I’m a baby-head. And my ideas are poopy-headed. So says (or yells) my 5-year-old son, anyway.

It’s hard to keep a straight face when he’s having a tantrum and throwing out this type of insult, even though on the inside my heart is breaking a little because he’s so obviously frustrated and doesn’t know how to cope.

I blame myself. For the ridiculous vocabulary, I mean, not the tantrums themselves. (I’m pretty sure those come from my husband’s gene pool.) I have selfishly refused to use any REAL profanity in front of him (and, oh, how I’ve wanted to sometimes!) so he obviously lacks the proper terminology to truly express his anger. Heck, we’ve been referring to his posterior as his “bottom” or “booty” forever; the other day after school he had to ask me what a “butt” was. I told him, and now it’s his new favorite word. (“Mommy, check out my booty-butt!!!” “Kiddo, pull up your pants, right now!)

I don’t know why I have this hang-up about my child using certain words. I guess there’s a part of me that wants to preserve his baby-ness for as long as I can, even as he grows into a school-age boy. So in our house, it’s bottom instead of butt, toots instead of farts, and gosh-darn-it instead of…well, just about anything else you could say when you drop a book on your toe or spill a glass of milk. (Ironically, my husband and I, a physician and a nurse, have always used the proper anatomical terms for his private parts; while this ensures he’ll never need to learn the “real” word for them later, it has made for some embarrassing moments in public. Imagine a 3-year-old explaining at full volume the differences between the men and women on the magazine covers while we’re waiting in the grocery checkout line!)

So for now, angry outbursts in our house are going to be accompanied by some creative and sometimes pretty hilarious insults. My husband and I will try to hide our smiles while we show respect for his feelings, set limits on his behavior, help him learn coping strategies, and otherwise do all the “good parent” things we’re supposed to be doing. And we’ll wait until later, after he’s in bed, to laugh hysterically about his word choices; after all, that may turn out to be the one bright spot in an otherwise very trying day as parents.

A picture of "angry." Drawing his feelings actually turned out to be a pretty good alternative to yelling about them!

A picture of “Angry.” Drawing his feelings actually turned out to be a pretty good alternative to yelling about them!

2012, The Year in Review: My Identity Crisis

Since my injury last spring effectively ruined my summer identity as a wannabe triathlete, I spent the year considering some alternate identities to hold me over until I’m back on the race circuit.

I tried for “fashionista.” Unfortunately, the summer’s cute dresses and skinny cropped pants looked a little funny with the clunky running shoes I keep my custom orthotics in, so that idea never really got off the ground.

I flirted briefly with being “SuperMom,” but again, the foot injury interfered with my ability to chase the child around the park and backyard for hours, which seems to be the kiddo’s idea of what SuperMom should be doing. (I will stubbornly cling to my identity of “Pretty Good Mom,” however; I think the hours spent doing craft projects and teaching him to love veggies has earned me that much.)

So finally, after much deliberation, I settled on being “Suzy Homemaker,” at least until I’m back to my former triathlete-ish self.

Here is the substantiating evidence to support my self-ordained title:

See how my garden grows? Lots of healthy organic veggies!

Just a bit of this summer’s homegrown produce.

Homemade jam…Made from berries the kiddo and I picked together.

I'm sporting just one of around 8 sweaters I managed to knit over the year.

I’m sporting just one of around 8 sweaters I managed to knit over the year.

The downside to the massive amount of time spent knitting while I waited for my foot to heal…was a horrible case of wrist tendonitis, which put me on the knitting DL for a while. Who knew you could get injured sitting on the couch recovering from injury?

Fortunately, the foot is mostly healed, and the rest of the body is gradually remembering what it’s like to run 6 or 7 miles at a time. Swimming is going, well, swimmingly, and cycling…Okay, pending better weather and a saddle that doesn’t leave bruises where bruises shouldn’t be, this WILL be the year I establish a good relationship with my bike!

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of gal, so I won’t set any hard and fast goals for the upcoming year. Still, I have high hopes for finishing an Olympic distance tri, improving my 10K time, and getting some quality open-water swims in. On the parenting side, I’m hoping that consistent discipline paired with lots of love and affection will help us navigate us through this current rough patch of defiance and into calmer waters by the time kindergarten starts in the fall. And if he just grows out of it on his own, well, I have every intention of taking all the credit as a self-proclaimed “Pretty Good Mom.”

Here’s what WordPress had to say about my blog over the past year, if you’re interested:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Weekly Workouts in Parenting

My weekly schedule for running typically includes a long, slow distance run, a speed or tempo run, and a middle-distance, middle-speed day. I’m a routine-oriented person, so it’s pretty reliable that these days fall on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, each week, barring any major changes in my son’s preschool schedule, or my own work routine.

The parenting routine is a little less predictable. It does, however, parallel the run workouts in a few ways. Each week contains some mix of the following:

The Speed Workout: Get up and get dressed, we’re going to be late to school! How fast can I make this PB & J sandwich for his lunch while encouraging him to hurry up and finish his oatmeal? Get your shoes on, get in the car! Drop him off at school, grab a latte, then rapid-fire grocery shopping, workout, school pickup and a haircut for kiddo. Drop off overdue books at library, head to Tae Kwon Do, then throw together something like a healthy meal for dinner; cleanup, bedtime…And I’m spent.

Middle Distance Day: Not so many errands to run, just a steady diet of housework, helping the kiddo with homework, etc.  (Seriously? Homework at the preschool level? Yep, it’s true!) Hubby’s home on time, so making dinner is a little less rushed (and he puts kiddo to bed!) Pleasantly tired but not exhausted by the end of the day.

The Long, Slow Distance Day: Husband gets up early and heads out for a full day of work; a dinner meeting that night means I won’t see him until after the kiddo’s asleep. No school today…What will we do to entertain ourselves? A trip to the park, a stop off at the grocery store…Back home for lunch, and the kiddo’s afternoon whining corresponds with my afternoon fatigue; a little “quiet time” in his room and a little TV time for me restore us slightly, and we spend the rest of the afternoon coloring, playing with Legos, and passing the time until dinner. The pre-dinner hour brings another bout of the whinies, which I do my best to ignore, though eventually they result in a timeout and some tears. Dinner improves the little guy’s temper, and pretty soon it’s time to get ready for bed. The stall tactics and foot-dragging bring me to the brink of losing my temper, but eventually he’s in his pajamas. Story time, and then he’s tucked into bed…And tucked in again, 10 minutes later. Finally, all is quiet. I collapse on the couch in exhaustion.

Comparing the challenge of running to the challenge of parenting is no contest; parenting taxes me emotionally and physically, and often leaves me feeling worn out, as opposed to running, which generally leaves me either energized or pleasantly fatigued. But there is one major similarity: all this hard work is going to pay off eventually…Isn’t it?

Hard to believe such an adorable creature could be so much work, isn’t it?

 

Swimmer’s High

Lately I’ve been feeling like the management at my gym has been adding some sort of substance to the pool water that makes it especially viscous. It’s really the only explanation for why I’ve been training and training, and still feeling so sluggish in the water. I’ve been busting out Total Immersion drills and interval workouts twice a week for months now, with no visible payoff. Yes, my strokes-per-length have decreased, and I’ve seen a few other minor improvements, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a major swimming breakthrough. Until today, that is.

This morning was Superhero Day at my son’s preschool, so I bundled him into his Batman T-shirt (complete with cape) and dropped him off in the company of Ironman, Superman, a Transformer, Catwoman, and, inexplicably, a fairy princess, then headed off to the pool. (Okay, there was a latte stop, some Facebook and Twitter time, a load of laundry, and a kitchen cleanup in-between, but you get the point.) I faced my morning swim with my usual reluctance and grudging resignation, but guess what, folks? Today, it DID NOT SUCK!!! In fact, today I finally had the kind of revelatory experience that my hardcore runner friends annoy me by bragging about: a runner’s high! Except it was while I was swimming! (I’m still waiting for it to happen while running, actually.)

I’ll spare you the details of my 700-yard warmup and just say that when I started what was supposed to be 500 yards at moderate effort, and then some 100-yard repeats, I began to feel like a superhero myself. I was gliding through the water effortlessly, painlessly, (but not slowly,) breathing easily…Even my flip turns were smooth! And at 500 yards it felt so good I decided to keep going until it didn’t. 800, still great. 1000, no problem. 1200, I could keep going forever. 1400…My swim cap, which had been creeping a little further back with each flip turn, finally popped off my forehead and tangled itself around my ponytail like one of those little bun-covers the Mennonite women wear, leaving me with a swirl of blonde bangs obscuring my view. That’s where I finally stopped. 1400 yards continuous swimming, a flip turn at each end, and a heart rate that never went above 130, at a pace under 2 minutes/100 yards.

I’ve swum further than that without stopping before (though it’s been a while). I’ve swum faster, too. But it never felt that easy, and I always WANTED to be done at the end. Today, I really felt like I could have gone on for miles, blissfully. Rather than welcoming an excuse to stop, I was truly annoyed that I had to. (Swim cap issue aside, I had to go pick up my little Batman from school.) But with no time or wardrobe constraints, I would really have liked to see how long I could have kept going.

I’m under no illusion that my next swim will be so easy, or that this was anything more than a lucky day where things just came together right. But I might be a little more excited to head to the pool for my next few workouts. In any case, I should probably send a letter to the gym’s management thanking them for altering the chemistry of the water to make me, finally, a good swimmer!

What Mommy’s Been Up to Lately…

Obviously, not blogging! So here’s a quick summary of my activities since I last acknowledged my blog’s existence:

Swimming! After this spring’s open water disaster, I decided it was time to rethink my swimming form and training techniques. I checked out the book “Total Immersion” by Terry Laughlin and prepared to revolutionize my swimming with a whole new philosophy (That’s what the book’s cover promises, anyway.) What I found was not so much revolutionary, but some really practical concepts related to swimming efficiency that have helped me get past the feeling that, in order to swim faster, I must make my arms go faster. My rotation in the water has improved, my breathing has become much easier, and I’ve reduced the number of strokes per length of the pool from 20 to 18, all without sacrificing any speed (or finishing the book, for that matter. I was only halfway through when it was due back at the library.)

Biking! Finally got that bike fit I so desperately needed. My backaches: Gone! My knee pain: Gone! The pain in my tush: Worse! Apparently, when your bike fits properly, you sit directly on your seat bones, and if your saddle isn’t right, you end up with a bruised butt. So I think it’s time to go back and visit my friendly neighborhood bike fitter (He really is friendly, and not intimidating at all, though, I kid you not, he goes by the name Rambo) and check out some new saddles. After all, a 12-mile bike ride should not cause me trouble with sitting for 3 days afterward.

Running! The foot is holding up just fine, and after 2 months, the heart and lungs are starting to catch up. My best effort yet over 3 miles is a humbling 11:11 minutes/mile, but I’m okay with that for right now. It was a 3 1/2 month layoff, after all. Still, hard to believe I ran a half-marathon in February, given my current lack of endurance.

Gardening! I’ve picked over 50 pounds of produce from my very own veggie garden so far this summer. The hits? Sugar snap peas…They’ve been gone since July, but they were far and away the most popular item for 4-year-olds and their mommies to eat straight off the vine this year. Tomatoes, especially the cherry ones, are also quite popular, and while zucchini as a veggie has been unpopular in the preschool set, zucchini bread is a smash hit. But green beans…Oh, am I ever tired of green beans. Note to self for next year: 5 rows of green beans is 3 rows too many.

This guy loves his veggies!

Knitting! Oh, dear Lord, how I’ve knitted. I’m using my triathlon training to give my hands a rest right now, since I’m pretty sure the tradeoff for letting my foot injury heal this spring was carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists from time spent on the couch knitting sweaters.

Tweeting! Okay, this has only been going on for a couple days. But if you’re interested, I’d love to pick up more than one follower! @MartyInTimeout

Hope you are enjoying the end of summer, and welcoming the fall! Off I go to see if I can improve on that 11-minute mile!

When Monsters Threaten…

We have a pest problem in our house. We can’t see ’em, we can’t hear ’em, but we know they’re there. At least, one of us knows it. According to the kiddo, the monsters in his closet are the reason he can’t go to sleep at night.

Since the kiddo sleeping is key to my health and well-being, this problem called for an immediate solution. I was at a loss; monster repellent (a.k.a., air freshener) was proving ineffective, as were the nightly monster inspections my husband and I were performing. Then the preschool director had the brilliant idea of asking the child himself what he thought would work. Without hesitation, he declared, “Robot Monster Guards.”

Thus, a craft project was born.

A robot engineer, hard at work.

The Robot Monster Guards in their final form.

We stuck ’em in the closet, and so far, so good…Not a single complaint about monsters for three whole nights. Now, if only we had a solution to that annoying darkness-at-night issue, all our problems would be solved. (Please don’t suggest a night light…He already has three.)

Unreasonable Demands

We are 2-for-2 in spilled glasses of milk in our past 2 meals. We’re also 2-for-2 in me scolding the kiddo for not paying attention, and 2-for-2 in him responding with, “You’re not my mommy anymore! Now leave this house!” Parenthood rocks.

My husband has been working 14- to 16-hour shifts for most of the past week and through the weekend…He’s in the middle of 10 days without a day off. I want him to come home. I also want my son to start behaving like the sweet 2-year-old he used to be, or the sweet 4-year-old everyone promised I’d get. (Everyone who told me 3 is the worst, and 4 gets so much better: Thanks for creating false hope.) This whiny, demanding, tantrum-y child is a stranger to me.

Since I have no reasonable expectations that either of the above wishes will come true anytime soon, I might as well dish out a list of other equally unlikely demands.

1. I’d like the Seattle Mariners to have a winning season. This year.
2. I’d like my podiatrist to clear me for running by the middle of May.
3. I’d like to get back on my bike soon, and have it magically fit me perfectly…Oh, and I’d like to discover at the same time that I LOVE cycling!
4. I’d like the other moms at preschool to want to ask me for fashion tips because I always look so chic. (Probably better stop wearing ratty sweats at drop-off time if I want this to happen.)
5. I’d like Starbucks to develop a no-calorie caramel macchiato that doesn’t taste like artificial sweetener.
6. While we’re on the subject of coffee, how about designing a blend that whitens teeth?
7. I’d like whatever wild creature that keeps digging up my sugar snap peas to cease before I don’t have any left.
8. I really, really want to go for a teensy, weensy jog.

Gotta go now…Time to drag the little monster out to the car while he complains about how won’t go to school because “school is boring, and I’m already smart enough.” Rest assured, when I pick him up in four hours, he’ll be full of stories about all the fun things he did that day, and how funny all his friends are.

And then we’ll do it all again tomorrow.

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