I get to run today.
Yes, you read that correctly—I get to, not have to—and that’s a big and powerful difference.
To say the past few months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement: a move to a new house . . . during the final days of pregnancy . . . with an earlier-than-expected labor that was wild, crazy, terrifying, complicated, and beautiful, perfect because of what it culminated in–new life and new perspective . . . followed by the Dreft-scented, snuggle-heavy, sleep-deprived days of life with a newborn.
After all of this, I can honestly say life will never be the same—in a good way. My perspective on things has forever changed.
So, when I say I get to run today—I am not choosing my words lightly.
I don’t have to run, I get to run.
I understand the privilege of it—the physical part, the emotional part, and all of the things, all fueled by the energy I’m surprised I have thanks to little sleep.
And I’m thankful . . . because it has been a while since I’ve been able to do this.
Several weeks ago I experienced both the scariest and most blessed day of my life. Life literally hanging in the balance while I held my breath waiting for my baby’s cry, hearing the erratic beeping of machines and heartbeats, my body immobilized from the neck down—physically numb but emotionally raw, feeling everything more than I could ever imagine.
During those moments I would have given anything to have a glimpse of today—in the comfort of my own home, watching my baby practice his cheeky facial expressions in his sleep (smirks, frowns, and smiles—oh my!) while he naps in his Pack ‘n Play only steps away from the treadmill I’m running on.
I think back to the weeks since his arrival, the first days and weeks when it was painful to sit up, lay down, turn, cough, sneeze, and pretty much everything else thanks to an emergency C-section.
I think back to when a walk around the block felt more physically demanding than a 10K run.
I recall literally squealing in delight the first time I was able to sit up without stabbing pain, sleep on my side, and—most importantly—push my little baby in a stroller and once again walk my not-so-mini Goldendoodle on a leash.
Day by day, the walks got longer, the pain got better, and the little victories kept on coming–lifting heavier things (the baby in a car seat! a gallon of milk!), sitting on the ground to hug my dog, and driving my car—all of which may or may not have made me cry tears of joy.
And now, today, I am running again.
My single-story, stairless existence of a few months ago is a thing of the past, replaced by a faster pace (both literally and figuratively with days spent chasing the dog around the house, up and down the stairs), mornings spent on endless walks with my baby, and, once again, treadmill sessions with increased speed and incline, all in the midst of the increased busyness and whole new world of fast-paced daily life that characterizes the plunge into motherhood.
Walks have turned to jogs turned to runs, and the pace of life with a little one and a rambunctious furry one is speeding by faster than I ever imagined.
But I’m grateful as can be.
So today, while I am doing mental gymnastics figuring out how to squeeze in a workout and a shower during the baby’s nap time while also coordinating the millionth laundry load of the week, I am amazed at how much life has happened in the past three months and how my perspective is forever changed.
I don’t have to go on this run . . . I get to.
I get to feel my feet pounding on the treadmill belt, my heart beating quickly in my chest, my breath flowing in and out, a smile spread across my face as I steal a glance at my baby somehow sleeping through the noise of the treadmill and my epic running playlist.
And, above all, I feel how grateful I am for these moments my baby and I have together now as well as for all those moments leading up to them, including those that were scary, painful, and hard—because they got us here to the joy of today.