Today, I’m excited to bring you something new – a book review by contributor Devon Barta. I hope you enjoy!
When I first became a mom, I heard “take care of yourself,” casually thrown my way, too many times to count. But it wound up being one of the first pieces of advice I tossed out the proverbial window.
Putting my own needs on the back burner felt right at the time, which I guess was due to my maternal instincts kicking in and forcing me to focus only on my children. But before long, I realized that all my self-sacrifice was causing me to wear down far too quickly – so I started to take the saying seriously.
I got my act together, exercised when I could, watched what I ate – and after a year had lost the whopping 80 pounds I gained while pregnant with my twin sons. Then to my surprise and utter joy, I found out I was pregnant again. The next nine months came and went, and I found myself back in the same position as two years before, 55 pounds heavier and never finding time to exercise or eat right.
Until I discovered running.
Discovering this new-found passion took root through one simple yet powerful human emotion: pride. Pride, and the accountability that it provides. I set a goal of running a half marathon and simply told other people my plans.
Thanks to the power of pride, I HAD to do it. Too many people knew and were actually interested. It turned out to be one of the best things I ever did for my physical well-being and emotional health, which as we all know, become increasingly more important as we have children.
But it wasn’t all grit and ego that got me to complete the half-marathon and get to where I am now. I had help along the way … from a book.
Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving – and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea got me off the couch and into my running shoes more times than I can count.
The book was essentially developed throughout email correspondence between McDowell and Shea. They had originally envisioned it as a magazine series for Runner’s World that detailed the highs and lows of balancing motherhood and marathon training but quickly realized that it was much more. And I’m glad they did, because it is.
Aside from having a clever name, this book is chalk full of motivation and – perhaps even more important – a sense of camaraderie. It’s very well written, with a “hey you, you’re a mom, I’m a mom, we’re in this together” type of feel. It’s often funny and always inspirational.
My favorite chapter – and the one I turn to most often – is written by Dimity. It deals with motherhood being a life of non-negotiables, that there are things that we, as mothers, have to do for our children and our family’s well-being. She makes a point that we should include ourselves in that category by making our health and fitness a nonnegotiable factor in our lives.
It was this thought, conveyed in Chapter Two that profoundly changed my outlook and, inevitably, my life. Now, like the puke-soaked sheets that need to be changed in the middle of the night, my bathroom slippers get tossed aside for my running shoes nearly every morning. Run Like a Mother is more than just a book: it’s been a training partner, a confidant, a friend.
Running and motherhood are a lot alike. They both take infinite amounts of patience, dedication and stamina. Rest days help too. Running used to be something I despised, but now it’s my lifeline, my escape. It fuels me and makes me a better mom, wife and woman.
The payoff to the hours logged shows on the road in greater endurance and improved time splits, but the most important benefits are found at home, on the pride I see on the faces of my family members. Running – or any sort of outside activity – is an investment, not just in yourself, but in your family.
From contributor Devon Barta:
Reading is what I do, and it’s what my family has done for the past 30 years.
My husband, Alex, and I are third-generation owners of The Paperhouse in St. Maries, Idaho. Our store carries a wide variety of books as well as office supplies, art and scrapbooking materials, and we are the largest Melissa & Doug toy dealer in North Idaho.
Whenever I finish a book, I talk to myself. Out loud. Sometimes even in public. I’m having a conversation with no one, really, but I’m analyzing the book, dissecting its dialogue, processing its prose.
In an order to appear sane, I finally started writing my thoughts down, and you can now find them and follow our family’s journey at The Paperhouse.
Thanks, Devon, for the great essay. Anyone else feeling motivated to put on a pair of running shoes?