Coach mom roadblock

mom_breakWe’ve kind of plateaued in Jack’s half marathon training.

And by ‘plateaued,’ I mean stopped in our tracks.

You knew this was going to happen, right? Fourteen year old says: “I want to run a half marathon,” he doesn’t mean: I want to run for weeks and months for what seems to be no particular reason. I want to run in the chilly, early morning, in the sleet that shouldn’t be happening in April but still does, or in the freak heat wave that saps all my energy.

I want to run even when I worry that this lingering cough is from an impending plague rather than just allergies, or there’s a crink in my knee that could mean I’m working on a stress injury. I want to run on bleeding blisters, with toenails falling off and chafing in places I didn’t know could chafe.

I want to run through wardrobe malfunctions and sunscreen in my eyes and gastrointestinal distress.

Sometimes – and it doesn’t matter what age you are – “I want to run a half marathon” means I want run across the finish line, grab my medal, rip into a well-earned cheeseburger and show off my cool t-shirt to my buddies.

Sometimes “I want to run a half marathon,” turns into: this crap is hard and boring, and I get this mantra going in my head in time with every step: ‘I-hate-run-ing-it’s-so-bor-ing,’ and every time we go out it’s such a freaking chore.

I get it.

I’ve written about how running and I have a hate-hate-love thing going on. That hasn’t ever completely gone away.

To be sure, Jack’s still training with his triathlon club at the Y, and really digging that. He’s made friends. As with any activity, the social aspect is a motivating factor for Jack.

The social part of running with your mom is a little less invigorating, I guess.

I’m trying like the dickens not to be bossy. I am. But I’m running with my kid, whom I’ve bossed around most every day for the past 14 years.

I figure it’s an opportunity for me to work on my coping skills.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, it was becoming apparent I’d have to take a different approach if Jack and I were going to keep going. We’d go out for long runs, in which the walk intervals got longer and longer. I was training for an upcoming event that was rapidly approaching and I was increasingly anxious about getting the miles in. This laid back approach was cramping my style.

Mike ran with us, and was willing to hang back with Jack, when needed, or return to the car a little earlier on occasion.

For the record, Mike’s way less bossy than I am, so that worked for a while.

Last weekend Jack begged off the running thing altogether. He was too tired, he said. He’d go for a run by himself after dinner. But after dinner he said he didn’t feel well and went to bed early.

I hate to admit thinking his going to bed early was pretty extreme behavior for getting out of running. I hate to admit thinking his behavior was anything other than his being completely honest with me and with himself about not feeling well.

I hate to admit thinking that way partially because that’s probably what I would have done at his age. Heck, I’d probably do it today, except the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.

Today, I’m more likely to push too hard to reach goals that might turn out to be unreasonable. Today I’m more likely to not waiver when I have something in mind, no matter what.

Today, if I need a break I’m more likely to beat myself up about it. To think unflattering words about myself that might rhyme with “wuss,” or “mazy.”

Ultimately, if my kid wants to set his sights on a goal and wants coach mom to help him reach it, I’ll be there for him. I’ll be coach mom-on-call. The motivation for that sort of thing has to come from inside. You can’t parent that into a person, I’m learning.

Monday, after Jack went to bed early, he woke up still feeling unwell. I called the school.

“Oh that’s too bad,” Guy-On-The-Phone said. “What’s wrong?”

I dunno. I said. Not feeling well. No temperature. No bleeding out his eyeballs, or writhing in pain, either. Just not well.

In case we’ve not met, Mr. Guy-On-The-Phone: I’m the mom who normally doesn’t let her kids off the hook. I’m the mom who holds people accountable. You sign up for the team, you play every freaking game all season long. And you do it with gusto. I don’t care if you decide on the first practice you’re not all that into this chasing-the-ball-around-baloney. You signed up for it, you see it through. That’s what we do around here.

But people also need to know when to take a break. Maybe Jack went to bed early because he had something coming on. Maybe not. Jack doesn’t miss much school at all. One day off over the course of the whole year on a day when you’re just feeling kind of pooky isn’t going to kill anybody.

“Nothing serious,” I said. “Just not feeling up to par, I guess.”

“Huh, that’s convenient,” Guy-On-The-Phone said. “I’ll have to use that next time I want a day off.”

You do that, mister. You go and take a day for your own, bad self, if you need it.

You don’t even need your mom to call for you.


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