Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Family Exercise

Last night at bedtime Leah asked if we could go jogging in Whatcom Falls Park today. “Can we go in the morning?”

Are you kidding?

This morning, Leah and I don our running gear and pack Ty’s bike into the back of the car. This is our summer mode of exercise—she and I jog and he rides ahead. It works pretty well. We don’t do it nearly often enough, but on the way to the park Leah decides she wants to start running more regularly. Girl after my own heart.

We hit Whatcom Falls just as the rain starts up, but under the trees the ground is still dry. We take the route Leah had run at the end of May—except in reverse—during the middle school challenge, an event for kids from any of Bellingham’s middle schools.

“The steps are really bad,” she tells us maybe fifteen times. “I’d rather run down them.”

As we jog, I realize I have never explored this park. Not really. Sure, I’ve been to the bridge and the surrounding trails numerous times, but as Leah directs Ty ahead of us—“turn left, stay right, go straight, Ty”—I realize the network of trails is way more extensive than I’d thought. How have I missed these beautiful trails? I feel sheepish. 

The air is cool, smelling of rain and leaves and damp gravel, a Northwest summer rain smell that I love. Ty rides ahead, pacing us, until we arrive at the steps. Ah. I get it now. Steep. Hmm, good for stair training, I can’t help saying out loud.

“No way,” Leah says. “We had to run up these steps in the middle school challenge. It was awful.” Okay, maybe no steps. I make a mental note to come back on my own. Today, we are going down, and I heft Ty’s bike for the trek.

Beyond the steps we begin hitting the hills, mostly up, and the kids groan. “Come on, you can do it, Ty, you too, Leah, to the rock. Let’s run as far as that rock, and then you can walk.” I sound like my high school track coach, and you know what? They go for it. Ty busts up the hill, and Leah laughs and keeps jogging. This is her idea, after all.

Before I was a parent, I was not a baby person, nor did I ever want to go through pregnancy, but at the same time I couldn’t imagine life without kids. I always pictured myself with school-age kids, never babies or toddlers. Old enough to join in, but not old enough to opt out.

I’m there. I’m in that picture. I wish I could freeze time.

At the end of our run, we walk to cool down, each of us breathing a little harder, each of us a little sweaty. “Can we do that again sometime?” Leah asks.

But of course.


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Forced to Run

Last night I was a mean mother. I made my kids go to an All-Comers track meet. Made them. If you don’t know about these, they’re track meets for all ages, held at Civic Field every Monday evening, 6-9pm, and they’re a lot of fun. Anyway, between trips, working at horse camp, and laziness, we’ve only been to one this summer. Last summer, I think we went to all of them because my kids think they’re a blast. Or they used to, anyway.

You’d have thought I was dipping Ty’s toes in hot oil when I said we were going. Admittedly, I did drag him away from playing with the neighbor kid to go, and he didn’t see the sense in that. I don’t blame him. I did wonder at my own motives because, according to all the books, after all, unstructured play is the absolute best thing you can give young kids. Leah claimed to be tired, but I told her the best way to get energy was to make energy, or something along those lines. She’ll probably quote me when she’s 30. 

My motivation? Purely financial. No need for my kids to win or, you know, have a good time. Nope. I was just trying to get something out of our season pass that we paid for back in June, and until last night, had used exactly once. I even told my kids as much. I said, “If you go tonight and run one race, I won’t make you go for the rest of the summer.” (Is this as sick as it sounds?) Of course, along the way I was counting on kiddie epiphanies, realizations of “hey, yeah, I love this sport.”

Instead, Ty cried so much he hyperventilated, that catchy tri-breath thing that kids do when they’ve cried too long. I felt bad and told him he didn’t have to run after all, he just had to come because he couldn’t stay home alone. He was so upset when we arrived at Civic that he went off grocery shopping with Dad while Leah and I scouted for her friends. Alas, none to be found. None who were running, anyway. And I could feel her enthusiasm, the little she’d conjured, ebbing away. Why are we here again? That’s right—to get our money’s worth.

While Leah went off to cheer on younger friends in their races, I found parent friends I hadn’t seen all summer. This was pretty much why I was here—that and the money thing. And it was worth it. Through one friend, I met a Spanish family touring the U.S. for two months. We had a great chat about points of interest in Washington and traveling abroad with kids. Their daughter is just Leah’s age, and the two girls ended up running the 100 meters together (Leah’s token race for me). Their daughter won the race by a couple yards, with Leah in hot pursuit. The girl was ecstatic, clearly having the time of her life, and I took to watching her run because she was such a happy kid. Vicarious parenting, if you will. We didn’t stay for the 200 meters, but I’d love to have seen her run it. 

When Ty and Curt came back from shopping, it was clear Ty had undergone a mental shift, and what do you know, he was ready to run. He even had fun doing it.
Heading home, I thanked the kids for humoring me, and I told them they were off the hook for the rest of the summer. “What?” said Ty. “But I like running. I want to go to another meet.”

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