Thursday, January 8, 2009

Justification

I feel like a fairly confident person.
I believe in myself.
I do know I work hard to do things "right." Whatever that is...
And I try Very hard not to be selfish. I mean, is it Possible to be selfish when you are raising children?
I work hard to be a good wife, a good Mom, a good friend, a good daughter, and a good sister.
I have nothing but the best intentions for these things.
Of course, we all have our moments. We all make mistakes. Let's all remember that song, "Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do" I believe it was from Sesame Street...about 100 years ago. My Mom used to sing it to me. My 7 yo son brought it up at dinner last night! I can't remember what he did...but he quickly reminded us that Grammie sings that to them when they're at her house. hmmm, wonder what they do to provoke that little tune from her. All I ever hear are raving reports of their "perfect" behavior. Off on a tangent there....
Ok, where am I going with this?
Why do I continue to feel the need to justify my training/racing with those outside the sport?
People out there seem to really question me and the time I spend running, biking, and swimming.
Here's where my confidence fizzles.
I can't tell if they're "impressed" or "disgusted."
Do they wish they could do it too or do they think I MUST be depriving my family from quality Mom/wife time?
My alarm rarely goes off after 5 a.m. Even on the weekends. Today is my birthday after all and I was up at 4:45 and I am still doing laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, and nursing a sick little boy. I am not selfish. I don't think....
" I don't know how you do it. I mean, you do have a really young family. How do you get all the housework done? How do you take care of everything else?"
Ummmm
well.......
I just....do. I just do.
Was that a criticism I just heard? Or a compliment? Tell me. Which was it? Cause right now I feel like a shmuck. Or do I feel proud of myself?
Stick me on a starting block or in the front of a pack at a triathlon start and I feel like superwoman. I am strong, confident, sure of myself.
Question my mothering and I wither into a puddle.
Why is this?
Maybe it's because I have succeeded in my athletic life but the verdict on my mothering is still out there.
When I am 84 and the kids are 55, 53 and 51, perhaps I'll hear some nice feedback about their childhood or what a supportive, loving Mom I was. Maybe. Please boys? We all wish for this someday. (reminder here....call your Moms. )
I have stepped back from my career to raise these little people.I have a Master's degree in my chosen field and yet I do not even bring a single dollar into this household lately. This is for them..not me. I am here every single day for them. No matter what. And I love it. I am thankful that I can do this. I feel lucky. And I enjoy it.
Is it so bad that I squeeze a few hours out of the day for myself?
I dont' think so. I do think it's ok. There are millions of books written on this topic. On how it's ok, no, it's Critical for Moms to take time for themselves. I do not miss any sporting events, I do not miss family events, but I do miss a lot of sleep. I do scramble to fold the laundry and sometimes...gasp...it does Not get folded!!! It's ok right?
My goal ( one of them of course) for 2009, for my 39th year, is to be more confident about my choices. My husband and I discuss this Ironman plan. We discuss my training. We have made it work for Our family. He knows it is one key part to my happiness. I need to do this stuff. I have always been an athlete and it wont' stop. If it did, I would lose a part of me.
From now on I will not let those naysayers get me down. My kids are happy, well cared for, and their Mom is there for them.
I make a resolution to stop trying to justify myself.

23 comments:

Nathaniel said...

Ange,
You are doing a superwoman and don't let anyone else tell you differently. To be able to care for your family and still find the time to train is such an accomplishment. I know what it takes and it's a lot of pain and suffering but when you come down that finishing shoot with all of the people screaming and yelling all the pain just goes away and you feel so happy to be there in that moment. I too am struggling right now. I just got married, bought a house and I have a baby girl on the way. Due April 20th. I still don't know how i'm going to manage it all and still do what I love to do, swim,bike,run. I'm sure it will all work out in the end. Maybe you can give me some tips. Keep up the good work and train hard for lake placid, I wish I could join you but I know someday I will be there as well.

The Lazy Triathlete said...

I have had this discussion with more than one woman and to the life of me I don't get it. How can a successful, driven woman be so unsure of themselves? If your husband is honest with you, it probably drives him nuts. (That was the tough love part)

Most people look at you in awe for what you are able to accomplish. The ones that look at you with disgust basically worthless pieces of dog crap who see their own failures and have projected them on to you. Don't them get you down.

You are a very lucky woman to have a husband who understands your drive and desire to push yourself (please talk to my wife, she doesn't get it). Keep working hard and stop worrying about others. One day your kids will be able to say that their mom is better than the other kids and they will be correct.

When I start to get beat down I re-read the poem IF by Kipling.

http://www.swarthmore.edu/~apreset1/docs/if.html

Kurt P. said...

ange, I tend to be pretty blunt...right?

Fuck them.

This society is full of narcissistic assholes who try to tell you/me how we raise are kids and support our family's.

again...fuck them.

go train...you earned it.

Shevaun said...

Ange,
I struggle with all the same issues. I have two girls (6 & 8), work full time, and compete in triathlons (training 8-20 hours/week). I am up at 4:30am every morning to make sure I never miss the PM events my kids have. You are doing hte right thing, becasue if you found no time for yourself, you'd be a much worse parent. Keep it up.
Shev

Act II said...

You know how on the airplane they tell you that if the cabin loses pressure, your'e supposed to put on your own air mask first before helping children with theirs?

Same thing in life. You can't help your children if you can't breathe yourself. We all only have so much to give to others before the well runs dry, and then we need to go back to whatever that source is and fill up again. You can't give your children what you don't have. Self-care is not selfish -- it's actually much more selfless than martyrdom.

It's clear from your blog that training and racing fills up and energizes you. In the end that makes you a better mother, wife, friend, and person.

People who aren't into the sport only seen the expenditure side of the equation -- they don't understand how pursuing a passion could possible give you more energy for the rest of your busy life.

Clearly, you know better. So simply recognize that some people don't get it, and probably never will. They have their own struggles to overcome, so who are they to judge you and your choices? Just know that you are doing what's right for you AND your family and don't let the bastards get you down.

Rural Girl said...

One question....What kind of mother would you be if you weren't involved in triathlon?

Velma said...

I just found your blog and it is fantastic. Would they ask a man the same question - heck no!

I agree with Rural Girl - my mothering would be much worse if I didn't get a break every day.

That said, I have the same feeling quite often and hear the same comments. I doubt that the people who comment got up before 5 like I did today.

Marni said...

Happy b-day! Just keep enjoying yourself and with your supportive family, they are the only ones you have to explain yourself too. plus, you are setting a great example and you will live a long and healthy life to be there for your kids and your kids' kids. :)
-marn

Pedergraham said...

Happy Birthday, Ange! If your boys are happy and content and your husband is happy and content, then you must be doing the right thing. I think as a mom, the toughest thing for me is the guesswork. I make decisions carefully and hoping that I am makeing the right ones at the right times. Sometimes I amke mistakes, but the great thing about being a mom is that I can get up tomorrow and have a chance to do it even better. Sometimes I think the self-doubt eats away at us, but it is also our own way of tryign to keep us honest with ourselves.

Jennifer Harrison said...

HAPPY 39th!
Oh boy. this is the BEST resolution EVER. Not that I justify the "me time" anymore, but I DO have a ton of mom guilt and it gets WORSE every year. The older the kids get the harder it is..b/c you don't want to miss things. Today - and here is a side of me that people rarely see - I was on the treadmill trying to do X thing and X hard pace and it was overwhelming to me. And, the laundry is ALL over, the dishes sit undone and well...the house is a mess...and I get unbalanced....AND I have to stop. I have to pull back and take a deep breath and call it a day. AND I am so hard on myself that I get mad at myself - but then I walk upstairs from the treadmill in the basement and look at the house - the xmas tree STILL UP - the xmas decorations half put away and think..Ok, get this stuff done before the kids get home from school and we all go to swim lessons in 30 minutes...a client bike fit in 1 hour, etc.....sometimes, the cape must come off....and while we can't be perfect - we must understand that YOU deserve that time and most people will never understand. My neighbors and good friends all get me. They get I don't drink myself silly every Friday night with them or bitch about gaining weight and being SO tired all the time (as they do)....and instead I spend my free time when not working fulltime or being MOM - training. And, that makes me happy and ultimately a better mom. YOU are doing great, Ange. Balance is one of the things I struggle with as do most moms...it is just natural AND then add in Type-A athletes/triathletes and it is crazy! :)

IronMatron said...

Hi beautiful--
Kurt spoke my words--and here I was all ready to be the first to utter them.
FUCK. THEM.
My vision is to have us all move to a commune type situation in which we can grow organic vegetables, collectively raise our children, and swim, ride, run and talk carbon fiber the rest of the time. a bubble. that's what i'm talking about.

Melissa said...

I love your new resolution. I really think that the reason people are asking "how do you do it" is because they can't possibly see themselves able to do it. I do not think that they are all judging you in a negative way.

Running Through Time said...

First off, Happy Birthday! I just wanted to let you know I am impressed with what you have accomplished in your life, as a mother, wife, daughter, student etc... I stronly believe in order for our children to be happy we as mothers have got to be happy. Mothers need time to themselves as well and nobody should fault you for doing what you enjoy. So keep on running, swimming and biking because your children will gain so much from your achievements! Remember the cards your sons class made for you...he is so proud of his mother.

Melissa

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Face it - those other people are just jealous. And, by questioning the only thing they share in common with you mothering, makes them feel like they can "one up" you. Do what is best for you and your family... and keep up the great job!

LG said...

the best thing a person can do for is be his/her best, most authentic version of oneself....if you are not, you cannot truly be anything to anyone else...especially young children...so be the best athlete you can...your kids and you will thank you for it and glad you were in the long run. you are teaching them and leading by example more than you probably realize, even when it may seem to you you aren't...you are.

BreeWee said...

You are incredible...
GREAT post and thank you for sharing... no way are you selfish, not at all... I deal with that ALL the time (but I know I am a bit selfish, I still struggle to find the balance) BUT I think if you LOVE your children and the people in your life then your heart is in the right place... no need to justify yourself, what you do makes you a better person! AND look what you teach your children by setting goals and dreaming and training and racing!

You are wonderful... never forget it! LOVE the new blog header foto too!

Kim said...

always always always take time for yourself. if anyone thinks or tells you differently...like kurt and mary said - fuck them :) kudus to being a great wife, mom and fantastic triathlete! im in awe of you!

L1z4 said...

This is a great post, I think it would make a good magazine article. My 2 cents... I'm not a triathlete, but I've toyed with the a dream of doing a triathlon, and have set up a training schedule. My current dream is to do a 3k race this summer.

As a person outside of the sport of triathlon, who would likely be one of the people asking you how you do it, I would say 99% of those asking are inspired and impressed, and not disgusted. In our heads, we're thinking, "wow, look at her, she's really happy, and her kids are well cared for, I'd like to do that! Maybe she knows something I don't, maybe I can do it too." The other 1% who would be disgusted are probably people you'd be better off without.

Everybody projects their feelings onto others, and then badgers them with their own judgements about themselves. So, when someone is saying "aren't you selfish", that's them revealing how they feel about themselves, and it doesn't mean they think you're a bad mom. The only people whose opinion matters is you and your kids. If you're worried, have a talk with your kids and ask them how they feel about what you do. Kids are pretty cool that way, they'll be very honest.

Another point is women in our society have body image issues. Taking a look at you and your nice body, we can get jealous, but don't want to do the work to get it. Body image issues is quite complex, and how you work it out is personal. The only thing I can suggest is if someone is all catty, and judging, try looking at them with compassion and kindness.If they hurt your feelings, tell them, and say they are being hurtful and you don't deserve it.

Lastly, that's a great resolution, I admire it greatly. Thanks for sharing it, I find it inspiring as I plan on carving a little training time for my dream of running a 3k. :-) many thumbs up!

Judi said...

hey ange - sorry i ahven't read your blog recently, but i wanted to stop by cuz i was thinking about you yesterday. i was thinking about how you manage to be a mom and wife and a super triathlete too. i made the choice to not have kids and i feel lucky that i don't have to wake at 4am for my workouts. i feel lucky that i can hang around the house and take care of my dogs and go to workout when i am ready. you do a fantastic job getting it all done. you should never under-estmate your abilities as a mother and don't let those assholes question your integrity when it comes to raising your kids. eff them i say. they are probably jealous of your beautiful athletic body and your ability to really do it all.

take care, judi

IronMatron said...

I really wanted to make it so you had 20 comments.
hi!

Swimming for ME said...

Well here is comment #21... Knowing you for as long as I have I know that if anyone can do it, you can Ange! One of the hardest things is to have confidence in your way of doing it -- doing life -- when so many other people will tell you otherwise, or worse imply it. Keep focused and let it roll off your back.

I a so looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

Zach said...

I think you've really got your shit together and anyone that questions you or makes you feel bad about the choices you make can, as many have said, go fuck themselves. By doing what you do you are showing your kids that anything is possible and that by working hard you can achieve your goals/dreams. Keep on doing what you do and forget about anyone that tries to get you down.

Rebecca DeWire said...

This is a GREAT post. Thanks for sharing your feelings on this issue. I believe that if you are happy and your family is happy, then screw everyone else. You are an amazing athlete and you deserve to go after your dreams, I guarantee this makes you a better parent.