I had a post all set to go.  And it was ugly.

I wrote about how frustrated I was with myself and my world.  Back in May, I had set a goal to run my first 5K in October for the Flutie Foundation.  I have never been a runner, but I thought this was an important step, an attempt to get healthy and do something for me while helping to raise money for a worthy cause.  I got my running gear (translated: new sneakers for the first time in 5 years, my first iPod, and my first sports bra), joined the “couch to 5K” program, and started running.  My pace wasn’t great, and I was doing more walking and jogging than running, but at least I was out there.  I was able to run a few times a week after the kids went off to school with the baby in the stroller, and at least one weekend morning through May and most of June. Summer was approaching and I had a grand plan of getting up before everyone else did and getting back in time to get the kids ready for camps or summer school.

I wrote that then July hit and everything fell apart.

My hope that I would be able to run more when the kids were out of school was quickly squashed.  I had a thousand excuses as to why I didn’t run all July.  It’s been hot and humid.  At least one of the kids has been up until 9 or 10pm each night and then another one up by 6am in the morning.  My sports bra wasn’t clean.  And in the chaos that has overcome our house this summer, I couldn’t find my iPod.

The real excuse is the harder one to admit of course.  July had left me physically and emotionally exhausted.  It is the first summer that all three boys have been completely mobile so I have been breaking up arguments, monitoring pillow fights and running back and forth from the front yard to the back yard to keep an eye on whichever kid decides to be where at that moment.  This is also the first summer after Howie’s autism diagnosis, and I have schedules and routines and therapies to plan.  I have become quite good at making things run smoothly around here, but it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to do that.  There’s no sitting in the yard in a lawn chair sipping ice tea while my kids play.  It’s constant hands-on parenting, twenty-four hours a day.

I wrote how upset and frustrated this all left me.  The one thing – the ONE thing – I set aside for myself to do I couldn’t seem to get to it.  Running was just mine, just me and my “Glee” songs on my iPod and 45 minutes of alone time.  But I was spending so much energy planning and putting out fires before they started I was left feeling like human flame retardant.  Sure, I could have set the alarm for 5:30am.  But in so many cases, I had just crawled back into my bed after getting someone back to sleep an hour or so earlier. I was so…tired.

I wrote how this was all contributing to me being in a dark place.  I was resenting the fact that I couldn’t just take off and run, or even shower, without the “permission” of four other people.  I wrote that I had come to the realization that this was just how things were going to be, that right now everything and everyone else had to come first for our lives to feel like there was some order.  I wrote how I had just stopped trying to find my missing iPod.

And, just as I was about to publish that post, this was in my e-mail inbox:

Be selfish (click on the words to see the link)

I follow Luau’s wife’s excellent blog, and she had linked to his running blog when he wrote how living with autism is like running a marathon. I had commented on that post, saying that it helped me realize that I need to take care of some things around here before I can start running again. And then, this new post from him arrived. He wrote about how important it is to take care of ourselves, that being selfish isn’t a dirty word although so many of us think it is. That if we aren’t a little selfish, then we aren’t any good to the people that we are trying to care of. And at the top it says – to me – “you will run that 5K“.

I stopped writing my ugly post and wrote this one instead.

He’s totally right. I need to be a little selfish. I need that time to make me a better parent and wife. Not only does it give me a few minutes away from the chaos, it also shows my kids that taking care of myself is important. It doesn’t have to be running for everyone – as he wrote it could be just getting a haircut or a evening out for dessert and wine with some friends. We all need to find that one thing that is just for us and stick with it. Otherwise we could fall apart and be of no use to anyone. However, what was most remarkable to me was that here was someone who doesn’t even know me reminding me that I needed to get running again. It just shows how well this community supports each other. Because if we don’t pick each other up, no one else will.

His post was the kick in the butt that I needed. I finished reading it, closed my computer, and looked for my iPod. It was right where it should be, but I wasn’t able to find it before behind the mess. My alarm is set for 6:30am tomororw, and I plan to run even if the whole house is already awake by then. Every day in my life may feel like a marathon, but to get to that finish line I need to be in the best shape of my life.

I have eight weeks until the day of the Flutie Foundation race. And Luau is right. I will run that 5K.

It was a beautiful day, sun beat down.
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees went by, Me and Del were singing
little Runaway, I was flyin’
Running down a dream.
Never would come to me.
Working on a mystery.
Going wherever it leads.
Runnin’ down a dream
.” – Runnin’ Down A Dream by Tom Petty