Finishing Last

The birth of the twins has changed my life a lot. (No kidding, right?)

There's a lot of change for the better. Watching Isabella as a big sister is immensely gratifying. Witnessing them grow and change from tiny NICU graduates with bony chicken arms and legs to round and pudgy babies is awesome. And of course, their gummy little smiles and belly laughs can (sometimes) make me forget that they're still basically nocturnal.

But their arrival has also further chipped away at the person I was before I became "mommy" 2.5 years ago. Sometimes it is very hard to see where they end and I begin.

Case in point: Running.

Prior to Isabella's birth, I ran 30 miles a week. As a result, I had loads of energy and I was in the best shape of my life. I set a goal of someday running a marathon. Of course, I was knee-deep in infertility hell, so my emotions were frequently out-of-whack, but other than the "pining for a baby" bit, I was at a good place in my life. I loved to run.

Enter Isabella in August of 2006. All of a sudden, I was a slave to her schedule. My time was no longer my own. I couldn't run in the morning before work anymore because she needed to be fed. I couldn't run after work because I was working FT from home, and so there really wasn't an "after work" anymore. I needed to utilize every free second I had from the minute the hubs walked through the door to get my work done. So I ran on the treadmill in the basement while she napped in the morning, and when she gave up her morning nap, I ran during her afternoon one. I didn't have time for 30 miles a week anymore, but I averaged about 18-20, and that suited me just fine.

And then I got pregnant. And then the twins arrived. And then the twins decided that sleep was for pansies. And then I was (and still am) up all night long with one baby or the other (or both) and as a result, a haggard, energy-drained mess during the day. And then running took a backseat to sitting at my kitchen table with eyes half-closed, chin on my chest, and a cup of coffee rapidly cooling on the table in front of me.

I'm averaging a completely pathetic 6-10 miles a week. All of my runs are accomplished when there is someone else in the house because the needs of my children demand it. If my grandma comes over to play with Isabella, I'll wait until the twins are asleep and hit the treadmill. On the weekends, the hubs is home, which grants me a bit more freedom, but even then someone's butt always needs wiping, someone is always crying, and someone always needs to be fed. If my time wasn't my own when I was the mother of one, my time became non-existent the second the twins arrived.

And I miss it. I crave it. Half the time, I'm too exhausted to even contemplate a run. The other half I'm longing for the ability to just open my front door and run and run and run for miles.

In a lot of ways, I don't recognize the person I am now. So much has changed in just 2 years. I've gone from the mother of none to the mother of three. I've gone from working FT at a job that wasn't my dream position by any means, but that I was damn good at and received frequent praise for to freelancing from home with dwindling assignments. I went from reading a book a week to reading a book every six months. I went from complete and total independence to being able to count on one hand the number of hours in a day where I do not have my arms full of baby.

Sometimes I can look at my life and see that it isn't my time now, it's my children's. They're very young, and my life won't always be this way. I should enjoy these years (tough as they are) because when they're gone, I will miss them terribly.

But other times I am desperately searching for me amongst the Legos, the burp clothes, the green beans mashed into the floor, and the constant and never-ending needs of three small kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And it's during these times when I find myself wondering if I'm always going to finish last.

9 Responses to “Finishing Last”

  1. # Anonymous Kris

    Hugs, hugs, and more hugs.

    As Brody would say- "my god gracious!" I understand. I don't know who I am anymore-and I always feel like I am failing. Failing me by focusing too much on the kids- failing them by not being true to myself. Just failing.

    It gets better, right?  

  2. # Blogger My Wombinations

    I understand. There is not a day that goes by where I am not almost reduced to tears at some point at the thought of my old life with R. I do manage to run, but it is always while looking back over my shoulder to see when I need to return home.

    Your kids are so young right now and since I don't have three, maybe it is easy for me to say, but I think it is so important to try to take an hour for yourself each day. Next month the twins will be 6 mos. (old enough for the jogger). Maybe you can take them on runs while Isabella stays behind? Or maybe you can get a triple jogger on Craig's List? Is there a gym in your area with childcare? I know you will figure all this out and perhaps right now, it really is impossible to find the time, but I am sure it will happen and it won't always be this acute.

    That said, I am guessing neither of us will ever fully stop pining for our old, child-free, unencumbered lives. It does not mean we do not love our kids. It just means we liked ourselves.  

  3. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    She's STILL IN THERE! Don't fret. Really, I promise she'll show up when you least expect it.

    For me, I handed my youngest over to a wonderful (god love her, she's awesome) 'day mom' for a scant 4 hours each morning, and that first day, I kissed him bye bye, got in my car and sobbed, heartbroken, for about ten seconds.

    Then I threw back my head, cackled a crazy sounding laugh, turned up the volume, and blasted ACDC Thunderstruck all the way to the nearest coffee shop, where I sat, ALONE and kept smiling like a stupid idiot at the slow, awakening of ME again.

    Just give her time, like I say, she'll show up when you least expect it, and you'd better be ready for her, because she's going to grab your life by the horns and pummle you with fresh ideas and turn your life upside down with crazy, crazy joy.

    (Don't get me wrong, being with my kids is awesome, special and amazing, always. But I am still me. But you enjoy them MORE when they're not ON YOU ALL THE TIME.)  

  4. # Blogger Mom24

    I'm so sorry. I'm glad you're able to acknowledge the feeling, even if there's no easy answers right now. You're still you, you're just prioritizing in a different way, but of course your missing the time you spent on yourself...it sounds pretty non-existent right now. It will get better, but that doesn't help a whole lot right now.

    {{{Hugs}}}  

  5. # Blogger Jesser

    I remember these feelings from after Tabby was born. I know the magnitude isn't nearly what you're going through, but it is a familiar scenario. I remember crying to my husband that he would never get it because even though his life had changed, he hadn't become a 24/7 slave to someone else's every need. He still went on business trips and didn't have to lug the breast pump with him whenever he left the house, etc. etc. My life had changed completely ... I barely recognized myself. I've gotta think time will help ... but if you're as patient as I am, that is salt on a wound. :P I wish you luck and patience. And if you're ever interested, I have a great library of audio books on MP3 that I will send your way in a heartbeat. ;)  

  6. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    Oh Kristi, I'm so sorry. I completely understand how you feel. I do, and at the moment, it's just me and Little Elvis. But I do understand. Before Little Elvis, I had a job I kind of liked with some people that I really liked. I always had something interesting to say (at least I felt like I did!) about a variety of topics. Now, I pretty much have my antics with Little Elvis to talk about. It's hard with the mom's group I belong to, because those women must have tons more money than we do. They have regular babysitters and mommy's helpers, so they can get the breaks they need to go do stuff for themselves. I'm glad your family is near. Maybe you could work out some sort of schedule with different people dropping by different days to give you an hour to run? This might not work, but maybe it could help. Good luck!  

  7. # Blogger shokufeh

    I have those same fears. And then more seasoned mothers remind me that it won't always be like this. And I think back to a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, and see that there've been changes.
    One of my sister-in-laws is mother to three girls, each spaced about two years from the last. I first met them when the oldest was 2.5 and the middle one was almost 1 and the youngest didn't even exist. So I was used to visiting and seeing babies being fed and sippy cups prepared and diapers being changed.... And then we moved away for a while and when I came back, it suddenly hit me that all three girls were independent at the dining table, and in the bathroom, and what a different dynamic there was.
    Your day (and mine) will come. Just think - since your youngest ones are nearing six months, and my (hoped-for) youngest has not even been created, I'm going to finish last for further into the future.
    Hugs!  

  8. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    Do you ever get a chance to go on play dates or get together with your other friends during the week? Or do you get to do a girls night out once in a while? I make sure do go out night sans kids every month...it's amazing how much that helps me feel like a real person.  

  9. # Blogger kenju

    It's good to be honest about it. I didn't run, but I valued free time, so I used to hire a sitter once a week for 3-4 hours, so I could go out and shop, read, have lunch and do whatever I wanted without having to think of children. It helped, and I really looked forward to those hours.  

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