30 September 2010, by Jaime Teo
Have you ever run a marathon? I haven’t. The longest distance I’ve run is 10km and that is laughable by the standards of people who run marathons (42.1km). But that is my personal milestone – I still remember the moment I crossed the finishing line – I was out of breath (you Always sprint the last lap), my legs felt like jelly, my toes were bruised (I discovered too late my shoes were ill fitting) but the feeling of accomplishing something I set out to do was priceless. That is a very powerful feeling.
People who run marathons prepare their bodies for it. They change their diets (high carb, low fat), they learn how to pace themselves, invest in good shoes (so their toenails don’t all fall off), and basically practise, practise, practise. In short, it’s not just about the running – it’s a lifestyle change. My unqualified mental rule to running marathons is simply, don’t stop.
I think parenthood is very much like running a marathon. Both need strength of body and mind. Both are milestones in life and both require a lifestyle change.
But wait — there’s more to parenthood. It is a journey whose reality cannot remotely compare to the theoretical preparations that you make. I for one never imagined that I would be able to survive on small blocks of sleep through the night for coming 6 months now with no end in sight. It just makes me jealous when I read about the other babies who can sleep through the night at 3-4 months so I’ve stopped reading them (Incidentally, where do these baby websites get their stats from??).
What’s shocking, is that I have the choice to change it but I am not making that choice. (I hear that formula fed babies wake up lesser at night)What is it about parenting that makes you Want to make the sacrifice?
Also, this marathon is for a very much longer distance. It’s for a lifetime. My mental rule definitely applies here – cannot don’t stop. Even when I get away for some me time, I start wondering if Renee is going to be ok as the car pulls away from the house. A little bit like leaving your mind and heart at home even when you’re physically out. I half cannot imagine always feeling this way but half know that I will.
I think this quote aptly sums it up : “Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body -Elizabeth Stone”
The biggest realisation for me in all of this, is discovering the sort of love a parent has for a child. I don’t think I really knew love before being a parent. It is a deep deep joy that is hard to explain. It makes one want to give and give. It makes the little things in everyday the big things because you know they are the building blocks in your child’s life.
So at times when I get tired running this marathon (and I’m only beginning!), I think about the everyday feelings of accomplishment when I get little things done with Renee. That helps me go through every day because that feeling of accomplishment is a very powerful feeling.