I’ve been married for 2 years, and my husband and I do not plan on having children. Nope, not ever. I don’t mind spending time with other people’s kids (most days) but I know that I will be content not to have any of my own, and I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I have zero maternal interest or instinct.
There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be a mom, even though grocery store strangers may too often smile smugly and say “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” According to Time Magazine, the current birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history, so I know I’m not alone in my preference. Still, some days it doesn’t seem like there are lot of other people out there with similar plans. For the most part it feels like most women I know over thirty are making serious strides in the baby-making department, or at least heading in that direction. The Spice Rack here at Salty Running is no exception, you may have noticed!
Runner-moms have a dedication and drive that I can’t wrap my head around. I’m not a total slouch, by average American standards, but I know that my life is a heckuva lot simpler and less stressful by average parent standards. I am usually pretty good at not comparing myself to other runners; when I find out another gal is a mom AND a runner, however, it’s game over for my ego. The little I am able to do just doesn’t seem to come close to what the indomitable runner-moms do, and all with kids in tow.
I appreciate the runner-moms I am privileged to know. They are sensitive, understanding ladies who never pressure me to act or feel a certain way about life OR my running. Still, I have to admit that runner-moms make me feel a little bad about myself. This is not because they actively try to make me feel bad at all – quite the contrary! It’s because I am easily awestruck by women who seem to do everything I do (work full time, run, have a social life, etc.) but do it while also juggling carpool madness and ballet lessons and breast feeding and helping with impossible math homework. <Insert brain-explosion noise here>
As a runner and avid reader, I regularly encounter runner-mom blogs, books, and articles. Motherhood + Running is a pretty popular topic combination, and runner-moms are great at encouraging each other through pregnancies, trying-to-get-pregnant phases and fertility battles, postpartum challenges, and all the child-rearing stages that follow. I can’t relate to most of what they write about, but I respect them all the more for knowing things I don’t. Still, all this mom stuff does leave me feeling somehow… left out of the loop.
I don’t know what it feels like to grow a baby bump and cannot dream of what it must be like trying to run with one. Shoot, I can’t even tolerate a hydration belt, let alone an extra little body strapped around my midsection! And making a running comeback after birthing a child? Yeah, I have trouble making a running comeback after a couple days of eating too much pizza or Chinese takeout. I can’t fathom the idea of being a mom or mom-to-be and still making it out the door to train. Or race. Or accomplish any sort of personal goal beyond maintaining a single shred of sanity.
When I accomplish a running goal, I typically enjoy the feeling of pride that comes with it…until I realize that the handfuls of moms around me did the exact same thing, and then some. Talk about an internal buzz kill! I admire runner-moms, and I recognize that I should not allow myself to have such a serious inferiority complex when it comes to them. It’s hard, though. As a non-mother, I feel like such a slug on the days when I skip a run for no reason other than sheer laziness, only to hear/read that the runner-moms of my acquaintance had a far rougher day and STILL managed to get their miles in. They rarely boast about it, but I still can’t help but feel like I don’t quite measure up to that level of running commitment.
At the end of the day, I try to remind myself that we’re all on different journeys and I should focus on mine. In a place like Salty Running, however, it’s hard NOT to notice what the resident runner-moms are up to. I read about Ginko’s Baby Story or Salty’s post-baby comeback quest, I see that Catnip is Coordinating Breastfeeding and Racing and Mint is teaching her son how to train for a half marathon. What am I doing with MY training time? Compared to all that, it seems that I’m doing very little! And so, my irrational and unnecessary inferiority complex rages on…
Am I the only one who struggles with this?! Do any other childless (I personally prefer the term “childfree”…) runners ever feel like they don’t quite measure up or fit in with the supermoms in our midst?
This post was originally published on July 30, 2014.