When my mother was a child, she dreamed of becoming a figure skater. When she turned five years old her father bought her a pair of ice-skates, took her to an ice-skating rink and left her there to learn, alone. As you might have predicted, my mom did not become a figure skater. Fast-forward a year and her father eventually abandoned the family.
Conversely, when I was eight years old, my mom bought me a pair of running shoes and signed me up to run my first race. Even more so, my mom trained with and ran the race with me. Now fast-forward many years and I’m still running races. I LOVE RUNNING, and my mother still races with me.
My love for running was a slow process. I had no idea that I had to train for my first race and did not want to for that matter because I was a heaving eight-year-old mess. But I unwillingly set foot on the old black-top road “because I said so” and complained to Mom the entire time. But Mom was patient. She didn’t force me to run, but gave me little pieces of advice like “run a minute, walk a minute.” I always pretended I wasn’t listening.
I loved my first pair of running shoes and I’m sure my mom really appreciated her ice-skates. Although both gifts were great on their own the gifts alone did not speak as loudly as the actions paired with them.
The ideal gift for both my mother and I would have been paired with mentorship, presence, and time.
If my mom just signed me up for a race as an eight year old and bought me a pair of running shoes but didn’t guide me, have fun with me, or encourage me, I don’t know if I would be a runner today.
To this day my parents, siblings, friends, and husband invest in my hobby. They all run with me and I can honestly say that everything I wear when I run, from my shoes and socks to my GPS watch, has been gifted to me.
The tangible pieces I carry with me as I run are only small reminders of an even greater gift from my gift givers: presence and a belief that I have potential. I also know they are proud of me and are proud to walk beside me in the sure to be clumsy process.
That’s what childhood is – a beautiful clumsy process and children need to know they are worth walking (or running) beside.
I’m thankful for parents and mentors who walked beside me as a child. Who repeatedly told me they were proud of me and repeatedly reminded me of what was good in me.
It may not seem like there is much fruit in the beginning of any investment for a young heart, but we carry truths or lies that we learn about ourselves at a young age with us into adulthood.
As I set out to run my long Saturday runs I can’t help but be grateful for my mother’s investment.
Who have you been running beside?